A group of professionals will now join the masses in tackling The Growler route at the front of America's premier gran fondo. It is now being offered as an actual race for anyone who wishes to compete. Seasoned and storied athletes will tackle a route that's as difficult as some of the most challenging single-day professional road races in the world. Competitors must approach this grueling route in top form. Men and women will chase a $55,000 cash purse which will be split equitably between the top five of each group. Anyone who races the Growler is eligible.
Levi's GranFondo is, and always has been, much more than a one-day sport. It is part of an inspired culture that dates through more than 100 years of cycling in Sonoma County. Competition on the bicycle established itself here before the 1900s, and it has since prevailed, and flourished in every way.
In the mid 1980s, the televised Coors Classic road race was top of mind, and featured some of the world's most well-known professional athletes of the time: Dale Stetina (yeah, Peter Stetina's dad!), Greg LeMond, Bernard Hinault. In 1988, the race incorporated King Ridge and Coleman Valley roads--the same roads introduced to the masses with our first edition of Levi's GranFondo.
In 2006, AEG created the Amgen Tour of California which significantly boosted the trajectory of racing in the United States, producing a clap of thunder for cycling in California. Levi Leipheimer quickly took center stage, embarking on a 3-year overall winning streak.
In 2016, after working closely with race organizers, AEG agreed to select our original Gran route as the 7th stage of that year's tour. It was dubbed The King Stage, recognizing the caliber of roads in Sonoma County, and pronouncing that Levi's GranFondo delivered good on its promise of offering a challenge worthy of a world tour road race.
But one thing has been missing from our formula for too long now. As we see a shift in the attention of cyclists throughout the United States, and the reality that producing large-scale bike races is tough business, we've resolved to do our part and leverage what we already have, and know to pay it back to the sport that inspired it all.
For these reasons, and so many more, Levi's GranFondo now leads the charge to host a pure road race as an integral component to the best day on two wheels.
All participants who complete The Growler at Levi's GranFondo will earn themselves a unique, one-of-a-kind finishers award.
Recognizing the accomplishment of finishing one of the most challenging single day road courses is something we feel is very important. Beginning in 2024, everyone who completes The Growler route during Levi's GranFondo will earn themselves a one-of-a-kind award to commemorate the accomplishment.