Blue Mountains Gravel Fondo in Ontario’s gravel paradise

In our series to present the new races in the 2023 Trek UCI Gravel World Series calendar, we have arrived at the latest new event on the calendar, taking place on June 11th in Thornbury, Ontario, Canada.

The race is based in the same region as the UCI Gran Fondo World Series event that was organised for five consecutive years from 2015-2019 by multiple Gran Fondo World Champion Bruce Bird.

Bruce: “The region has a lot of gravel roads and is a perfect paradise for gravel lovers with a network of roads on the undulating terrain in the Town of the Blue Mountains, which is ideally set in between the Niagara Escarpment and Georgian Bay providing for scenic vistas. For this event I’m cooperating with the organisers of Paris-Ancaster, the biggest gravel event in the region and counting as Canadian Gravel Championships this year with over 2000 entries.”

What course can riders expect?

“We designed a 42km course which needs to be done twice for men over 60 and women over 50 while younger age groups do an extra lap and finish after having completed 126kms. All formalities like registration and podium ceremonies are taking place in Thornbury at the Beaver Valley Community Centre. The start / finish line is located on gravel roads in the settlement of Redwing 13kms south of Thornbury.”

Is it a hard course?

“There is some 500m of elevation per lap, but climbs are never very long and the steeper parts can mostly be mastered with punchy anaerobic efforts. Right after the start, there is a 2km climb that has an 5% overall average gradient with variation of gradient within the climb and another second similar climb after 12km on each lap. The final 2.5km is on a paved road going down to take the last turn right to the finish on gravel which goes slightly up again.”

What is the percentage of gravel compared to road?

“The paved portion of the route is under 25% with the majority of the course on gravel roads and a few off-road sections. It’s a challenging course that was designed to include a mix of terrain and some make use of local favourite gravel roads. We looked to include paved downhill sections where possible with a focus on rider safety. Also with safety in mind the finish line is on an uphill section to help limit the speed of riders who may sprint, but I expect most of the racing for finish position will have already taken place by then.”

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