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Managing your Effort Level During a Gran Fondo

Given a Gran Fondo (or Sportive) and vary in distance or terrain it can be hard to know how to pace and manage your effort level for these types of events. Ensuring you don’t push too hard and burn out before the finish line can be harder to manage compared to a flat shorter race. So, this post goes through what is roughly the most appropriate effort level for you to consider.

Let’s consider the Gran Fondo distance. Naturally the longer the distance the lower the effort level. You can see in the below table an intensity range (represented as a percent of your FTP) for the powers you should be sustaining.


Effort Level (% of FTP)



100 km (62 miles)


100 miles (160km)

< 75%

A lot of these efforts from the table in high zone 2/zone 3. You should find a lot of your intervals are sub-threshold style to teach the muscles how to cope with these intensities.

Let’s say your FTP is 300w and you have been training for a 100 mile Gran Fondo. Your target intensity is roughly 75% of your FTP, which in this case is 225w at most. However, you want to make sure you are paying attention to your normalised power over your average power given the course is likely to have a lot of elevation.

We can specify the effort level further by considering your strengths and weakness. Let’s say you have a 100km Gran Fondo (In theory you roughly want an effort level between 75-85% of your FTP) with 3000 meters of elevation gain (divided into 2 large climbs), but you know you are better along the flat sections compared to the climbing sections. You can distribute your effort accordingly, see the example in the below table.


Effort Level (% of FTP)

0-20km - Flat


21-40km - Climb 1


41-50km - Downhill/Flat


51-70km - Climb 2


71-100km - Downhill/Flat


So pacing a Gran Fondo is about ensuring you find the right intensity for a given distance and match your effort level to the terrain and your strength and weakness.

Some extra tips that may be helpful: Find out the elevation per km for your Gran Fondo course, then aim to replicate that elevation per km in your training rides. During your weekend long rides try riding at your planned pace/intensity you expect to hit for your event for 30-60 minutes.

Now you should have a clearer idea of the intensity you plan to ride at, go find out how to fuel for a Gran Fondo in the next article.

If you have any further questions please don't hesitate to drop BCA and email:



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