The biggest road race in Estonia, the annual Tartu Cycling Rally (Tartu Rattaralli) is set to take place for the 42nd time on the last Sunday of May. Those taking part will have the chance to book a place at this summer's World Championships in Glasgow.
For the second year in a row, the 128 km race on the Tartu Cycling Rally (Tartu Rattaralli) will be part of the international UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) Gran Fondo World Series. Amateur cyclists from all over the world will be taking part and have the chance to book a place at the 2023 UCI World Gran Fondo Championships.
Last year, Estonia's Merilin Metsalu claimed her UCI Gran Fondo World Championship ticket at the Tartu Cycling Rally, one of the few road races she ever takes part in. "To be honest, I don't really do road races very often, I'm more of a mountain bike rider. The road races I take part in can be counted on the fingers of one hand, but I always try to be there for the Tartu Rally," Metsalu said.
Sure enough, Metsalu was also there in Tartu last year, but after the race she was in for a pleasant surprise when she received an invite to the awards ceremony for coming third in her age group. "Sometime later, I got an email saying I was in the top 20 percent of my age group and had booked a ticket to the Gran Fondo World Championships in Trento. I told my partner that we would definitely be going there, because it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Metsalu.
Metsalu added, that she had two targets going into the World Championships in Italy. First of all, to finish and second, not to finish last in her age group. "Both of these goals were met," she said.
Although Metsalu did not know beforehand, that last year's 128 km Tartu Cycling Rally was part of the UCI Gran Fondo series, she now considers it a really important motivating factor. "It's extra motivation for those riders who have no chance of finishing among the best overall at the Tartu Rally. To be able to step onto the podium for your own age group is very exciting. Thanks to the Tartu Rally, a lot of Estonians have the chance to claim a place at the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships and represent Estonia, and I think that's very important," she said.
Just like last year, riders who finish in the top 20 percent of participants for their age group in the 128 km race will be rewarded with a special UCI Gran Fondo Series medal. They will also be eligible to compete in the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships at the end of the season, which will take place from August 4 to 7 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Last year, 764 riders took part in the 128 km Tartu Cycling Rally in the Gran UCI Fondo Series classification. 161 of them won a series medal and got the opportunity to compete in the World Championships in Trento.
A total of 13 Estonians finished the World Championships in Trento, nine of them men and four women, including former Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid, who also earned her place in the finals following a strong performance at last year's Tartu Rally.
The 42nd Tartu Cycling Rally gets underway on May 28. In addition to the 128 km distance, there will also be 60 km and 27 km courses.
More information about this year's event, including registration, can be found here.
Editor: Michael Cole