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Sometimes they also ride pros, such as Laurent Brochard and Laurens ten Dam, who won the Marmotte in 1992 and 2003. The fastest have arrived in the last few years after about 5.5 hours. The last finishers usually take about nine hours longer.
The first col the riders encounter 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 classified in French under the glands (acorns).
Hence Glandon. The mountain pass was already opened in 1898 and is only open from May to October, because it is impassable in the other months due to snowfall.
The next col owes its name to the signal installation that was installed 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 switch off an accident" and Hennie Kuiper noted that "the road only slightly flattens when you get above the deciduous trees." Yet many riders also call it a beautiful, even climb, wooded and, as usual in the Alps, with many hairpin bends. The Télégraphe is deceptive at the end, because if riders suspect that they are almost at the top, it appears that the mountain wall continues to run for a long time.
In the descent (5 km) to Valloire the legs get a little rest, and also the straight stretch of false flat (6 km) to Plan Lachat is pleasant because of the view over the basin of the rivers that end up in the Valloirette. As the road turns to the right, the serious climbing work that Gert-Jan Theunisse loved so much begins. 'Mountains in the Alps such as the Galibier just suited me well. I thought it was great if you were above 2000 meters, so few other riders could do it. In the Alps, the Galibier is the most beautiful mountain, the real climbing. " Theunisse was the first to emerge 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 over Alpe d'Huez and the final conquest of the polka dot jersey.
Theunisse was able to withstand the thin air and that is a big advantage on the Galibier, because soon after Plan Lachat the riders get above 2000 meters. After 27 kilometers of climbing (from the foot of the Télégraphe) the most difficult 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 sometimes a lot of snow still lies. The climb flattens somewhat and continues to rise steadily, around 9 percent, but many riders ride here with trembling legs and pant through the oxygen debt like a sheepdog in a closed car in the blazing sun. A consolation for the riders: Tour winner too called it "a mess thing I never got over well."
In the long descent of the Galibier and the Col du Lautaret (2058 meters) there is a chance to recover somewhat before the last col of the day, Alpe d'Huez. Normally the Dutch mountain is already a leg crusher, but after 160 kilometers over 3 cols altogether. But whoever has come that far can handle the last 21 turns, right?
Where can you eat well during the Marmotte?