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TOP 5: Overseas Sportives

by Nick Gregory

La Marmotte (France) 

The Marmotte is the Mother of all cyclosportives. One mention of the "M" word is enough to set pulses racing, to strike fear into the hearts of the most hardened sportive riders. The statistics speak for themselves: 175 km, 5000m climbing, 4 major climbs. And a grandstand finish at the top of cycling's most famous mountain: Alpe d'Huez. It's an epic challenge which feeds the imagination and provides the motivation to get out there and put the miles in on a sleety February club run. 

Widely considered to be the toughest one-day Sportive in the world, for many it is an event that needs to be ridden, at least once, just to tick it off the list and be able to say you've tackled the ultimate challenge. The list of climbs on the Marmotte reads like an all-star Alpine line up of pain: the Col du Glandon, Col du Télégraphe, Col du Galibier and Alpe d'Huez. 

Cyclosport's Jon Cook is a veteran of numerous Marmottes: "Alpe d'Huez is a hard climb, let alone when you tackle it with 100 miles already in your legs and blisteringly hot conditions overhead. The first five of six ramps are really steep and my knees really began to ache and sweat poured off me. At this point I just wanted to finish and I was so tired that I couldn't even work out the time of day." 

"Expertly organised, with great feed stops and masses of supporters cheering you on, the Marmotte has a truly unique and special atmosphere. Whatever happens on the day, take your time, relax and enjoy it. It really is one of the most satisfying and rewarding rides you'll ever do." 


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