The gran fondo season kicked off in Southern France on May 5 in the village of La Canourgue with the start of the Cyclo’Tour Rotor Challenge, a season long 7 race gran fondo series covering almost 1500km with 5000 participants.
The first race, Lozérienne, covered 155km with 2585m climbing throughout the beautiful Lozère region, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, including Aubrac, the Gorges du Tarn, the Lot Valley, the Margeride, the Grands Causses.
350 riders braved cold, wind and even a bit of snow atop cols as the last vestiges of winter lingered. A punishing course under normal conditions, today was particularly difficult – especially the last 40km directly into strong headwinds.Paul Emile Lorthioir riding for team Trek Vélo101 took the victory in 4:36:52 in a 3-up sprint, beating Stéphane Cognet and Cedric Richard.
Afterwards, rider were treated to a plate of hot Aligot, a delicious local dish made from cheese blended into mashed potatoes.
Next up in the series is Granite Mont Lozère, on June 2, a 122km course starting in Villefort.