If the one -day Cyclo La Marmotte would be included in its entirety in the schedule of the Tour de France, riders and followers would most likely refer to the stage as the queen stage. And rightly so, because just stand on it: a trip through the French Alps of about 175 kilometers over 4 cols, 3 of which of the outdoor category and more than 5000 to be bridged altimeters.

Sometimes pros ride along, such as Laurent Brochard and Laurens ten Dam, who won the Marmotte in 1992 and 2003. The fastest arrives in recent years after about 5.5 hours. The last finishers usually take nine hours longer.

The first turtleneck to come across the riders after the departure from Le Bourg-d’oisans, at the foot of the Alpe d’Huez, is the Col du Glandon, in the heart of the Grandes Rousses Massif. The mountain is named after the fruits of the beeches that grow on the flanks. They are in French under thegland(acorns).

Hence Glandon. The mountain pass was already opened in 1898 and is only open from May to October, because it is impassable for snowfall for the other months.

It was on this long, irregular climb of 24 kilometers that the large Eddy Merckx experienced one of the toughest days in his career, actually the end of the Super Champion. After he had been defeated two years earlier in the Tour de France by Bernard Thévenet and the 1976 edition, Merckx was in 1977 for his 6evictory traveled to France. But Merckx got a stomach run after a food poisoning and in a heavy mountain stage he broke that up. Gagging Merckx De Col de Madeleine climbed. He was unloaded twelve kilometers below the top. On character, the Belgian in the descent joined the leading group again, but on the Glandon the spectators Merckx only really saw suffering. At the place where cyclists have a view of Mont Blanc in good weather, the cannibal had to vomit regularly. The Rondarts estimated his condition as a very criticism and let an ambulance drive behind the driver for the rest of the stage. Merckx could not eat anything all day and lost the Tour there, yet he found the power to hardly lose time on the final climb to Alpe d’Huez. As an active rider, Merckx would never return to the Alps again. Steven Rooks has better memories of the Glandon. In 1988 he came up first, on his way to his victory over Alpe d’Huez and the win in the mountain classification.
Col du Telegraphe

The next col owes its name to the signal installation that was constructed for military purposes next to the fort from the time of Napoleon: the Col du Télégraphe. It is also called the satellite of the Galibier, because both cols actually form one long climb. Le Télégraphe is certainly not the most difficult mountain of the Marmotte, but according to Joop Zoetemelk 'the Télégraphe is not running, you shift an accident' and Hennie Kuiper noticed that 'the road is slightly flatter when you get above the deciduous trees. " Many riders also call it a nice, even climb, wooded and, as usual in the Alps, with many hairpin bends. The Télégraphe is deceptive, because if riders suspect that they are almost upstairs, the mountain wall turns out to be a lot.

In the descent (5 km) to Valloire, the legs get a moment of rest, and the straight piece of false flat (6 km) to plan Lachat is pleasant because of the view over the river basinFrom the rivers that come out in the Valloirette. When the road turns to the right, the serious climbing that Gert-Jan Theunisse loved so much. "Mountains in the Alps such as the Galibier were just good. I thought it was wonderful if you exceeded 2000 meters, then few other riders could come with it. In the Alps, the Galibier is the most beautiful mountain, the real climbing. "Theunisse was the first to emerged in 1989 (just like Joop Zoetemelk in 1972). De Brabander was furious on his PDM teammates who did not want to ride for him. His anger resulted in a solo of 130 kilometers, the victory over Alpe d’Huez and the definitive conquest of the ball sweater.

Thin air

Theunisse was able to handle the thin air and on the Galibier that is a big advantage, because soon after plan Lachat the riders reach the age of 2000 meters. After 27 kilometers of climbing (from the foot of the Télégraphe) the toughest moments come with a series of debilitating hairpin bends. Yet there is already a view of the top, at the end of a rough and desolate rock landscape where even in July sometimes there is still a lot of snow. The climb flattened a bit and keeps on stable, about 9 percent, but many riders ride here with vibrating legs and panting through the oxygen debt like a shepherd dog in a closed car in the burning sun. A consolation for the riders: Tour winner also called it "a trap that I never got over." 

In the long descent of the Galibier and the Col du Lautaret (2058 meters) there is a chance to recover somewhat for the last col of the day, Alpe d’Huez. Normally the Dutch Berg is already a leg breaker, but after 160 kilometers over 3 cols all the way. But whoever has come that far can also handle the last 21 turns, right?

Ravitalling points
Where can you eat well during the Marmotte?

  • After the barrage du verney - flat after you have risen the jump -off
  • Le River d'Altemont - Dorp where the road runs slightly flatter
  • After the first descent and steep climb - you can quickly use a gel/bar before you start climbing again
  • After the Barrage du Lac de Grand Maison - Another fairly flat piece where you can gain energy for the climb to the Glandon
  • A few kilometers for the top - there is another flat descent there
  • On the Glandon - Eat a bar here so that it can be digested during the descent
  • After the descent of the glandon towards the Telegraph
Tip: Make sure you can ride with a group in this piece .... This saves a lot of energy that you can use again later
In this part of the Marmotte it becomes extra important to keep eating and drinking well because you are already slowly starting to get tired. The moments where you can eat are scarce due to the steepness of the road, villages, tunnels and wind ....
  • During the climb of the Telegraph and on top of the col
  • The Galibier remains a difficult mountain. Grab every chance you have to eat ....
Call from the Galibier .... until Bourg d'Oisan you have a large part with another climb in between. Try to eat as well as possible in the descent.
The route
Download the route of La Marmotte here:
The Marmotte is a beautiful but very challenging trip for the experienced cyclist. Beautiful views, big altimeters and especially a mental challenge ensure that the Marmotte is not reserved for everyone. Make sure your energy level is well distributed ... The Alpe d'Huez at the end is a tough dessert.