It's almost time: the big two are coming! Next Sunday will finally be the time for the 41 edition of La Marmotte and the 35 edition of the Maratona dles Dolomites. CycloWorld previews.
In 1982, the Marmotte saw the light of day. If you want to get an idea of what the race looked like at the time, check out this nostalgic video from 1988. Heavy gears, steel bikes, loose fitting cycling outfits and of course no helmet. The contrast with how things are now could hardly be greater.
The race was most often won by a Frenchman, no less than 13 times. Nine times a Dutchman won and 6 times a Belgian crossed the finish line first.
In all those years, the course has changed several times. Before 2006 the riders went over the Croix de Fèr, and then over the Glandon. In 2015, a last-minute decision was made to change that route. The reason was that the Tunnel du Chambon (on the descent of the Col du Lautaret) had partially collapsed. The tunnel had to be closed. Later, an emergency road was built, but it was not ready in time. The 2015 route went over the Glandon, then up the Lacets de Montvernier. The way back was via the Col du Mollard and the east side of the Croix de Fèr. The length and the number of altimeters were almost the same as the original route: 170 km with 5100 meters of climbing.
Last year's edition went down in the books as the most controversial ever. Swiss Raphael Addy won, but magically disappeared like a thief in the night after the finish when he heard he had to go to the doping control. He later explained that he had stomach problems, but that was a story only few people believed. Recently, the Swiss Cycling Federation decided to suspend him for 2 years. However, the French doping authority has still not made a judgement and the organization of La Marmotte has let it be known that they are waiting for this. For the time being Addy remains the winner, although it seems unlikely that this will remain so. The number 2 was the Dutchman Kenny Nijssen. In the ladies' race the also Dutch Martha Maltha won.
New in 2021 was the ultra fondo. Around 200 participants took up the challenge and completed the extra long sportive-with-mass start, which is on the program again this year. The participants will have to challenge Alpe d'Huez 2x. The numbers? 235 km / 6500m+.
A number of top riders will be at the start again this year. Olivier Godfroid (BE) and Loïc Ruffaut (FR) are the big favorites. Godfroid won Mallorca 312 and GF Mont Ventoux this year. Ruffaut was (amongst others) victorious in the Vosges GF. Tim Alleman (BE) could also be the winner. He recently won GFNY La Vaujany. Course record holder Michiel Minnaert will also be at the start. His fitness is uncertain as he has had some health problems recently but has already taken the podium in some smaller GF events. There will also be a few outsiders: Arne Bauters (BE), Sieben Devalckeneer (BE),Ed Laverack (GB), Job Sueters (BE) and Julien Bérard (FR).
*Update 2-7*. Stefan Kirchmair (AUT) has also settled in Bourg d'Oisans. He's definetely a favorites given his win today in the climbing time trial that is traditionally held the day before La Marmotte.
For the ladies, the race is a lot harder to predict. There is no list of participants. However, at the Marmotte, it is often a lesser known rider who takes the first prize. Linda Stuurman (NL) will definitely be competing for the win. She is back after a difficult period and seems stronger than ever. However, the best-known cyclists seem to be opting for the Maratona this year.
Meteo France predicts old-fashioned "Marmotte weather" next Sunday. A typical French baking oven with temperatures of 30 degrees in the valley. Especially for the +/- 7000 cyclists who will participate, it will be a huge battle on Alpe d'Huez.
The Maratona saw the light of day in 1987. Since the edition of 2020 was cancelled due to corona, this year the event will be held for the 35th time. A lustrum! If you want to know more about the history, read our interview with one of the creators.
What not many people know is that the Maratona has changed course many times over the years. In 1998 the current course was chosen definitively, although in 2014 the Mur del Giat was added. All old courses can be found here.
Last year's edition was a very fast one. The first 7 riders rode under the course record. Italian Fabio Cini took the win in the men's race. Best rider from the Low Countries was Tim Alleman (BE), who finished in 5th place. Important detail: the original number 2 Vincenzo Pisani was later found doping at an out of competition check and removed from the results. Martha Maltha (NL) won by a wide margin in the women's race.
Many eyes will be on Tomasso Elettrico (IT). He finished 3rd last year and won once before. Defending champion Fabio Cini (IT) will also be at the start, although it is unclear what he can do after a recent crash. Frederic Glorieux is Belgium's trump card this year. He won the Alpen Challenge this year (after numerous podium finishes in other gran fondo events) and is in good shape. The same goes for his compatriot, former pro Jurgen van Goolen. He and his teammate Job Sueters recently won the TOUR Transalp in the Team Masters category. Patrick Hagenaars (OOS) is an outsider. He recently finished 3rd in the Dreiländergiro.
On the women's side, the favorite is the defending champion Martha Maltha (NL). She has already won several races this year, including the GF Vosges (by a wide margin). However, we should not forget Martina Trevisiol (IT). She came 2nd last year, well ahead of Martha, partly due to bad luck. She went on to win the GF Stelvio Santini, Gran fondo Top Dolomites, the UCI GF Villars and the Gran fondo Colnago, among others.
Annalisa Prato (IT) is also a contender. She won this year's Gran fondo Gimondi (where Trevisol came 2nd) and the Sportful Dolomiti Race. Slovenia's Laura Simenc could also be the winner. She has already ridden many Italian gran fondos and has a history with a Slovenian pro team. This year she won Nove Colli and came 2nd in the Sportful. Also she won the Maraton Franja.
Who certainly won't win this year is German multi-winner Christina Rausch. She is recovering from a crash.
It has been a tradition since the 1990 edition: all starters receive a jersey. In recent years there has been a version for women and one for men. For 2022 the shirt looks like this. Particularly successful if you ask us!
Curious to see the shirt from previous years? Check out here!
As in the French Alps, the Dolomites are good weather predicted. Lots of sun and not a cloud in the sky. It could hardly be better.
Curious to know how the Marmotte and the Maratona will progress? CycloWorld will be keeping a liveblog on Sunday. Stay tuned.