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GranFondo La Marmotte

If the one-day cyclo La Marmotte would be included in its entirety in the Tour de France schedule, riders and followers would most likely call the stage as the queen ride. And rightly so, because just go on: a trip through the French Alps of about 175 kilometers over 4 cols of which 3 of the outdoor category and over 5000 bridging altitude meters.

Sometimes there are also professionals, such as Laurent Brochard and Laurens ten Dam, who won the Marmotte in 1992 and 2003. The fastest in the last years after about 5.5 hours. The last finishers usually take an hour or nine longer.

The first race that the riders encounter after leaving 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 beech trees that grow on the flanks. These are classified in French among the glands (acorns).

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

It was on this long, irregular climb of 24 kilometers that the great Eddy Merckx experienced one of the toughest days of his career, in fact the end of the super champion. After being defeated by Bernard Thévenet two years earlier in the Tour de France and having missed the 1976 edition, Merckx had traveled to France for his sixth victory in 1977 . But Merckx got a diarrhea after a food poisoning and in a heavy mountain stage broke it up. Cleverly climbed Merckx de Col de Madeleine. He was unloaded twelve kilometers below the summit. On character, the Belgian joined the leading group again in the descent, but on the Glandon the spectators saw Merckx really suffer. At the place where cyclists have a good view of the Mont Blanc, the Cannibal had to surrender regularly. The veterinary surgeon estimated his condition as very critical and left an ambulance behind the driver for the rest of the stage. Merckx could not eat anything all day and lost the Tour, yet he found the strength to hardly lose time 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, on his way to his victory at Alpe d'Huez and the win in the mountain classification.
Col du Telegraphe

The next col owes its name to the signaling installation that was laid out for military purposes next to the fortress from Napoleon's time: 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 hardest mountain of the Marmotte, but according to Joop Zoetemelk 'the Télégraphe does not run, you switch an accident' and Hennie Kuiper remarked that 'the road only runs a little bit flat when you reach the deciduous trees.' Yet many riders also call it a beautiful, even climb, wooded and, as usual in the Alps, with many hairpin bends. De Télégraphe is deceitful at the end, because if riders suspect that they are almost upstairs, the mountain wall turns out to continue.

In the descent (5 km) to Valloire the legs get a bit of rest, and also the straight piece of flat flat (6 km) to Plan Lachat is pleasant because of the view over the basin of the rivers that flow into the Valloirette. When the road turns to the right, the serious climb starts, which Gert-Jan Theunisse loved so much. 'Mountains in the Alps like the Galibier were just good for me. I thought it was great if you came above 2000 meters, then there were few other riders. In the Alps, the Galibier is the most beautiful mountain, the real climbing. ' Theunisse came first in 1989 (just like Joop Zoetemelk in 1972). De Brabander was furious with his PDM teammates who did not want to ride for him. His anger resulted in a solo of 130 kilometers, the victory at Alpe d'Huez and the final conquest of the polka dot jersey.

Thin air

Theunisse did well against the thin air and on the Galibier that is a big advantage, because soon after Plan Lachat the riders reach above 2000 meters. After 27 kilometers of climbing (from the foot of the Télégraphe), the heaviest moments come with a series of debilitating hairpin bends. Yet there is already a view of the summit, at the end of a rugged and desolate rocky landscape where even in July there is still a lot of snow. The climb is leveling off and remains stable, about 9 percent, but many riders here ride with trembling legs and gasp through the oxygen debt as a sheepdog in a closed car in the blazing sun. A consolation for the riders: Tour winner also called it 'a sloshing that I have never overcame.'  

In the long descent of the Galibier and the Col du Lautaret (2058 meters) there is a chance to recover somewhat before the last race of the day, Alpe d'Huez. Normally, the Dutch mountain is already a pothole, but after 160 kilometers about 3 cols completely. But those who have already come this far can also take the last 21 turns, right?

Ravitallation points
Where can you eat well during the Marmotte?

  • After the Barrage du Verney - flat after you have climbed the barrage
  • Le Rivier d'Allemont - village where the road is slightly flatter
  • After the first descent and steep ascent - you can quickly use a gel / bar before you start climbing again
  • After the Barrage du Lac the Grand Maison - again a fairly flat stretch where you can gain energy for the climb to the Glandon
  • A few kilometers before the summit - there is another 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 later
In this part of the Marmotte it becomes extra important to keep eating and drinking well because you start to get tired. The moments where you can eat become scarce due to the steepness of the road, villages, tunnels and wind ....
  • During the ascent of the Telegraph and on top of the Col
  • The Galibier remains a difficult mountain. Take every chance you have to eat ....
Descent of the Galibier .... Until Bourg d'Oisan you have a large part of the valley 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 tour for the experienced cyclist. Beautiful views, substantial altimeters and above all a mental challenge ensure that the Marmotte is not for everyone. Make sure your energy level is well distributed ... The Alpe d'Huez at the end is a spicy dessert.
Indien op voorraad: Voor 17u besteld zelfde werkdag verstuurd
30 dagen retour recht
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