The start of autumn in Northwestern Istria was marked by the now traditional Istria Granfondo Cycling Marathon, fifth in a row. The event started on September 30th with the City Cycle Tour With A Wine Break, starting at the Stella Maris tourist compound and taking a route along the Umag coast all the way to the center of Umag. Participants could taste well-known local delicacies and wines in the newly opened wine bar, ItIstria. Having passed the finishing line, both the participants and the spectators were treated to a Wine & Cheese party.
This was all just a warm up for the central cycling event of the weekend – the main race, taking place on October 1st, starting and finishing at Umag’s Stella Maris, with the participants having a choice of two different routes. Most decided to take on the Istria Granfondo Small Race, that was 88 kilometers in length, while Istria Granfondo Classic’s 128 kilometers were intended for participants ready for a bigger challenge.
At the start of the marathon there were over 630 registered participants from 12 countries! The neighbouring Slovenia has the most registered participants, marking the first time the number of people from a single foreign country outnumbered local registrations. Also, Croatian and Slovenian cyclists made up over half of the marathon! There has been an increase in participants from Italy and Austria, as well. Apart from Europe, cyclists from the far away USA also took part!
The first cyclist to come through the Granfondo Small’s finishing line was Andrea Calza, with the time of 2.19,37 hours while the winner of Granfondo Classic was Josip Rumac, Croatia’s triple cycling champion, thanks to his race time of 3.13,45 hours. Awards were given out in a total of 12 categories for each route.
The traditional recreational cycling race Istria Granfondo Family and Gourmet Tour in Novigrad had been planned for October 2nd but, unfortunately, did not take place due to unfavorable weather.
Unlike previous marathons, this year’s main race had been shifted from Sunday to Saturday, resulting in an increase of overnight and weekend stays of cyclists in Northwestern Istria. Also, a great interest in Istria Granfondo was shown by many foreign media, whose representatives covered the race directly by staying in Northwestern Istria, simultaneously experiencing its spirit and getting familiar with its off-season offer. There is no doubt this will have a positive marketing impact on next year’s race. Finally, all we can say is: we can’t wait for Istria Granfondo 2017!