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Gran Fondo Colnago Philadelphia at capacity

Rocky Balboa's famous training ground

Rocky Balboa's famous training ground (Image credit: Kyle Gradinger/BCGP)

The inaugural Gran Fondo Colnago Philadelphia is set to host 1,700 participants for an Italian-style group ride held throughout the rolling terrain surrounding Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this Sunday.

“We have absolutely sold out,” said co-founder Rob Klingensmith. “If fact, that was the limit that the city put on us for the first year. I think this market can accommodate many more because there is a very strong Italian community in Philadelphia. If you put it into perspective, the first year of Gran Fondo San Diego we had 1,200 and the second year we had 3,200 so this is very encouraging.”

Gran Fondo USA, event organizers, have brought in truck loads of ice to stations along the route to deal with the summer heat and humidity, which is expected to reach above 90 Fahrenheit.

“It is super hot here,” said Klingensmith. “We need to pay close attention to cool the participants along the way. There is a lot of climbing in all three courses.”

The event will offer cyclists three challenging routes: Gran Fondo at 164 km, Medio Fondo at 92 km and Piccolo Fondo at 50 km. All three groups will start together at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Benjamin Franklin Boulevard. The Museum’s steps are best known for their part in the Rocky films.

“We are continuing with our tradition of starting in an urban center,” said Klingensmith. “One of our signatures is the mass start and the athletes led out by Ferraris.”

The group will trail three Ferrari sports cars before heading out along Rive Drive toward the Forge National Park. There is a maximum of 5,000 feet of climbing with a King (and Queen) of the Mountain ascent located at the Valley Forge.

The Gran Fondo Philadelphia is Gran Fondo USA’s second in a series of three Italian-style mass-start group rides. The first-ever event was held last year in San Diego. This year the organization added two new events, Philadelphia this weekend and in Los Angeles on October 24.