New ‘Gran Fondo’ cycling event for the South West supported by the Royal Marines

January 26th, 2015

The Royal Marines have thrown their support behind a Plymouth-based cycling event due to take place on the 31st May 2015, which is the first of its kind in the UK. The Gran Fondo aims to get hundreds of people on their bikes across Devon & Cornwall with a choice of routes all in aid of the charity Help for Heroes. For those staying in cycling holiday accommodation Cornwall at the end of May, this event will surely be a challenge too good to be missed!

Gran Fondo’s are mass participation cycling events that have enjoyed popularity in Europe for decades and are beginning to gain momentum elsewhere. Loosely translated, it means “great foundation”, “great distance” or “great endurance.” Gran Fondo’s were invented in Italy in the early 1900’s and have been part of Italian cycling culture and tradition for over 100 years.

At the UK version’s official launch the Plymouth Gran Fondo has been billed as a race that will take riders on a tour of stunning coastal areas, magnificent historic houses and breath-taking landscapes.

Organiser and former marine Jim Pascoe said: “This is going to be the first year of Plymouth Gran Fondo and I’m hoping it’s going to be something that goes on for years to come. The main aim was to design a cycling weekend that is of economic benefit to Plymouth. We want to show it’s a great place to come other than for marine activities or things you might traditionally associate with Plymouth.”

Riders will be able to choose from the 160km Gran Fondo or 60km Piccolo route options for the event on Sunday, May 31. Both events are part of a weekend of cycling in the city at the end of May, which includes a city-centre road race on the Saturday evening before the main event on Sunday.

The Plymouth Gran Fondo also has the strong support of the National Trust, and the chosen routes will take in the grounds of Buckland Abbey and Cotehele.

Royal Marine and keen cyclist Capt David O’Connor was delighted to lend his support to the event.“We’re here to support what is a very good cause for charity. It’s great for Plymouth and the South West and will show what a fantastic area it is to cycle, both competitively and for leisure. It’s a rapidly growing sport and it’s a great time to start training if people want to lose a bit of that Christmas weight – just get on a bike.”

The Plymouth Gran Fondo Route

It’s a tough ride – 160km of riding which takes you out of the city and up onto Dartmoor, from there you’ll descend into the Tamar Valley before climbing across the border into Cornwall and heading past Kit Hill and onto towards Liskeard. You’ll pedal out to the coast and work your way back along the Cornish coastline, through fishing villages and cliff tops, crossing the timing mast on the banks of the Tamar at Torpoint. From there you’ll get a boat ride and an untimed section back to Sutton Harbour where you can relax and collect your rider’s medal.

Entry fee to the Gran Fondo is £30

The Piccolo Route

It’s a taste of the Gran Fondo but without the heart attack. Around 60km with all of the climbing at the start and a lovely gradual downhill all of the way home. You’ll get up onto Dartmoor, head to historic Buckland Abbey – home of Sir Francis Drake – and quick food stop before following Drake’s trail all the way back to the sea to collect your medal. If you’re not a confident rider then don’t worry, there will be pacemakers in the group to help you get to the end.

Entry free to the Piccolo is £20.