The Amy Gillett Foundation hosted its inaugural Gran Fondo on Sunday, with some 3000 participants taking part in the 120 kilometre ride from Lorne, Victoria. The event, which is the first of its kind in Australia is part of trend of Grand Fondo's popping up all over the world.
The route followed the picturesque Great Ocean road and included a field from weekend warriors, to some of the strongest elite cyclists in Australia. The Gran Fondo adds to already existing event Amy's Ride, and both are part of a campaign by the foundation to raise awareness for road safety, with the long-term aim to decrease the number of cyclists who lose their lives on the road every year.
David Lee from the Amy Gillett foundation explained to Cyclingnews that the success of the Grand Fondo is a big step in the progress and growth of the foundation.
"We know our message is now reaching more than 3 million Australians, and that in itself is leading to a groundswell of support," said Lee. "We're now speaking to ministers at a state and federal level, and we're at that point now where, we're pushing for legislative review."
"The ride on Sunday gives riders a chance to ride like the professionals do on a fully enclosed course, without traffic, and it's certainly an important part of furthering our safety message in Australia."
Lee added that the events status as a UCIWCT qualifier meant that there was also a healthy level of competition at the event.
"The top 25 per cent of the each age category qualifies for the UCIWCT world championships in Belgium, next September, which allows riders who are the top of the amateur level to get some exposure and potentially push up to a professional level. So there's also that element, which adds to our grassroots and community rides.
The fastest rider in the men's category was Peter Dennis who completed the hilly course in a time just under 3 hours. Of the women the fastest was Rachel Neylan.
The Amy Gillett Foundation, is a not for profit organisation, started in the memory of former Australian national representative Amy Gillett who was tragically killed while training in Germany. Their vision is to eliminate bike related fatalities on the road. You can find out more about the foundation here.