Project Sport to Acquire Echelon Gran Fondo Series

Project Sport to Acquire Echelon Gran Fondo Series

December 4th, 2012

Veteran Running/Cycling Promoter to Produce NorCal & Oregon Rides; Renews Partnership With Eventbrite

San Francisco-based sports marketer Project Sport is announcing today that effective immediately it is assuming operations of the Echelon Gran Fondo Series, and is renewing its partnership with Eventbrite to register and promote the events. In 2013 this series will include mass cycling events in Northern California’s Wine Country and Silicon Valley regions as well as Hood River, Oregon — while building out additional partner events nationwide in subsequent seasons.

Project Sport adds the series to an established roster of cycling events. The firm is foremost known for its San Rafael Twilight Criterium – now in its 15th year — and on three occasions has produced the official launch event of the Amgen Tour of California: 2012’s Life Time Gran Fondo and the Sacramento Grand Prix in 2010 and 2011. The company also produces running events, most notably the US Half Marathon in San Francisco.

“We entered the gran fondo format last year at the Tour, and this is a natural progression for us,” said Project Sport founder Ryan Dawkins. “The fondo provides all the pageantry of our pro cycling events, while making it available to the masses like our running events. It’s the perfect union.”

The gran fondo, a term borne of Italian cycling traditions meaning “big ride,” is fast growing in popularity. Riders are not timed as in a competitive race, yet share course challenges in an environment that allows them to simulate a Tour de France-like event. Fondos traditionally include a celebratory atmosphere of food, drink, music and community.

The Echelon Series shifts to Project Sport from previous race director Hunter Ziesing, who created the series in 2009. Ziesing, also CEO of the charitable fundraising engine Charity of Choice, is moving into that role full time.

“Project Sport and Charity of Choice will be working closely together,” said Ziesing. “We are really excited to bring in a major operator so that we can focus on charity.” Each of Project Sport’s events have benefited a charitable organization, including St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, The Salvation Army, Trips for Kids, The Challenged Athlete Foundation, and the San Francisco & Marin Food Banks.

Since entering cycling with 2008’s San Francisco Twilight Criterium, Project Sport has built a reputation of being dedicated to cyclist-athletes. “We’ve always aimed to make our riders feel like the elite athletes they are,” said Dawkins. “We field professionals and Olympians, and will provide no less an experience to our Fondo riders.”

Project Sport’s focus on offering participants a seamless experience–from registration to racing–has also lead to a partnership with Eventbrite for athlete registration. Project Sport teamed up with Eventbrite for the 2012 San Rafael Twilight Criterium, and now the partnership will grow to include the entire Echelon Gran Fondo series, so that cyclists can easily register online and share race information with their friends. 

“Project Sport’s events are on par with any elite production in sports,” confirmed Nicola Cranmer, general manager of the Exergy TWENTY16 professional women’s cycling team, whose athletes have raced Project Sport events since 2008. “Athletes are made to feel like they’re on a world stage, and raise their level of performance accordingly. They have always been especially dedicated to women’s cycling. And on top of it all, their events and their team are always a blow out party.”

The 2013 Echelon Gran Fondo Series is scheduled to begin with the Sonoma-Napa event on May 18, prior to the Santa Rosa arrival of the final stage of the Amgen Tour of California. Palo Alto and Hood River dates are currently being finalized. Registration for the Sonoma-Napa Gran Fondo is open now.