Gran Fondo Hincapie tests expansion with Chattanooga event Saturday

Gran Fondo Hincapie tests expansion with Chattanooga event Saturday

May 4th, 2018 by Mark Pace in Local Regional News
Former pro cyclist George Hincapie talks to the bikers before the start of the 3 State 3 Mountain Challenge in 2013.

Former pro cyclist George Hincapie talks to the...

Photo by Connor Choate /Times Free Press.

Three legends in the cycling world will wheel through Chattanooga this Cinco de Mayo as nearly 1,500 riders gear up for the city's first Gran Fondo Hincapie.

Cyclists George and Rich Hincapie are bringing their high-end event to Chattanooga to test a potential expansion. The race, which traditionally has been held in the brothers' hometown of Greenville, S.C., will feature a timed race, a ride jersey, live streaming, bands, a post-ride festival, an after-party and more for riders. Additional events, such as a celebrity chef dinner Friday at the Tennessee Aquarium, are available for other fees.

"We have experience putting on events, but not outside of Greenville," said George Hincapie, one of the most successful support riders in cycling history who started a record 17 Tour de Frances. "It's been great to have the support of the city, especially on things we're not familiar with. We love the route here; the route is beautiful. I think people are going to enjoy it and love it for years to come."

The brothers' company, Hincapie Events, plans to launch the event worldwide. They chose Chattanooga as the first expansion city because of its similar climate and terrain to Greenville. They also have industry contacts in Chattanooga and have heard about its reputation for hosting outdoors events. The brothers were looking for a city that was not overpopulated but still had enough potential riders to justify the event, and wanted to host the event "far enough and close enough to make sense," Rich Hincapie said.

Celebrity riders attending the weekend include George Hincapie; Christian Vande Velde, a former top professional cyclist who raced for the U.S. Postal Service Team and current cycling analyst; and Bobby Julich, one of the only Americans to finish on the podium in the history of the Tour de France.

"I think it's a great opportunity for our local cyclists to ride with someone who has so much exposure in the biking world," Chattanooga Open Spaces Activation and Engagement Specialist Jonathan Susman said. "It's great for the city that they're bringing this to Chattanooga. It shows that Chattanooga is a great destination for these sorts of outdoor activities."

The event will begin and end in front of the Bessie Smith Cultural Center on M.L. King Boulevard. The ride is timed and there will be riders aiming to win, George Hincapie said, but many of the participants will be using the event as a fun, casual ride. The race features 15-, 50- and 80-mile routes. Registration is available in front of the cultural center today from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. The price ranges from $100 to $250 and up.

Contact staff writer Mark Pace at or 423-757-6659. Follow him on Twitter @themarkpace and on Facebook at ChattanoogaOutdoorsTFP.

Traffic Impact

Cyclists will be escorted by CPD officers at 7:45 am on Saturday, May 5 on West 10th Street to Broad Street, Broad Street to Cummings Highway, and cyclists will ride with traffic continuing through Tiftonia to Black Creek and Jasper and Marion County. Cyclists will return riding with traffic through Tiftonia around the base of Lookout Mtn to Broad Street, using a closed lane on Cummings Highway, and continuing north on Broad Street, right (east) onto West 33rd Street, left (north) onto Alton Park Blvd/Market Street, right (east) onto West 12th Street/Houston Street, then west (left) on East 10th Street. The event will begin at 7:45 am and continue until 4:00 pm on Saturday, May 5. Please watch for cyclists in these areas and travel with caution.

via City of Chattanooga