Zappi's Gran Fondo
Event: 25 August 2013
Location: Oxford City FC, Oxford
Zappi’s Gran Fondo, now in its second year, continues to ride the wave of success that engulfed the first and take Oxfordshire’s newest sportive to even greater heights! In 2012, the inaugural Gran Fondo (meaning long-distance) saw 350 riders sign up and take on one of two challenging routes, both starting and finishing inside the ring road of Oxford.
Above: The man behind the event - Former pro-cyclist Flavio Zappi in his eponymous bike cafe in Oxford. Flavio hopes to say 'ciao' to you on 25 August so save the date!
This year the event will be held on Sunday 25 August, and will have a new home due to its growth in popularity and positive feedback from last year’s participants. The Oxford City Football Ground, on Marston Road, is situated perfectly for cycling out into the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside, the football ground includes ample parking and regular transport links into Oxford needed to make such an event a success.
New additions to the 2013 event will be three brand new routes for riders to choose from, including distances of 34, 60 and 100 miles (current estimates), which means all levels and abilities will be catered for. Our new headquarters will also offer a huge amount of support and amenities on-site, including change rooms, showers, hot food and a post-ride massage.
The Gran Fondo is of course the brainchild of former Italian pro-cyclist, Flavio Zappi. If you live and cycle in Oxfordshire you will have seen him out and about, or maybe visited Zappi’s Café at Bikezone in the centre of town, which opened in its new location last year, and has quickly become the go-to cafe for the best coffee in town.
Flavio’s accomplishments are many including, a top 10 finish in the 1984 Giro d’Italia, wearing the Green Points Jersey for nearly two weeks and finishing in the top 20 of the cobbled classic, Paris-Roubaix. Upon meeting a cute English girl, Flavio relocated to the UK to make a move into catering. After 20 years away from riding he rekindled his love affair after finding a bicycle in a skip, he went out in baggy shorts and t-shirt with some old trainers and that first ride brought it all back to him. He began riding with the University of Oxford Cycling Club - choosing not to let on about what his history was in the sport.
Zappi got dropped on his first club ride, but ride after ride he got stronger and stronger, and was racing again within a few short months. The next year he started a club, Zappi’s Cycling Club, which has now grown to 200 international members and a Facebook based community of over 700. Zappi now runs his Pro Team, Zappi's Pro Cycling, with the aim of producing an under-23 World Tour cyclist within five years; his current line-up of riders includes Dan Pearson, former Junior National Road Champion and current Welsh Road Champion. The Zappi brand extends to bicycles and kit, and these will be available to inspect and try out on the day.
Zappi explained about the ride: “After the first year success it’s a great opportunity to show people how fantastic our club is and what the Zappi’s philosophy is all about. I think it’s very important for people to enjoy themselves whilst on the bike and to not be too serious, we are a family here and are very easy going so if you’re not a Zappi’s rest assured you’ll feel at home.” Zappi echoes the feedback received from last year’s participants about how friendly and down to earth the event felt.
Zappi can regularly be seen leading rides three times a week from the Zappi’s Café in the centre of Oxford, now nearing 50 years old Flavio is still in formidable shape, and keeps many of the younger riders on their toes. Zappi will be riding the event and he may even bring a couple of his famous Italian cycling friends along for the rides too so watch this space.
Various event partners will be announced over the coming months to make the event truly Italian in both taste and feeling. The event is being run in close coordination with the Oxford City Council to ensure the safety and welfare of participants is kept to the highest possible level.