More than 5,000 cyclists made their way from the George Washington Bridge up to Bear Mountain State Park then southbound to finish at the Port Imperial Ferry Terminal in Weehawken on Sunday, May 20th in the second annual Gran Fondo New York race.
The course consisted of 110 miles and brought participants from over 70 countries for the 7:45 a.m. start.
“In Italy, gran fondos bring communities together to celebrate cyclists and provide a physical challenge and the excitement of competition,” said Dr. Joseph V. Scelsa, president of the Coalition of Italian American Association.
From Italy to New York and New Jersey
Gran Fondo New York was founded in 2010 by avid competitive cyclists with a mission to bring Italian cycling culture to the New York and New Jersey region and to raise the profile of competitive cycling in the United States. Gran Fondo New York is open to professionals and anyone who loves to ride.
With 2,000 participants last year, Gran Fondo 2012 more than doubled in competitors. This year’s participants consisted of CEOs, people with visual impairments, amputees, firefighters, police officers, and even several cycling champions, including Tim Johnson, winner of six USA Cyclocross National Championships. There were close to 500 New Jersey residents registered.
“As chairman of the Italian-American Caucus, I am very proud to welcome such a distinguished event to our city,” said Fresh Meadows Councilman James F. Gennaro at a recent City Hall event recognizing Gran Fondo New York. “And as chairman of the Environmental Protection Committee, I’m very happy to honor a cycling event at the beginning of Bike Month. I am always looking for ways to reduce carbon emissions in the city, and anything that promotes cycling is a step – or a pedal – in the right direction.”
The treacherous course
The 110 mile course had four timed climbs with four categories: overall, age groups, cycling team, and him and her. The remaining part of the race was not timed. There was also an alternative 60-mile race for those who wanted to experience Gran Fondo (GF) but were not ready to complete the 110-mile course. The 60-mile race was called The Medio Fondo and was not timed.
The highest point of the ride was Cima Coppi which is a nearly four mile climb up to Bear Mountain in Harriman State Park.
Prizes to be won
The male and female cyclist with the fastest timed climbs were named King and Queen of the Mountain. They were awarded signature Pinarello bikes along with other prizes such as cycling gear and maintenance products worth over $100,000.
Those two recipients were Wladimiro D’Ascenzo from Bellante Stazione, Italy and Susan Jones from Westmount, Calif. D’Ascenzo finished with a final time of 31:52.61 and Jones with 41:39.58. During the 4th climb, D’Ascenzo moved from first to second place, then he was trumped by Gabriel Corredor from Bogota, Colorado with 4:52.39, a difference of four seconds.
Cycling for a great cause
This is the first year that GF has had a charity sponsor, Operation Smile. Operation Smile works in more than 60 countries to provide free reconstructive surgery for children born with facial deformities, including cleft lip and cleft palate. Gran Fondo participants helped raise money for Operation Smile.
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at email@example.com