After a fun programme for recreational cyclists on Saturday, Sunday was the day for the long-awaited marathon. Participants of the 84 km long Granfondo Small route and the twice as long Granfondo Classic route shared their impressions with us. The contestants and numerous crowd enjoyed the wonderful weather, plenty of sports and fun events and an exciting race.
Over 300 participants on the Small route
One of the things that makes Granfondo so special is the fact that it gathers both recreational and professional cyclists. Over 300 cyclists from Croatia and the neighbouring countries participated in this year’s Small route race. Here’s what they had to say.
Uroš, Ljubljana, Slovenia
“This is our second time here. The race wasn’t so hard and it was really well organized. The weather is great. We also like the additional activities, food and drinks, and the entertainment. I often come to this part of Istria since we have a flat in Zambratija.”
Goran, Koper, Slovenia
“The one thing we enjoyed the most was the view, especially the one right before Grožnjan. The ascent was steep so we barely managed to conquer it. The trail is beautiful and we see that you made sure that the weather is good as well. We are very pleased.”
Angelo, Friuli, Italy
“The location is truly beautiful. This is our first time here. We are staying in Umag and we like it very much. We’ll be back next year. The trail is good, just as it should be, and the landscape is breath-taking. Our son also took part in the race but he made it to the finish line much sooner than we did.”
Damir, Karlovac, Croatia
“We come from Karlovac, from the Miljokaz sports club. This is our first time here. I participated in the Small route race; it was excellent. There were some easier parts as well as more difficult ones, but I’m happy with how I did.”
Tempo Siges Cycling Club, Novo Mesto, Slovenia
“Our club has been active for 8 years and we have been cycling for about 10 years. This is our third Granfondo race and the organization is excellent. More and more people come every year. We had a good time at the race, although it was a bit strenuous. I see you made sure that the weather is great too.”
Milan Mesić, Opatija
“The weather couldn’t have been better. And as far as I’m concerned, the trail is fantastic. It requires some effort but I think that everyone was pleased. Those who are well prepared should be ready for the long route. I have been participating in the race for 3 years and I’ll be back again next year. I hope many others will do the same.”
Winners of this year’s Granfondo Classic race
First place in the Granfondo Classic race in the senior category went to a Croatian national team representative Matija Kvasina whom we welcomed at the finish line. Second and third place went to Allesandro Bertuola and Enrico Zen, members of the “Team Beraldo Green Paper Europa Ovini” cycling club from Italy.
Matija Kvasina, Zagreb
“A great route with beautiful landscapes. I feel like home here. I have been training across Istria for 20 years and I regularly attend training camps so, as you can see, this is something I enjoy very much. The trail is quite demanding, especially for recreational cyclists. This was my last race of the season and I went all out for the crowd. The organization is top-notch.”
Alessandro Bertuola, Team Beraldo Green Paper Europa Ovini, Italy
“We didn’t know the route and the beginning of the race was easier. Although the last three uphill sections weren’t long, they were very demanding. I might have pushed myself too hard at the beginning. On the last uphill section, we were behind the winner, Kvasina, and we tried to beat him but with no success. However, we are happy with the second place. Also, I definitely must give credit to the organization; it was excellent.”
Well-known world and Pula cyclist Bruno Bulić
He has won 64 cycling races during his career, took part in two Olympics, in Moscow and Los Angeles, and he represented two professional Italian clubs at “Giro d’ Italia”.
“I was pleasantly surprised by the route and the level of skill it required. It was more of a professional competition. The weather and the Istrian landscape were nice. Some of the trails were new to me, and those from Draguć towards Butoniga were truly first-class. The organization was excellent, we are all satisfied and that is a great incentive for cycling-oriented tourism, cycling in general, as well as tourism in Istria and Croatia. There was no asphalt while I was training. That was a pleasant surprise and additional motivation to experience this area again and train some more.”