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Mario Cipollini Gran Fondo - new for 2012

A ride with the Lion King after a gala dinner? Don't mind if we do.....

Seems like every cycling legend is heading to our manor for a bit of Gran Fondo action. Last year we had Eddy Merckx, and now we've received the details for the Mario Cipollini Gran Fondo, taking place at Redwood Lodge Country Club, Bristol, on 21-22 April 2012.

So you pays your money and get to try and keep up with a bona-fide legend? Yes, but it's much more than that. There's the 115km ride (with 1,650m of climbing) on the Sunday, of course, but this is a weekender and it starts at 5pm on Saturday with registration and drinkies. After that there's a gala dinner at the Country Club: three courses of fine dining with interviews with the great man and a surprise after dinner speaker too. All the facilities at the hotel - including pool, tennis courts and gym - are open to the event participants and their partners. There's a special rate if you want to stay over, too.

On the Sunday of the race there's pre- and post-ride coffee and cakes, and every finisher will receive a commemorative jersey. There's a massage team on hand too, and you get to make use of the gym's showers and changing facilities, so you can pack your towel for actually drying yourself with, rather than using it as your car park changing room.

The ride itself will feature all the usual sportivey bits such as chip timing and feed stations; the Cipollini team car and a mobile mechanic will be out on course too, and there's a sag wagon if those Mendip climbs prove too much on the day.

Nothing comes for free, and especially not long rides and three course meals in the company of cycling royalty. The Gran Fondo is £100 a ticket with the Gala dinner costing you £40 on top of that. And if you want to stay over it's £65 for a single room or £45 each for a double or twin. So if you're bringing your significant other and making a weekend of it, you'll be out of pocket to the tune of £270, even if he/she just sits in the pool all day while you're out busting a gut trying to keep on Cipo's wheel across the Somerset levels. That kind of outlay isn't for everyone, but if you fancy a top weekend of early season riding and hobnobbing, head on over to and explore some more...

Dave is a founding father of, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.

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