For those that dont know Johnny Ward managed to get an opportunity to compete in the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships. Rather than just report on where he finished I decided to throw a few questions at him so that it might inspire another Dromara CC rider that it might be crazy to do something like this but it is possible.

Q1 What was the race you did and how did you qualify to take part?

The “UCI Gran Fondo World Championships” it’s a Scratch Race (Cat5 all the way up to UCI pro team) for age groups I raced in the M35-39 (191 Riders and finished 133rd) I was 28th

Qualified; “Tour of Ayrshire” April was 12th in my Race and then Qualified again (not required but to prove to myself 1st wasn’t a lucky race in “Tour of Cambridge” June

Q2 What was the training plan for the event

I developed my own “Annual Training Plan” in Trainingpeaks and used TrainerRoad indoors for the first part of the winter base and builds with up to 3.5hr rides (and not just im soft and like the heat and dry lol)

Then worked in A4 races as sharpening or peaking races before the main “A” Qualification races.

Q3 How did the race go? Any challenges to over come?

The race started hot and just continued to get hotter! From the line through the naturalised zone until the bottom of 2nd climb @ 35Mi in we averaged 25mph with over 500m of climbing already on the legs! Just before the start of the main climb there was a bad crash and this caused a big split in the pack unfortunately I was just on the wrong side of the split. The main climb was a long steady affair at 22mins with near “10Mi ITT” power just trying to stay in touch with the group around the descent off the top was fast and twisty but wonderfully cooling none the less.

The flat section after it started to break up the groups even further and those that had been holding back on the climb now used it to get up the road, with the heat rising I was having to hold back and play the long game. The second main climb was shorter but steeper and now the legs were starting to scream and from there it would be a case of damage limitation as was the same for most of the field coming from colder climates. Coming in the last 10km a ride I had covered twice in as many days previous I started to push on as hard as I could knowing cold refreshments were within a stones throw and worked with a couple of guys to increase our speed and maintain places but with the 2km marker board we heard a large group of riders coming from behind and that spurred us on even if we wernt riding for top placings by that point. The final straight was on a race track and this gave a great opportunity to lay down a watt bomb and sprint for the line if not for places then for bravado if nothing else, I managed to hold on to take the lead of the group just catching us at the line which saved a few placing if nothing else! On finishing I felt relieved that it was over and being greeted with a big glass of cold Coca-Cola was just the best as was the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th ones lol

I did say it was thirsty work all this French Racing

Q4 what are the plans for the rest of the year?

The second phase of Season 2017 kicked off the very next morning as it happens with only 41 Days from then until Chicago Marathon and then a further month until the New York Marathon which I was lucky enough to secure a place in, all in a bid to get my “Six star” finishers medal from the Abbots world marathon series

Q5 With that in the bag what’s the goals for next year?

Well on crossing the line I swore I wouldn’t be racing the World Champs next year as I was in a whole world of pain and suffering but I have since moved to a more 50/ 50 stance as its in Varese Italy cooler conditions in the Alps perhaps? But either way I might aim to race in the Tour of Ayrshire again to see how I develop and to see if I can at least qualify again for next years final.

Other than that I have no long term goals lined up yet but as this year moving up from A4 to A3 as part of the background training/ racing I would like to continue on with some A3 races to give something to aim for with the possibility of a couple of ultra events possible on the cards but that’s a work in progress situation! 😉


First off a huge well done to Johnny Ward for attempting something like this and all the best for next year’s goals. Of course a thanks for taking the time to answer the questions and if you have a crazy idea that you want to go at expect to answer a few questions when you finish.