The jubilee 40th Maraton Franja BTC gran fondo took place Sunday 13 June in Ljubljana, Slovenia with over 4000 cyclists participating in the country’s biggest cycling event. But it was a 38 year-old Dutchman living in Austria, who was knocked into a barbed wire fence by a French TV car while riding the 2011 Tour de France that claimed victory.
Johnny Hoogerland defeated Matica Grošelj in a sprint to the finish line, both credited with the same time of 3:37:31 for the 156 kilometre race. Former amateur world champion Gregor Tekavec had to settle for third place two seconds back at 3:37:33.
You can watch the entire race below or just the final kilometre which starts at 03:58:30 as Hoogerland (black kit) attacks.
Hoogerland, also attacked mid-way through the race on the days’ major climb, Kladje, and built a minute of advantage by the top, but Grošelj and Tekavec railed the downhill and caught the Dutchman. The Slovenian pair then tried in vain to shake Hoogerland loose towards the end, but they did not succeed.
Although a former top tier professional rider who has a Tour de France Polka Dot KOM jersey hanging in his closet, Hoogerland is still eligible to compete in the 2021 UCI Gran Fondo World Championships since he 1) retired in 2016, 2) has not competed in the World Championships, Olympic Games, Continental Games, Regional Games, Commonwealth Games, or a World Cup race this year, 3) has no UCI points and 4) is not a member of a registered UCI professional team. If he does race the Gran Fondo World Championships he will be easy to recognize with all the barb wire scars on his legs.
In the Women’s race, the British rider Matea Deliu (3:53:33) was the fastest on the course and in the final sprint, overtaking Katarina Novak by a bike length at the finish.
UCI Maraton Franja BTC holds the distinction of being the only European Gran Fondo World Series race not cancelled due to the pandemic. It took place both 2020 (September) and now June 2021.
Riders finishing in the top 20% of their age group are eligible to participate in the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships taking place in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina in October.
PHOTOS: Maraton Franja BTC
GFDN Worldwide Gran Fondo Calendar