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I guess you can include Century in the list too. Are they all just long rides or are they races? Do they have to be for time, or just fun? Some seem to be for charity.

share|improve this question – Jefromi Aug 30 '12 at 17:42
up vote 2 down vote accepted

All three terms refer to mass participation events that are open to amateur cyclists. They are timed events but they are not races, although some of them are very competitive and there are sometimes prizes on offer for the best times.

The Etape du Tour is French. Each year two stages from the Tour de France are replicated on closed roads for amateur cyclists to enter.

Gran Fondos are Italian. They are timed events with one of the best known being the Maratona Dles Dolomites.

Century Rides is the term used in the United States.

In the UK and in France they are also called Sportives or Cyclo Sportives.

These events are very popular with cyclists and the largest attract thousands of participants.

share|improve this answer
This is a good answer. Just to clarify, in the U.S. a "century" is 100 miles, and a "metric century" is 100 kilometers. – amcnabb Aug 31 '12 at 16:31
Gran fondo is an Italian name but there are definitely races in the US called gran fondos. – Jefromi Aug 31 '12 at 17:22
And to add to amcnabb'a clarification: century only refers to the distance. I could go out and ride a century by myself this weekend, and an organized ride might not be a century. – Jefromi Aug 31 '12 at 17:27

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