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Granfondo La Marmotte

If the one-day cyclo La Marmotte would be included in its entirety in the schedule of the Tour de France would then riders and the stage probably describe as the queen. And rightly so, because going there but are on a journey through the French Alps around 175 kilometers over four cols which 3 out of category and more than 5,000 bridge altimeters.

Sometimes driving there with pros like Laurent Brochard and Laurens ten Dam, which Marmotte won in 1992 and 2003. The fastest get the last few years after a 5.5 hour inside. The last finishers usually do nine or longer.

The first climb which the riders encounter after leaving Le Bourg-d'Oisans, at the foot of the Alpe d'Huez, the Col du Glandon, in the heart of the Grandes Rousses massif. The mountain is named for the fruit of the beech trees growing on the flanks. Which are in French under theglands(Acorns) arrayed.

Hence Glandon. The pass has been opened in 1898 and is only open from May to October because of his remaining months impassable due to snow.

It was on this long, irregular climb of 24 kilometers which experienced the great Eddy Merckx one of the worst days of his career, in fact the end of the super champion. After being two years earlier had missed in the Tour de France was defeated by Bernard Thévenet and the edition of 1976, Merckx in 1977 for his 6e victory traveled to France. But Merckx received some food poisoning and diarrhea in a heavy mountain stage he broke that. Merckx gagging climbed the Col de Madeleine. Twelve kilometers he was discharged below the summit. On character joined the Belgian in the descent back to the leading group, but on the Glandon Merckx fans saw really suffering. At the place where cyclists in good weather visibility, the Cannibal had settled on Mont Blanc surrender. The doctor estimated about his condition as very critical and was driving an ambulance behind the driver for the rest of the stage. Merckx could not eat and lost there all day tour, he still found the strength to barely have time to lose on the final climb to Alpe d'Huez. As an active rider Merckx would never return to the Alps. Steven Rooks has better memories of the Glandon. In 1988 he came first over on his way to victory on Alpe d'Huez and the gain in the mountain classification.
Col du Telegraphe

The next climb takes its name from the signaling system that was built for military purposes, next to the fort from the time of Napoleon: the Col du Télégraphe. It is called the Satellite of the Galibier cols because both are basically one long climb. Le Télégraphe is certainly not the most difficult mountain Marmotte, but according to Joop Zoetemelk 'the Télégraphe is not running, you switch your accident' and Hennie Kuiper commented that "the road only goes flatter when you get above the trees." Yet too many riders call it a nice, evenly climbing, woody and, as usual in the Alps, with many hairpin bends. Deceiving the Télégraphe is at the end, because if riders suspect they are nearly over, the mountain appears still a lot by walking.

In the descent (5 km) to Valloire get the legs briefly rest, and the straight false flat (6 km) to Plan Lachat is pleasant because of the view over the basinFrom the rivers that come out in the falloirette. When the road turns to the right, the serious climbing starts where Gert-Jan Theunisse loved. 'Mountains in the Alps such as the Galibier just went well. I found it wonderful if you came over the 2000 meter, few other riders could. In the Alps the Galibier is the most beautiful mountain, the real climbing. "Theunisse was the first to come up in 1989 (just like Joop Zoetemelk in 1972). The Brabanter was furious on his PDM teammates who didn't want to drive for him. His anger resulted in a 130 kilometer solo, the victory at Alpe d'Huez and the final conquest of the scoop of the ball.

Thin air

Theunisse could go well against the thin air and on the Galibier that is a big advantage, because soon after plan Lachat get the riders over 2000 meters. After 27 kilometers of climbing (from the foot of the Télégraphe) come with a series of debilitating hairpin bends the heaviest moments. Yet there is already a view of the top, at the end of a rough and desolate rock landscape where even a lot of snow is still in July. The climb is flattened and remains stable, about 9 percent, but many riders drive here with vibrating legs and panting through the oxygen debt as a shepherd dog in a closed car in the burning sun. A consolation for the riders: Tour winner also called it 'a damping that I have never got over. " 

In the long descent from 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 mountain is already a leg breaker, but after 160 kilometers over 3 Cols completely. But who has already come to the day, the last 21 bends can also be done, right?

Ravitalling points
Where can you eat well during the Marmotte?

  • After the Barrage du Verney - flat piece after you have climbed the barrage
  • Le river d'allemont - village 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 reasonable piece where you can gain energy for the climb to the Glandon
  • A few kilometers for the top - there is a flat descent
  • 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 well later
In this part of the Marmotte it becomes extra important to keep eating and drink well because you are slowly getting tired. The moments where you can eat are scarce through 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 opportunity you have to eat ....
Descent from the Galibier .... to Bourg d'oisan you have a large part of a climb in between. Try to eat as well as possible in the descent.
The route
Download the route from La Marmotte:
The Marmotte is a beautiful but very challenging trip for the experienced cyclist. Beautiful views, considerable altitimes and especially a mental challenge ensure that the Marmotte is not reserved. Make sure your energy level is well distributed ... The Alpe d'Huez at the end is a spicy dessert.
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