Tour de France 2021 – Stage 11 (Marmotte)

Marmotte or Bust

Yes, I did use that title before. Thank you for so closely following / reading my blog 😂

However, at the time I spoke about my plans to do two of them, Sestriere (La Marmotta) and the classic Marmotte Granfondo Alpes during that Tour de France of 2017.

Both were a bust, whereas I didn’t even start the classic, due to the (general) weather conditions and had a flat with no spare tube(s) during the La Marmotta.

This year, being located at an even better spot to start it, I finally did ride Marmotte Granfondo Alpes, but with a twist…

As the route of the Marmotte Granfondo Alpes passes Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, I decided to start at my doorstep.

This means I cycled to Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne and first tackled the Télégraphe – Galibier.

As my back (pain) was already manifesting itself on the (near) flat towards that combo, I wasn’t very hopeful today would be the day.

But I “conservatively” cycled up the Télégraphe, meaning using at least a gear smaller than I could, often even two and I only accelerated a bit in the last 3 kms.

tdf2021-mrmotte-pantaniAfter the picture and putting on a wind jacket for the descend into Valloire and the traverse towards the other end of the valley, I started the bulk of the Galibier.

Using the same “tactic”, but now putting in a short break every once in a while and (obviously and imho obligatory) picture break at the Pantani monument, I got up that fairly well too.

The last loop is a killing stretch under any condition, though. At least for me 😎

I changed my outfit and the long downhill over the Lautaret to Le Clapier and then the straight towards Bourg-d’Oisans, went smoothly, changing into the smaller gears on the short uphill sections again.

I decided we should have a longer break in Bourg-d’Oisans, but as it was lunchtime, that turned out to be a first world problem drama.

We first sat down, waited for ten minutes, then approached the waitress ourselves and ordered two cappuccino and a piece of cake (for me).

Twenty minutes later, having seen guest being served their deserts ordered after we placed ours and while we still had nothing, we left.

The second place looked a bit more quiet, but this time, the waitress brought two (French = one small sip) coffees instead of cappuccinos, which I both drank and got Paula her cappuccino, but she also forgot the blueberry pie with a vanilla ice cream scoop.

And then brought two portions 🤦‍♂️ I ate both scoops of ice cream and one slice of pie and we took the other slice with us.

Anyway, instead of a 30 minute break, this had now turned into a 90 minute break and the temperature didn’t get any lower during those.

tdf2021-marmotte-alpe-finishSo, I once again started my (tenth 🎉🥳) ascend of the Alpe d’Huez under a blistering sun and at 36 degrees Celsius.

Looking for and riding through what little shade I could find, pausing a few times in a shady corner, I got up the Alpe in just under 90 minutes.

But I was unable to stand straight by now and we had a break at the nice “winners corner”, where I ate some of the stuff Paula had prepared.

We then went down via Villard-Reculas, the intermediate “Pass de la Confession” being a considerable challenge, which didn’t increase my confidence for the upcoming Glandon…

That climb – or most of the Croix de Fer – is literally one of biggest average mysteries to me.

I know it’s mathematically sound, altimeter gain divided by distance, but the Edge seems to be stuck on 9% to 11% everywhere.

Well, except for the passage through Le Revier d’Allemont and the downhills, obviously.

At any rate, the last 10 kms of this climb where among the longest tortures I’ve been through on my bike 1

Because of the fatigue, I was (even) more careful than normal on the tricky upper half of the Glandon descend and in Saint-E!tienne-de-Cuines, I turned right for the more quiet road through Sainte-Marie-de-Cuines on to Pontemafrey, where I had to get onto the D1006.

Needless to say, I was happy to fall off my bike in front of our apartment, but I was – and I am – also amazed by my effort.

Total for my Marmotte: 184.4 kms and 5,350 m of elevation. That’s a little more than the official route, but that’s because of the additional Alpe d’Huez descend.

Which most participants will probably also (have to) do…

Link to Garmin.

And a 30-minute adrenaline rush video of the Glandon downhill:

1 Little did I know what I would do to myself the next day…

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