Behind us, a second cycling year marked by Covid lockdowns, event cancellations and, luckily, an all-too-brief Autumn cycling season.  But just ahead lies the 2022 gran fondo season – starting in just five weeks.

Yes, European gran fondo season plans to start next month, 6 February to be precise in Italy and France simultaneously.

The 2022 Perpignan Grand Prix will take place in southern France at the foot of the Pyrenees, just a few kilometres from the Mediterranean Sea.  Starting and finishing in the city of Perpignan, the 70 kilometre event rolls uphill for the first 44 kilometres to the summit of Pas de l’Echelle, then it’s a rolling 30km descent back back to the finish.

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Although, the first race on the French season, do not expect it to be a “training race.”  The only easy part will be be the short 70km medio fondo distance, rather a traditional length gran fondo.  Although the first race of the cyclosportive season, last year Jerome Raus crossed the finish line to win with an average speed of 42.3kph to win!

600 kilometres further east along the Mediterranean Coast Italy will hold the first gran fondo of 2022 in Loano.  Gran Fondo Loano is the only amateur European event that was not cancelled or postponed in 2020 and 2021, occurring on its traditional date in February. The 110 kilometres long race starts on the coast before heading inland to tackle 1200 vertical metres of climbing.  Federico Pozzetto won in 2021 with an average speed of 40kph, while now banned EPO doper Vincenzo Pisani finished second.

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PHOTOS: GF Loano, Perpignan GP

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