We are showing you the Norwegian version of our site: would you prefer a different location?
by Guy Andrews
The next step is to look at the course and see what’s exactly in store. Purposely I hadn’t thought about it to date. The Marmotte has been on my cycling agenda for long enough and most sportive regulars say it’s the hardest out there.
What do I know about it? Well I’ve ridden the up the Glandon side of the Croix de Fer and Alpe d’Huez before, both formidable climbs but very different. The Glandon goes on and on and on. But the views across the mountains are stunning, if you can reach the bottom at a decent clip, the climb will be OK, it’s not steep and if you’re fresh enough you can get up it easy, it’s just long and it will sap a fair bit from the reserves. To say it really poses no real threat would be folly – if it’s raining, cold and windy and then it could be a purgatory, with open plains either side a head wind here is a distinct possibility and that will hurt.
The Telegraphe holds a certain mystique for any fan of the Tour de France, along with the Galibier it has that ability to conjure up Phil Liggett’s voice in my head… it’s so steeped in history I don’t know where to start, [but probably somewhere in the mid-eighties and Mr. Hinault]. Seeing as I’ve never been up either of them I can only imagine I’m sure that it will be helping to dump my sorry soul into the hurt box.
Alpe d’Huez is a monument [if not the monument] in cycling history. Graeme Fife wrote about it in the current issue of Rouleur and it is a stinker. A south facing climb that can, on a sunny day, burn the soles of your feet, and at the same time do some damage to your cycling soul too. Ask anyone who rode the Etape in 2006, they will tell you. That day the 21 hairpins provided a harsh battleground for ill prepared riders and many where overcome by the extreme temperatures of the mid afternoon. I’ve ridden it fresh too, in the early morning sun when the shadows are still cool and the legs are fresh, it didn’t seem so bad, I actually enjoyed it. It seems to be steepest at the bottom and the corners really help you focus on the task ahead. So the Alpe could be a col too far, but I am more afraid of the unknown… The Galibier. I haven’t ridden it but I know it is a beast.
And that’s it. 176kms and 5000 metres of climbing. It’ll be about six hours thirty for the winners… I reckon anything under ten hours is a good ride. I’ll be happy to finish. Then onto the Etape…
Guy Andrews is editor of Rouleur Magazine.