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The Trophée d’Oisans is a sequence of 4 alpine cyclosportives which take place over a week in July in the Bourg d’Oisans area. The first, hardest, and most prestigious, is the Marmotte, which gives 5000m of climbing and 174km of distance. The last, almost equally hard, is the Vaujany. In between are two shorter events.

Tracey decided that her competitive racing this year would be limited to the Trophée.

Thurs: Fly to Lyon, collect hire car and drive to La Grave, where we stay at the pleasant Chalets de la Meije. Decide that this is the right place when we see photos on the wall of the US Postal team, who had stayed there a few months previously.

Fri: Colin rides to La Bérarde and back while Tracey sorts out her bike and frets over the weather forecast.

Sat: La Marmotte. A wet day. By the time Tracey has climbed to the Croix de Fer the rain is falling in buckets. There are two streams of cyclists on the road: hopeful competitors riding upwards and despondent abandons heading back for warmth and dry clothes.

The first arrivals at the Galibier encounter snow. Of the 5000 entrants only 2000 riders finish.

The first woman is Christine Müller-Seiller from Alsace in less than 7 hrs 20'. (The first man, Bert Dekker, for comparison takes 6 hrs 39' – a slow time because of the conditions.) The Dutch Laura Verhoeven is second woman 25 minutes behind Christine. Her compatriot Karina Visscher is 3rd; Isabelle Equoy-Clemann from Paris is 4th; the Italian Raffaella Romani is 5th; and Tracey is 6th in just over 8 hours 30'.

The Dutch presence is astonishing: 19 of the 38 female finishers are from Holland. Colin on his little rides sees Dutch and Belgian riders everywhere.

Sun: La Grimpée de l’Alpe de Huez. Glorious sunshine. Isabelle is first woman and Tracey second.

Mon: Colin gets a lift to St Michel de Maurienne and rides back over the Télégraphe and the Galibier.

Tues: shopping expedition to Grenoble. Tracey frets about tomorrow’s weather forecast.

Weds: Le Prix des Rousses. Pouring rain. Serge Garnier crosses the line third moaning gelé. Again Isabelle is first woman and Tracey second.

Thurs: Colin drives to Briançon and does a double travese of the Izouard in warm sunshine. Tracey frets about Saturday’s weather forecast.

Fri: Colin climbs the Croix de Fer and Glandon from La Rochetaillée. Tracey, meanwhile, gives up on the Trophée and does a timed ascent of the Alpe d’Huez. She buys a timecard from the tourist office, stamps it in the machine at the bottom, and rides up like a woman possessed. She finds a tourist market milling about in the square obstructing her progress, and then finds that the machine at the top doesn’t work anyway.

Sat: Le Vaujany. The weather is cloudy but dry. Tracey enjoys the ride and again finishes second behind Isabelle.

Isabelle and Tracey are the only women to ride all 4 events, and Tracey is therefore last: a feat she also achieved a few years previously in a smaller field in the Six Jours de Haute Tarentaise. In fact this time she is 16th of the 26 competitors to complete the Trophée.

The loot is stupendous. Every finisher of every event gets a diploma. Tracey, for her podium placings, gets 2 food hampers, an additional 3 bottles of pleasant wine, a glass statuette of the Michelin man (whom she is increasingly coming to resemble), and more nicknacks than the house can hold.

Sun: back to England.

Online entry to the Trophée is via sportcommunication.com. The Grenoble cycle pages are a good place to look for information. The cyclists’ hotel Au Bon Acceuil is quietly situated and would be another suitable place to stay.

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