The French Alps and its ‘cols’ are well known by all cycling enthusiasts. Many of these passes rise above 2.000 m and just a few above the 2.500 m, such as la Bonette or le Galibier. This is the case if you stick to road cycling but, what would happen if you rode a gravel bike? The answer is quite straightforward; the number of possibilities increases exponentially. With this idea in mind, Nicolas Roux envisioned a new gravel adventure following the concept behind the road race ‘Le Tour du Mont Blanc Cyclo’ and the ultra-trail race ‘UTMB’ but, this time, on gravel bikes through trails, singletracks, and forgotten roads. With this, on the first weekend of September 2022, the inaugural edition of Le Gravel Tour du Mont Blanc (GTMB) will take place in Megève (France), offering its participants an extraordinary opportunity to discover the surroundings of the white mountain and put themselves through a very tough ride.
The organizers designed the course around the idea of making it ‘one of the hardest routes in the world with a distance of 200 km’. Throughout this distance, the riders will have to climb eight spectacular passes, with two ascents above 2.500 m at le Col de la Seigne and le Grand Col Ferret, adding up to a total elevation gain of 8.500 m.
The route will alternate between country roads and gravel paths, including singletracks, forest trails, and hike-a-bike sections in an everchanging environment passing through three countries: France, Italy, and Switzerland. They will ride through the rooftops of Europe, between glaciers, creeks, valleys, and alpine mountains offering the opportunity to challenge themselves in a unique, fragile, and demanding territory of breathtaking landscapes.
In addition, being in high-mountain conditions means that temperature and weather can definitely play a huge role during the race, as it may drastically change from one minute to the other, from dense mist to blazing sun. Therefore, not only will a solid physical shape be essential, but also an excellent technical skillset as the riders will ride through mountain paths most of the time, and good technical equipment.
The main race is designed to be a solo ride loop from Megève in which you will have no assistance during the 200 km and 8.500 m of elevation gain. The start will be on Saturday 3rd early in the morning before sunrise and the participants will have time till Sunday 4th at noon. To make the race more popular, there is also the option to ride in pairs.
Moreover, for those who want to participate but do not feel strong enough, there is the chance to take a slightly shorter parcours of around 100 km that will start from Courmayeur and finish in Megève. Even though it will be shorter, it does not mean it will be easy as the participants of the Half-GTMB will have to climb a total of 5.000 m. Furthermore, during this weekend dedicated to gravel, a 70 km and 2.700 m non-competitive ride, the Gravel Tour du Mont Joly, will take place on Sunday morning from Megève.
The overall organization of the event will be in the hands of Wish One, a French brand that will also take care of the first round of the UCI Gravel World Series in France in 2022. Thus, they will certainly put together a great weekend of rough gravel racing in an unforgettable environment of pure nature and wild landscapes. Registration starts on January 1st, 2022.