Whether caused by the COVID pandemic, personal financial struggles, time constraints, dangerous racing conditions or riders just fed up with gran fondo dopers, participation at the amateur UCI Gran Fondo World Championships is declining.
With less than one week until the start of the 2022 UCI Gran Fondo World Championships in Trento, Italy, the UCI reports only 1478 gran fondo racers have registered, representing a 50% drop in participation since 2017.
An all-time high 3000 participants attended the 2017 world championship races in Albi, France, but since then participation has declined year-over-year.
In 2018 the number dropped 20% to 2400 riders lining up to race in Varese, Italy. In 2019 at Poznan, Poland the trend continued with registered riders only reaching 2000.
The 2020 event planned for Vancouver, Canada was cancelled due to the pandemic and hopes were high that 2021 would see competitors return due to pent-up demand.
It did not happened.
The 2021 UCI Gran Fondo World Championships in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina declined another 10%, with the organizer struggling to attract 1800 cyclists to battle for amateur world cycling titles and prized jerseys adorned with rainbows.
In 2022 with 1) pandemic conditions under control, 2) a full calendar of worldwide qualifying events and 3) the world championships taking place in the center of Italy, expectations were once again riding high that many wannabe world champions would return.
While last minute registrations will likely increase the total number of riders making the journey to Trento, Italy, most of the 4000 riders who qualified to attend are staying put and staying home.
It seems the UCI’s annual world championship for aging amateur cyclists has lost some of its luster and appeal, making business decisions for future UCI Gran Fondo World Championship organizers more challenging, especially if attendance continues to drop.
Though, the good news for participants is the odds of finishing on the podium only get better as the field gets smaller…