Cyclosportive (Gran Fondo) events in the French Alps
High on many bucket list is to ride one of the classic cyclosportives (Gran Fondo) in the French Alps such as La Marmotte or Etape du Tour, however there is much more to choose from
During the Spring and early Summer the French Alps are home to many challenging Gran Fondo Cyclosportive events, and once the August holidays are over, events continue through September and into early October.
Many cyclists looking to ride in the French Alps have heard of La Marmotte, Etape du Tour and possibly the Time Megeve Mont-Blanc however there are many more to choose from.
Many of these events can be combined into a weekend or week of cycling with us at BreatheBike. If a particular event is of interest to you please email us with details and group numbers and we can put a proposal to you.
Most cycling events in the French Alps have a choice of 2 or 3 distances with varying degrees of difficulty and metres climbed.
We tend to kick off our cyclosportive season in April with the Bisous event which is just over an hour from our Chamonix Mont Blanc base. The events is on the edge of the Jura Alps where the climbs are a little more forgiving especially so early in the season.
Our focus then turns to Mid May when the 3 Cols event takes place unusually on a Thursday, however being Ascension day, its a bank holiday in France. As the name suggest, it covers 3 Cols (!) and again the climbs are shorter than the true iconic Alpine climbs of the French Alps.
Towards the end of May we have the lap of Lake Geneva (Lac Leman cyclotour). This is a long event of 180KM however its pretty much pancake flat. There is an option to get the ferry half way across the lake for a shorter event. The long event can be fast with the quickest riders coming in around 4 hours 10 minutes.
We then turn our attention to the French Alps proper with many events in the French Alps in quick succession.
The Time Megeve Mont-Blanc usually on the first Sunday in June is becoming a key choice for riders entering La Marmotte or the Etape du Tour later in the Summer. The route varies each year however with a choice of 3 distances, the route takes in a selection of epic Alpine climbs many being Tour de France regulars including the Aravis, Colombiere, Saisies, Col du Pres and featuring in the 2016 Tour de France, the Bisanne. Being a little over an hour from Geneva this is an excellent cyclosportive in the French Alps to acclimatise you to the terain and its possible in a very short 1 or 2 night visit due to the proximity of BreatheBike to Geneva Airport.
The town of Bonneville is next on our agenda, around 30 minutes from our Chamonix Mont-Blanc base. The Faucigny Glieres event takes in a lap (or two for the longer event) of La Mole before climbing the extremely difficult final slog up Col de Solaison finishing at the cross country skiing plateau.
Morzine the following weekend will be a great event for anyone riding the 2016 Etape du Tour as the final climb is the mighty Joux Plane. Scene of Landis' magical ride and subsequent downfall in the 2005 Tour de France, the Col is to be used in the 2016 Tour de France for the first time since that fateful day.
Due to our proximity to both Switzerland and Italy we have a great choice of cyclosportives and Gran Fondos in 3 Countries.
A short drive from Chamonix through the Mont Blanc tunnel takes us to Courmayeur and the start of the Gran Fondo Monte Bianco which takes in some amasing climbs in the Italian Aosta Valley finishing with the punishing Colle San Carlos, which is pretty much 10% for 10km.
Back in France next on our list the the Grand Bo centred on Les Grand Bornand. There are 3 distances here, the longest finishing with the Romme, used for the first time in the 2009 Tour de France where many of the riders said it was the toughest climb of the race. The Romme drops you off half way up the Col de la Colombiere for the final climb before descending back into Les Grand Bornand.
The first weekend in July sees the mighty La Marmotte finishing at the summit of Alpe D'Huez. Everyone keen cyclosportive rider should take on La Marmotte at least once in their riding career. Its likely the toughest Cyclosportive in the French Alps, if not the World.
In 2016 we have the Etape du Tour in the Alps from Megeve to Morzine. The Etape takes place on the 10th July and takes in the Cols Aravis, Colombiere, ramaz and Joux Plane on its 146km 4000M plus route between the two ski stations.
If the Etape is not for you in 2016, then why not try the Thorens - Glieres event which takes you over the summit of the Saleve before finishing on the final climb to Plateau du Glieres.
Events quietten down through August due to the volume of traffic in the peak French holiday season however we kick off again in September which events in nearby Oyonnax and Annecy.
If you are interested in any of the cyclosportives in the French Alps Mont Blanc region please feel free to drop us a line email us and we wil be pleased to discuss and help with your trip planning.
The 2015 Time Megeve (short course)