Sportive vs Gran Fondo

What’s a gran fondo? How does it compare to a sportive? That’s what we’ll be looking at today: sportive vs gran fondo.


We’ve explained what a sportive is already but briefly, it’s a non-competitive, mass participation cycling event. Have we drilled that in enough yet?

Gran Fondo

Wikipedia says that a Gran Fondo is:

The Gran Fondo is a type of long-distance road bicycle race, in which riders are individually chip timed and have the right of way at all intersections.

It’s probably a bit disingenuous to call it a race, as we keep repeating that sportives are not races, and a Gran Fondo is closer to a sportive than a race. They are basically, excuse our hand waving, Italian-originating sportives.

Gran Fondos are typically well organised, serious cycling challenges spanning many miles of distance and many feet of elevation.

They’re usually well organised with rider chip timing, well stocked feed stops, often a start or finish expo and other things (check) for participants.

While not necessarily fully closed road, they do have traffic held back at intersections to allow the riders through.

Here’s a taster video from a Gran Fondo in Somerset:

Another typical Italian Gran Fondo is the Prosecco Cycling Gran Fondo, where they serve prosecco at the feed stops!

Sportive vs Gran Fondo

Sportives and Gran Fondos are very similar. The main difference is that some sportives can be very low key, small affairs. Not all sportives are like the RideLondon. On the other hand, Gran Fondos typically are very serious, well organised events. They typically attract an experienced and hardy field and considered tough challenges. Especially if you try and keep with the fastest groups, which can include ex-professionals and serious amateur cyclists.

A final difference is that true Italian Gran Fondos are not restricted to cycling events. There are also running and skiing Gran Fondos. The phrase is literally translated as “great endurance” or “great distance”, rather than anything cycling specific.

If you’d like to find out more about sportives and gran fondos, please sign up for updates below or at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *