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02-09-2021 | Frank Jansen

Preview La Marmotte 2021

The Ötztaler Radmarathon is not the only major gran fondo that's organized for the 40th time this year. This also applies to La Marmotte. Next Saturday, it's the day: edition 40 of the mother of all gran fondos. What can you expect? CycloWorld has an exclusive preview.


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, baggy cycling outfits and, of course, hardly helmets. The contrast with how things are now could hardly be greater.

The race was won most often 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 these years, the course has changed several times. Before 2006 the riders went over the Croix de Fer, and then over the Glandon. In 2015, a last-minute decision was made to change the 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 would be 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 elevation were almost the same as the original route: 170 km with 5100m+.

Initially, this year's edition was scheduled for June 27, but the organization had to postpone it due to corona. Next Saturday, on September 4, it will happen. There will be about 3000 participants at the start. Nice to know is that La Marmotte is the only GF of the "big three" (next to the Dolomites Marathon and Ötztaler Radmarathon) that was never cancelled due to the corona pandemic. Also last year a Marmotte took place "just", although that edition was also moved to early September. Read the report of our reader Marc Goossens.

The course

For a long time there was uncertainty about the course. The organization initially wanted this anniversary edition to go over the Croix de Fer, just like in the past. Unfortunately, one of the municipalities did not want to cooperate and the plan had to be cancelled. La Marmotte will therefore 'just' go over the Glandon, just like the past few years. This year there is a small change, the finish will be at the Parking des Bergers and not at the Palais des Sports, which is being renovated. But the basic route remains the same: Glandon - Télégraphe - Galibier - Alpe d'Huez.

Another new feature is that an ultra fondo will be organized this year. Actually this is not a fondo but a sportive, because there is no time measurement and classification (but there is a mass start). But that doesn't make it less special. The 200 participants go over the Alpe d'Huez twice. The first time they ride to the Col de Sarenne and then climb the Alp again. A copy of the finish of the 18th Tour stage of 2013. The numbers? 235 km / 6500m+.

Find all official routes (old an new) in our collection on Komoot.


The forecast for Saturday has luckily improved significantly in the past 24 hours. 24 degrees are predicted in the valley, with sun and some clouds. It doesn't get much better. Of course, it's quite possible that this changes. We will keep you updated.

Contenders in the men's race

As usual, a number of strong competitive riders will be at the start. We mention a few.

  • Michiel Minnaert (BE). 2-time winner, defending champion and course record holder (5h30). Recently became a father and brought his daughter along as a spectator. Won the time trail on l'Alpe d'Huez on 2-9 and finished 4th in the GFNY Alpes Vaujany last week. Podium should be possible.
  • Frederic Glorieux (BE). The most constant factor this gran fondo season. Scored numerous top-10 finishes and a few podiums. If everything goes his way, he could win.
  • Kenny Nijssen (NL). Won in 2016. The man in shape. Will go for the win in his own words. Won GFNY Alpes Vaujany last Sunday and looks like he'll be back after a somewhat quieter season.
  • Tim Alleman (BE). Disappointed at the Ötztaler (by his own admission) - he's unsure about his form. A good Alleman could win here, though.
  • Raphael Addy (SWI). Ex-Conti rider from Switzerland. Big winner.
  • Sieben Devalckeneer (BE). Finished 2nd in the Velomediane last Saturday. The big question will be how he fares in the longer climbs.
  • Pippo Garnero (BRA). Won La Marmotte in 2019 and has temporarily settled in Europe for, among other things, the Haute Route Alpes, which he won. Along with Nijssen, top favorite.
  • Julien Bérard (FR). Not the former AG2R pro, but a very talented rider either way. Scored numerous podium finishes this season.

Ladies' contenders

In the women's race, the big favorite is Martha Maltha. The Dutchie won the Dolomites Marathon earlier this season.  Laurianne Placais (FRA) could also do well. The French rider from the region came in 2nd in 2018 and also rode well in the Marmotte Pyrenees. However, it is not entirely certain whether she will start, as she recently became a mother. However, her Strava suggests that she is in good shape. We'll have to wait and see. It is also certain that a number of favorites will not be at the start. Ils van der Moeren, Eva Lindskog and Christina Rausch for example. Carla Mellema will also miss out on the Marmotte this year. Cycloworld follower Linda Stuurman will be at the start. As always, she will be aiming for a win, at least in her own category.

Time limits

As always, silver or gold diplomas can be obtained. Officially there is nothing on the website of Cycling Classics France about this yet, but since the course is more or less unchanged, it seems logical that the old limits will remain valid.

Following the race live

Unfortunately, there is no livestream as there is for the Ötztaler. You can follow the race times via the site of Cycling Classics France. Our own Frank Minnaert will keep us updated on the situation during the race.

Best of luck to all participants and bon voyage!

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