Thursday saw Stage 12 of the Giro d’Italia race 205 kilometres with 3800m vertical on the most famous gran fondo route in the world – Nove Colli.
On a miserable weather day that had overall race leader João Almeida (DECEUNINCK-QUICK-STEP) pouring hot tea on his cold body to stay warm, Jhonatan Narvaez (INEOS GRENADIERS) won the stage.
It provided an opportunity to compare the results of top-tier professional cyclists against the world’s best amateur gran fondo riders.
First and foremost, there is no doubt professionals race on a much higher level, even compared to the strongest gran fondo riders.
How much higher?
First, keep in mind for Narvaez and the rest of the Giro riders it was the twelfth stage of a three week race, with fatigue starting to accumulate and riders mindful of upcoming mountain stages.
Narvaez rode almost the entire stage working in a breakaway of 14 riders, before soloing at 50km/hr through drenching rain to the finish line in 5:31:24. If the breakaway group had worked together till the finish it is likely the winning time would be around 5:10:00 or 15-20 minutes faster.
By comparison, the course record for Nove Colli gran fondo was set in 2018 by then UCI Gran Fondo World Champion Federico Pozzetto with a time of 5:53:22, winning from a group sprint in dry conditions. The last time Nove Colli was raced in rain, 2015, Igor Zanetti won in 6:11:44 from a small group of five riders working together all day.
So, comparing apples-to-apples, under similar weather and group racing conditions, pro riders with over 1000km of hard racing in their legs would complete the Nove Colli gran fondo route almost one hour faster than the best amateurs with fresh legs – or about 7km/hr faster.