2024 UCI Granfondo Suisse: 3 new courses

June 6, 2024

The third edition of the UCI Granfondo Suisse will take place on Sunday 7 July in Villars-sur-Ollon. The big change this year is the route: instead of a single loop of medium difficulty, which left the strongest riders wanting more and represented too big a challenge for beginners, participants will be able to choose between 3 distances… and amounts of climbing, of course. So there will be something for everyone.

In doing so, the ambitious team at R&D Cycling, which has taken over the organisation of the UCI Gran Fondo Suisse, is also going much further in exploring and showcasing the area hosting the event: the Alpes vaudoises. I live there and even in my wildest dreams, I couldn’t imagine that a granfondo would one day take place on so many of my favourite roads…

Recently, I checked some parts of the courses with Alex Rey, project manager at R&D Cycling, and Nathalie Monnier, who manages the PSWCC community. It was a good opportunity to go back to my playground for the first time after the winter and take a few more shots I needed for this story.

So to give you a first taste, I am taking you on a virtual tour of the three courses. I’ll also be sharing advice on how to make the most of it on D-Day. Ready? Let’s go!

GRANFONDO

 

Finally, the UCI Granfondo Suisse deserves its name: with 148km and 3700m of climbing, this course is worthy of a granfondo like the Maratona dles Dolomites, the Etape du Tour or the Marmotte. And while the amount of climbing is significant, it is spread over no fewer than 6 ascents:

COL DE LA CROIX VIA VILLARS

As soon as you leave Villars, the road rises towards the Col de la Croix. Unless you have the crazy ambition of reaching the summit with the best, you should not burn too many matches on this 2-step climb. The race is still long.

COL DU PILLON

After a quick descent to Les Diablerets, the climb to le col du Pillon is a short one. Rather gentle at the start, the gradient steepens in the last two kilometres to hover around 10%. Here too, you’ll need to stay in your comfort zone to make it to the finish. To do this, stop looking at your stem and admire the imposing Diablerets Massif on the right with the spectacular Dar waterfall.

COL DU MITTELBERG

One descent and a long downhill stretch later, the famous Col du Mittelberg awaits you as you leave Saanen. An awfully steep stretch to avoid the main road will immediately put you back into “uphill” mode, and you’ll then have to manage uneven gradients to reach the pass. And of course, the steepest slopes are at the end. Your goal: to make sure you’re still fresh at the top, because there’s still almost 100km to go to the finish.

COL DES MOSSES VIA HONGRIN

By the time you reach the foot of this climb in Montbovon, you’ll have ridden almost 45km down to Broc and up the Haut-Intyamon valley. It’s time to hide in a group, refuel and take a breath. Above all, don’t get carried away on the many downhill and uphill false flat sections.

Because the hardest part is yet to come, starting with the long climb to the Col des Mosses on a beautiful bike route, which will take you first to the Hongrin dam. Once again, the gradient is uneven, and there are even a few flat sections, so you’ll need to keep a steady pace.

The next segment runs alongside the Lac de l’Hongrin, however it is anything but flat. There’s even a steep 1km section at nearly 10% before you reach La Lécherette. From there, there’s “only” the last two kilometres of the wide road to the Col des Mosses, which always seems endless when I ride them.

CLIMB TO LA FORCLAZ

La Forclaz? No, you won’t be heading towards Martigny to reach Chamonix via this well-known pass. Google (which tells less lies than ChatGPT) teaches us that the name comes from the Latin furcula (“little fork”) and refers to a passage which is initially quite wide and then narrows into a Y shape. There are many places called La Forclaz in France, in the Aosta Valley and in Switzerland, including a village in the Vallée des Ormonts.

That’s the one you’ll reach after a 5-kilometre climb from Le Sépey. The gradient is even, not too steep, and you won’t complain: by the time you reach the top, you’ll already have over 130km and almost 3000m of D+ in your legs…

COL DE LA CROIX VIA LES DIABLERETS

To get back to Villars, there’s no choice but to tackle the Col de la Croix a second time, this time from Les Diablerets. Rounding the figures slightly, the climb is 7 kilometres at 7%: that’s what I tell myself every time I struggle to the top before heading home after a long ride in the mountains.

I hope you’ll have more gas left in the tank than me to reach the summit and celebrate your performance. And if you finish in the top quarter of your age category, you’ll also qualify for the 2024 UCI Granfondo World Championships (except for older participants, see below).

MEDIOFONDO

If the Granfondo isn’t up your street, you can aim for the Mediofondo: 95km and 2500m of climbing, it’s still a hell of a challenge on a course that uses most of the same roads as its big brother.

The start is identical: you’ll link up the Col de la Croix and the Col du Pillon. But in Saanen, you’ll continue towards the Pays d’Enhaut instead of climbing the Mittelberg.

COL DES MOSSES

Instead, a relatively flat section awaits you until you get to Château d’Oex, where you’ll tackle the Col des Mosses via the normal route, as mountaineers would say: an ascent in three steps via L’Etivaz and La Lécherette, where you’ll find yourself back on the Granfondo route.

Find a reasonable pace and don’t get into trouble, because the end is just as tough as the Granfondo with the climb to La Forclaz and the finish at the Col de la Croix.

This format is a qualifier for the UCI World Granfondo Championships in the men’s 60+ and women’s 50+ categories.

RANDO

The third format is an ideal introduction if you want to tackle your first alpine sportive… or if you just want to enjoy a nice ride with friends without the pressure of a timed race. Over 56km and 1900m of climbing, you’ll be heading for Les Diablerets via the Col de la Croix like everyone else.

CLIMB TO LES VOËTTES

Once there, you will turn left and quickly take a small road towards Les Voëttes. This is one of my favourite spots, where I can get to the Col des Mosses away from the traffic. Yes, there are a few steep sections, but it’s well worth the effort and the views are breathtaking. As there are no rankings for this format, make sure you stop to take some photos!

Once you reach the Col des Mosses, you’ll turn back in the opposite direction, the one used by the Granfondo and the Mediofondo. And you’ll finish with the climb to La Forclaz and the final ascent to the Col de la Croix.

If all this has convinced you to take on one of these courses, visit the UCI Granfondo Suisse website to find out more and register. On Friday 5 July, you can also take part in a time trial between Villars and the Col de la Croix. And if you’re looking for something to do on Saturday, the UCI Gravel Suisse is just waiting for you!

See you soon in the Alpes vaudoises,

Alain

PSWCC is a community of cyclists in French-speaking Switzerland whose aim is to put the spotlight on women’s cycling. If you too would like to support this initiative, join the community and benefit from exclusive advantages such as a discount on your registration for the UCI Granfondo Suisse.

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