Turkey’s capital Ankara hosted its first Gran Fondo, a long-distance road bike race for licensed and unlicensed amateur cyclists, in which some 1,200 cyclists from 25 countries competed on two different tracks.
The races, organized with the support of the country’s Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Ankara Governor’s Office, started in Anıttepe and ended at Lake Mogan.
The short track covered 43 kilometers, while the long one covered 92.
“The Gran Fondo was held in Istanbul, [the northwestern province of] Sotck exchange, [the western province of] Izmir and [the southern province of] Antalya since 2015. This is a first for Ankara,” Kemal Pala, an official with the organization, told the Milliyet daily on August 23.
“The Gran Fondos are international races held in many capitals around the world,” he said. “It was difficult, but on top of that, it was fun to lead the event in Ankara.”
When asked how many cyclists preferred the long track, Pala said: “About 70% of cyclists cycled the short course. The other 30% sweat blood on the long track.
According to the official, the event attracted the attention of all cyclists of different age groups, pointing out that the youngest cyclist was 14 years old and the oldest 78 years old.
Praising the success of Turkish cyclists, Pala pointed out that Turkish cyclists were on the podium in all age, gender and race categories.
Some 900 cyclists pocketed “finish medals”, while around 100 awards were given to cyclists in different categories.
“In total, the cyclists received prizes worth 300,000 Turkish liras [$16,550],” he added.
According to Pala, three types of cyclists race in Gran Fondos: “podium cyclists”, who have the ambition to win; the “finish line runners”, who are happy to be there to finish the race without passion for the podium; and “carnival cyclists”.
“Carnival riders race the track just for fun. We want to see the rise of these riders because we believe everyone should get on a bike and ride it,” Pala added.