Top 10 Best Gran Fondos & Sportives in the World

Maratona dles Dolomites

Maratona dles Dolomites [📷: Wikipedia]

So you picture yourself a Lance Armstrong of sorts. You clock all your rides way faster than your competitors and you’ve won every Gran Fondo the US has to offer. Now what?

Maybe it’s time you started thinking about expanding your horizons and heading off to a race across the globe.

If you’re searching for a more challenging ride, check out this guide to the biggest and best Gran Fondos and Sportives the world has to offer.

1. Maratona dles Dolomites

  • Location: Italian Dolomites, Italy
  • Date: July 7th, 2019
  • Course: 138-kilometer (85-mile) with a total ascent of 4100 meters (13,451 ft), 106-kilometer (65-mile) with a total ascent of 3130 meters (10,269 ft), and 55-kilometer (34-mile) with a total ascent of 1780 meters (5839 ft) rides.

Far larger than most cycling events in the US, the Maratona dles Dolomites Gran Fondo is a European cycling event that attracts over 8500 seasoned cyclists every year. It may not be the longest ride on our list, but this Fondo certainly tops the list for climbing distance. You’ll ascend the Passo Pordoi and the Passo Gardena, both of which total 15 miles in climbing.

2. Prudential RideLondon – Surrey

  • Location: London, England
  • Date: August 3rd , 2019
  • Course: 19-, 46-, and 100-mile non-competitive rides. Professional 5.4-kilometer (3-mile) and 169-kilometer (105-mile) races.

Prudential RideLondon isn’t just a cool UK Gran Fondo– it’s a weekend-long festival for the biggest cycling enthusiasts in the world. The course takes you across closed roads, through nine of London’s boroughs, and into picturesque Surrey County. Stick around for the Pro event after you ride to watch 150 of the world’s best cyclists vie for the Classic or Classique championship. Prudential RideLondon is perfect for foreigners, too, since all non-UK competitors receive guaranteed entry upon registration.

3. Bealach Mor

  • Location: Kinlochewe, Scotland
  • Date: August 31st , 2019
  • Course: 90- or 43-mile rides with a total ascent of 626 meters (2053 ft).

Offering the largest climb in the UK, the Bealach Mor and the shorter 43-mile Bealach Beag are for cyclists who like to take the scenic route. This ride has been around since 2006 and is renowned for its beautiful sights. Ride across the Applecross Peninsula, over hilly landscapes, and alongside the Scottish coastline. But make sure you’re ready for the 626-meter ascent that comes just 10 kilometers into the race.

4. UCI Gran Fondo World Championships

  • Location: Poznan, Poland
  • Date: September 1st, 2019
  • Course: Various distances

The Union Cycliste Internationale Gran Fondo World Series 2019 culminates with the UCI Championship in Poznan, Poland. Attracting over 4000 cyclists from 40 different countries, the UCI Series has been around since 2011 and has expanded to offer multiple events this year. Make sure to arrive early to participate in the individual timed trial on August 29th and the non-competitive Team Relay race August 30th. Even if you aren’t competing, stick around until September 1st to watch the World Championships.

5. Amy’s Gran Fondo – The Great Ocean Ride

  • Location: Lorne, Victoria, Australia
  • Date: September 15th, 2019
  • Course: 130-kilometer (80-mile), 60-kilometer (37-mile), 45-kilometer (28-mile), and 14-kilometer (8-mile) races.

One of only a few Australian cycling events held on fully-closed roads, Amy’s Gran Fondo AKA the Great Ocean Ride features competitive, non-competitive, and family rides. The non-competitive courses are all ocean-side rides on fully closed roads. The 60-kilometer course doubles as an Australian Championship race, taking you along unpaved roads and through the beautiful Otway Ranges, and the 130-kilometer race is an age group qualifier for the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships in Poland.

6. L’Etape Brazil

  • Location: Campos do Jordão, Brazil
  • Date: September 29th, 2019
  • Course: 77-kilometer (47-mile) and 117-kilometer (72-mile) races.

L’Etape Brazil is one of the races in Le Tour de France, attracting over 15,000 people from across the globe. Just outside Sao Paulo, the course through Campos de Jordao runs through beautiful countryside. The ascending and descending segments make this Gran Fondo one of the most challenging in the world.

7. L’Etape Australia

  • Location: Snowy Mountains, New South Wales, Australia
  • Date: November 29th, 2019
  • Course: 170-kilometer (105-mile) race and 108-kilometer (67-mile) ride with 1725 meters (5659 ft) of total ascent.

The one and only Le Tour de France-sponsored ride in Australia, L’Etape Australia is almost twice as long and twice as difficult as its Brazilian counterpart. The shorter, 108 km ride is for medium-difficulty cyclists who want to test out the entire course, but don’t want to stick around for the 1700-meter Col de Kosciuszko Mountain climb. L’Etape Australia is hosted along fully closed roads and when you participate in the 170-km race, you’re getting a course that’s just as tough as Tour de France’s mountainous segment.

8. GF Tours: GFNY Bali

  • Location: Bali, Indonesia
  • Date: February 23rd, 2020
  • Course: 134-kilometer (83-mile) ride with a total ascent of 2054 meters (6738 ft) and 103-kilometer (64-mile) route with a total ascent of 937 meters (3074 ft).

GFNY Bali is part of the GF tours series of races held worldwide. The competitive 134-km race is infamous for its ascent to the rim of a volcano, Gunung Baur. If you prefer the shorter, non-competitive 103-km ride, you’ll cycle past scenic coastline along Bukit Jambul. If you want to qualify for the GFNY Championships in NYC, you’ll need to rank in the first 10% of cyclists on the competitive route.

9. Cape Town Cycle Tour Lifecycle Week

  • Location: Cape Town, South Africa
  • Date: March 8th, 2020
  • Course: 109-kilometer (67-meter) race with a total ascent of 1220 meters (4002 ft).

Renowned for its breathtaking views, the Cape Town Cycle Tour takes you through Table Mountain, which is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The official 2020 route has yet to be released, but last year’s ride featured sights like the Cape Town Castle, Cape Point Natural Reserve, Misty Cliffs, and Sea Point. With coastal and mountain views, the Cape Town Cycle Tour is just as much a guide to the city as it is a challenging Gran Fondo.

10. Mallorca 312

  • Location: Playa de Muro, Spain
  • Date: April 25th, 2020
  • Course: 312-kilometer (193-mile), 225-kilometer (139-mile), and 167-kilometer (103-mile) Fondos.

Last but certainly not least, The Mallorca 312 is another European cycling event named for its Giant 312-kilometer + 5-meter course. The rolling terrain and moderate ascents run along fully closed roads. While this race definitely isn’t for beginners, the climbs are steady and there are large flat regions to break them up. One of the largest cycling events in the world, the Mallorca 312 hosted more than 8000 riders for its 10th Anniversary in 2019.