UCI World Cycling Tour logo for age group road cycling racing world championships

Seeing as how we don’t do a lot of race coverage here on Bikerumor, this one slipped past us earlier this year, but it’s pretty cool.

The UCI World Cycling Tour is an amateur age-group competition that crowns a world champion, and it’s a new program for 2011. Even better, the qualifier events tend to be Gran Fondos, so even if you don’t make the cut you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a good time. And the numbers are decent – the top 10% of finishers in each age group get invited to compete for the rainbow jersey. For larger Gran Fondos, that’s a pretty big opening for you to get the nod.

Six countries are holding qualifiers, and the finals are in Belgium and will cover parts of the famed Bastogne-Liege course. Age group categories will only run two minutes apart at the finals, too, so even the big ride is like a mass start party. For U.S. riders, there’s one remaining qualifier and it’s part of the Echelon Gran Fondo Series. The qualifers here are actually a 66 mile road race with age groups starting in five minute intervals beginning at 7:30am. At 9am, the racers are followed by a Gran Fondo ride. Get in it on August 20-21 in Fort Collins, CO.

While not a qualifer, iRide UK has just announced the first-ever Eddy Merckx Gran Fondo in the UK on July 31.

What do you think?