U23 Racer Zach McDonald takes the overall win at Day 2 of Providence. Todd Prekaski

Here, Zach McDonald takes the overall win at Day 2 of Providence. © Todd Prekaski

PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND – It’s here! Just in time for the fall foliage season, the Gran Fondo New England makes its debut on Sunday, October 6 at the Providence Cyclo-cross Festival. Organized by Brian Ignatin of Kermesse Sport, the New England Gran Fondo expands the footprint of the Festival beyond the green of Roger Williams Park and onto the asphalt playground that awaits outside the city.

Course designer Matt Moritz drew his inspiration for the routes from Italy’s fall Classic, the Tour of Lombardy, also known as the Race of the Falling Leaves. Moritz said of the courses, “Lombardia goes up and down the hills around Lake Como; we’re sending riders past the Scituate and Barden reservoirs. And while we don’t have a classic climb like the Ghisallo, we’ve incorporated enough climbs to make it challenging.”
Jake Keough, a pro cyclist with the United Healthcare team, serves as this year’s Ride Ambassador. Keough, already well known from his years racing professionally on the domestic circuit, took his first major stage win in this year’s Tour of Portugal  and will escort riders out of Roger Williams Park at the start and along the Gran Fondo course.
Gran Fondo New England offers riders three options:
  • Piccolo Fondo– The short course takes riders on a comfortable route through the outskirts of the city, past the Cranston Country Club, north past the J.L. Curran Park and heads back toward the city after the Alpine Country Club in Cranston. The 27-mile course is ideal for those looking to partake in the fun of a group ride, while staying close to home.  The short course stays entirely in Rhode Island.
  • Medio Fondo– This 64-mile route heads further west after the Cranston Country Club and along the Scituate Reservoir. Riders skirt the Audubon Society George B. Parker Woodland, before crossing into Connecticut. The route continues through Sterling, Conn. and north, curving east and crossing the Barden and Scituate reservoirs before heading back into the city.
  • Gran Fondo– Follows the route of the Medio Fondo through Sterling, curves north toward the Massachusetts border and the Douglas State Forest then routes riders south toward the Scituate reservoir before heading back into Providence. This 103-mile route includes four aid stations and a total of 6,334’ of elevation gain.
All the courses promise back road riding, aid stations stocked with Clif Bar energy products and an on-road support crew. A portion of each Gran Fondo New England entry goes to the official charity partner, the East Coast Greenway Alliance. Registration for the Gran Fondo is now open.