The first of its kind in Morocco, the Marrakech Atlas Etape on 28th April has been gaining a lot of interest in the UK. The availability of inexpensive flights and low entry fee of only 60 Euros for the event many UK participants who want a challenge are being tempted by this unique event.
A huge attraction for participants is the breathtaking scenery, with some opting to take a few days before or after the event to make the journey truly memorable. There are two routes on offer of 140km and 60km so most abilities are catered for.
The Atlas Mountains that loom over the city of Marrakech contain the killer climb that forms an integral part of the Atlas Etape up to the ski station at Oukaïmeden. The ‘OUKA Monster’ as it is affectionately known begins gently after 29km from the start of the course, which comprises of a gently rise of about 1.5% up from Marrakech (The 60Km route turns around here). From here at 895m the climb begins, rising through the Ourika valley for 11km until the route branches and the main climb begins at 975m. The ski station is a further 30km, which rises through 1649m in altitude to the maximum height of 2624m. At the ski station the route drops back down all the way to Marrakech, giving you the opportunity to relish the climbing you’ve just undertaken.
The raise in altitude of 2129m over the course eclipses all the top road climbs used in the Tour de France or any professional road cycling race throughout Europe, the nickname “OUKA Monster” seems appropriate. The shorter 60km route has 365m of altitude gain and is more suited to those who prefer a more modest day in the saddle. There is not an aggressive broom wagon so participants can feel at ease riding as fast or as slow as they please.
The organiser Mike McHugo is working very closely with the Moroccan Government and an established events company to provide a safe and comfortable environment for participants. McHugo has lead bicycle tours across the country numerous times and has been involved with the country for over 30 years, he said of the event: “With cycling coming of age in Morocco, and with Marrakech to Oukaïmeden as a classic ascent to rank with any of the classic climbs in the Tour de France, I believe the time for a classic cyclosportive in Morocco has arrived.”
Funds raised will go towards the charity Education For All to which McHugo is one of the founders; they provide education for young girls in the Atlas Mountains since 2007. The intention is that the event could help to generate income for less fortunate members of the local community as well as the wider tourism benefit of such a European style Cyclosportive event.
For more information and for entry visit: http://www.marrakech-atlas-etape.com/