My journey to 2023 UCI Gran Fondo World Championships, Perth, Scotland

By Nancy S. Tippaya

I remembered the first time I saw Mr. Bonner at the start line of the 2016 UCI Gran Fondo World Championships in Perth, WA. I thought, “This is really cool!” Since then, I have seen the green and gold custom SPR kit flying around in France and Italy, and it has absolutely inspired me… One day, maybe one day. Fast forward to 2022, I signed up for Amy’s Gran Fondo race in Lorne. It was fantastic, in my opinion. After all the hard work, I finished 4th. Yes, I missed the podium by a second and no UCI qualifier medal. After racing in ToMR with the SPR W1 team, I completely stopped my structured training and most of the weekend racing. On top of that, I had a couple of injuries. In May 2023, I received an official email stating that I had qualified! It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but I believed this might be my only chance. Yes, I’m going!

I had to constantly motivate myself as I was rebuilding my fitness to a level where I believed I could finish the race. I couldn’t commit to the full training schedule due to work and time constraints. Thankfully, I received tremendous support from my former coach, my cycling family & friends, David Menarry, my awesome wicked sisters 👯‍♀️ Megs & FDJ, and my partner Phillip. Their support kept me motivated. The key points for me were “sleep, eating, being sensible, knowing your strengths, and your ability”. About a week before my departure, I felt a surge of confidence… I was ready.”

The bike arrived in Scotland without any issues…as opposed to Amy’s GF race last year. 

Race recon with Team Australia organised by Sportive Breaks

The “Super” World Championships took place this year, and it was the inaugural edition featuring about 13 different cycling disciplines. I was extremely excited to watch all the races, and it was my first time in Scotland. To cut a long story short, I had to represent Thailand. A big thank you to Tom from Mayuer Cycling for the exceptional kit, which is apparently the only one of its kind in the world.

The starting pen for my age group.

Race day in Perth, but not the one in WA. The weather was perfect. I went through my usual warm-up routine, and the start line was just in front of the hotel. I rolled into the starting pen and met more Aussie riders in my age group. The race began and it was hectic. I managed to start at the front but, not long after, found myself dropping to the back. With a distance of ~160km and approximately ~1900m of climbing, rolling course with three major climbs, I knew it would be a long day. It was as surgy as I had expected. As for the road terrain—well, if you’re familiar with roads in the UK, you’ll understand why I have no further comments. I was hanging at the back, focusing on staying upright during the first hour of the race. After a major climb, the group split. I tried chasing back and encouraged other riders, but that was challenging, especially against a headwind.

Two age groups started together. I was in the front row… only at the startline though. 

We were riding in a small group, and as we went, we picked up more riders from another women’s group, probably about 12-14. I nearly got dropped during the second major climb, but thanks to a fast descent, I managed to rejoin. Later, we caught up to another group, forming a substantial sized peloton. However, we split again after the feed zone. It was chaotic, and I lost track of the race’s dynamics. I found myself in a smaller group, riding alongside a lady representing France in my age category. By this point, exhaustion had set in for everyone I could see. Yet, the pace on the flat was high, especially with strong gentlemen pulling the turns. Eventually, I found myself riding solo, with no sight of the lady behind me. “Keep going,” I continuously said to myself.

The highlight of this event for me was the spectators. Almost every town we rode through, I heard shouts of “Thailand!” Yes, my kit stood out, haha! I must admit, I had a few tears in my eyes while riding alone through one of the towns, with hundreds of spectators still cheering by the roadside. “Go Thailand!” There were only 30-40kms left at that point, and I didn’t want to give up. My legs were aching, water was running low, and I was craving gelato instead of gels. But the cheers of the crowd pumped me up. Fortunately, I was caught by another small group of two Aussie riders – yay! We worked together and crossed the finish line safely. I did it! I finished 41st out of 51 on the startlist. It’s done and dusted. This was truly one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I’ve always told David how amazing it is to see how far we’ve come since we started cycling.

Photo by Suzanne. Thank you 💕


The rest of the trip in Scotland was dedicated to the World Championships races. Phillip and I stayed to watch track cycling, trials – this one has blown my mind!, and both Men’s and Women’s road races and individual time trial. I achieved my mission of getting Annamiek to sign my SPR jersey. I was dashing around the team bus, taking selfies with the pros. That was the perfect wrap-up for me.

Annemiek van Vleuten. My mission is complete.

I hope my story can inspire many of you who might be considering participating in qualifying events like the Tour de Brisbane and Amy’s Gran Fondo. It’s a fantastic experience that can lead to the WC event, as my journey this year has shown. My next ambitious goal is the second Super World Champs in 2027, which will be in France according to the announcement last year. So, more training and more qualifying races are on the horizon for me.

Lastly, Amy’s GF is this weekend. I’m sending all the best wishes to our SPR members who are racing. Have fun and race hard! Go green!”