The Cols of Marmotte Granfondo Pyrénées Sportive
The Marmotte Granfondo Pyrénées sportive is a new event to the amateur circuit. Started in 2016 the sportive is growing in popularity as it offers cyclists a unique climbing challenge in the French Pyrénées Mountain Range. It is from the same organisers as Marmotte Granfondo Alps and is considered a sister event.
Marmotte Pyrénées sportive features the following cols:
- Col du Tourmalet from Luz St Sauveur : 2115 metres, 18km, 7.4% average, 10.2% max
- La Hourquette d'Ancizan : 1564 metres 22km, 4% average, 12% max
- Col d'Aspin: 1489 metres, 12km, 6.5% average, 9.5% max
- Col du Tourmalet from Ste Marie de Campan : 2115 metres, 17km, 7.4% average, 10% max
- Hautacam - col de Tramassel: 1635 metres, 13km, 8% average, 11% max
Given its French Spanish border location they’re used in the Vuelta and Tour de France races. Let’s take a closer look at them.
Col du Tourmalet is the highest paved road in the Pyrénées and it is the most used climb in the Tour de France. Last year, it was used in the great race for the 86th time. It has been used as a summit finish in 1974 and 2010, and La Mongie, a small village not far from the summit has been used as a stage finish 3 times. The Vuelta has also included this hors category col in some editions.
The col is ridden twice in Marrotte Pyrénées. At the start you approach it from Luz St Sauveur, and later from Ste Marie de Campan. When you climb this col you’ll know that many greats of the sport have ridden the col too. This gives you a feeling of becoming part of cycling history.
La Hourquette d'Ancizan is a category 1 climb and has been used in the Tour de France 3 times. It will also feature in the 2019 edition of le tour! Approaching from the East, the climb has a few intense sections where gradients hit 12% but keep going as the gradients ease off a little after that.
Although it is not as widely used in the big tournaments it is still offers plenty of challenge and spectacular views.
In the Marmotte Pyrénées sportive col d’Aspin is approached from the east and starts out quite gentle with 4% gradients. The further you ascend, however, and the tougher it gets with gradients hitting 8 and 9% respectively. The climb is worth undertaking as the views from the summit are stunning.
The col has been used in the Tour de France over 70 times and was first used in 1910. It is normally used in conjunction with Tourmalet as they are very close together. Over the last ten years, however, the organisers have opted for La Hourquette d’Ancizan which is considered a little more difficult. Nonetheless, Aspin remains a great challenging ride.
The col has also featured in the Vuelta race.
Col de Tramassel gives you the hardest gradients at the beginning which is followed by a softening of the harsh inclines. Towards the end the gradients bite again hitting 8 and 9% respectively. The col is considered a hard ride by the pros. The roads undulating nature makes it difficult to maintain a natural rhythm. As it is the last ascent of the sportive this can be a test. Keep going, however, as the finish line will be in sight!
The col has not been utilised by organisers of the big races. It has only appeared five times in the Tour de France. In 2014 it was a stage finish and Albert Contador commented that the col is “really hard, and especially because it is the last mountain stage of the 2014 Tour.”
Riding Marmotte Pyrénées Sportive
Although new the sportive is one you should attempt once in your cycling career. Challenge, the pro event feel, and spectacular views combine to make the sportive one of the best you can ride. Perhaps the feeling you are adding to cycling’s rich history by riding the roads ridden by legends is the best reason to ride it of all.
- Event Date: Last Sunday in August
- 1st Edition: 2016
- Discover Marmotte Granfondo Pyrénées here.
- Download the brochure here.
Source: Cycling Cols