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04-06-2024 | Jean-Marie Henckaerts

The gran fondo of the laughing cow

It's really true, it exists: Cyclosportive La Vache Qui Rit. Those who do not know it are missing something because it is a super cool gran fondo. Well organized and therefore not surprising that there were more than 4000 participants at the start this year. The riders had a choice of three distances: 80 km / 1000m+, 114 km / 1700m+, and finally the gran fondo of 153 km with 2600m+. There was also a gravel event the day before the gran fondo. I rode the gran fondo myself, and in this report, you will read whether I was able to laugh afterward like the cow on the rather - let's say - 'unusual' shirt.

Cyclosportive La Vache Qui Rit

Up and down

The course is undulating - the gran fondo contains 12 hills. The climbs are much shorter than traditional Alpine cliffs, and usually, the gradient average stays below 10% as well. This makes this gran fondo a good season opener. The roads were quiet, and there were marshals at all the dangerous points. There were also plenty of motards accompanying groups.

The main sponsor is, of course, the well-known brand of cheese spread that gave its name to the event. The goodie bag contained, how could it be otherwise, all kinds of goodies from the famous cheese brand. The pasta after the gran fondo was also one of the tastiest I have ever eaten. The village before and after the start was perfect and tightly organized.

As for myself, my main goal was to finish this gran fondo. It was my first gran fondo this year, and 153 km with 2600 meters of elevation are not nothing. Along the way, there were three feed stations. I skipped the first one, after only 37 km, because I still had enough supplies. At the second feed station, after 67 km, almost everyone stopped. After that, it was again the art of finding a good group, which worked out well.

Those damn cramps

I have never finished the stops so quickly. This was also because I had taken enough gels and bars with me and only had to refill with water. Between the second and third feed stations, my water bottles did get empty. That's really the only remark I can make: the distance between the second (after 67 km) and third feed stations (after 127 km) is too long. Because I often had to deal with cramps last year, I invariably try to drink enough now. That almost seemed to work, but at 4 km from the finish they showed up and I had to let my group go. Groups behind me also passed me, frustrating!

Cyclosportive La Vache Qui Rit

But I knew I had to stay calm. I just waited, walked 100 meters, and then I was able to continue. All in all, I think I lost five minutes. At my level, that's not important. My goal was to finish the gran fondo and it worked out really well.

The winner in the men’s race was decided in a sprint of three, after 4 hours and 7 minutes with an average speed of 37 km/h. Maxence Janodet (FR) won that sprint. For the ladies, Marie Brozzoni, also French, arrived first alone after 4 hours and 38 minutes with an average speed of 33 km/h.

It was a very nice experience in the Jura. I recommend La Vache Qui Rit as a good season opener. This gran fondo is excellently organized and, in my opinion, has the ideal size in terms of participant numbers.

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