The third edition of the Alpes Grésivaudan Classic saw young talent Marion Bunel clinch her first major victory in the 113 km race. The French climber from St Michel-Mavic-Auber93, at just 19 years old, managed to pull ahead in the closing stages to secure a triumphant win, finishing 1 minute and 35 seconds ahead of her nearest rival, Evita Muzic.

The race began with an undulating first half, followed by a series of climbs and descents towards Grenoble, ultimately leading to the final ascent to Chamrousse. An early breakaway saw eight riders, including Dilyxine Miermont, Coralie Demay, Tiril Jorgensen, Noémie Abgrall, Ségolène Thomas, Maeva Squiban, Fariba Hashimi, and Morgane Coston, gaining a maximum lead of two minutes. Among them, Morgane Coston, who finished third in 2023, gathered crucial mountain points.

The Col du Barioz, the day’s main challenge, shattered the breakaway as the FDJ-Suez team pushed the pace. The peloton, reduced to around thirty riders, caught up with the escapees by kilometre 59, forming a new lead group. The race then resembled a rollercoaster with multiple attacks and breakaways.

Fernanda Yapura in the fog at the summit

Final Attack by Bunel

With 33 kilometres remaining, Amber Kraak from FDJ-Suez launched an attack, which briefly created a split. However, it was Marion Bunel who made the decisive move. At just 19, Bunel broke away from her companions with 9 km to go, demonstrating her climbing strength and determination. She extended her lead through the misty, cold final kilometres to cross the finish line first at Chamrousse.

Evita Muzic, the two-time winner, followed in second place, while Julie Bego, also 19 and a former junior world champion, completed the podium. Muzic acknowledged Bunel’s powerful finish: “She was incredibly strong today. I tried to close the gap, but Marion had another gear.”

In the Coupe de France standings, Giada Borghesi retained her leader’s jersey, finishing sixth in the mountainous stage. Ségolène Thomas, despite missing out on the final break, found confidence in her performance: “It feels good to be back! I had good legs today. When the break went, I knew I had to go for it to avoid potential crashes in the descents. I fell short in Chamrousse, but considering my early season back issues, I’m really satisfied.”

Fernanda Yapura, who finished 16th, shared her race experience: “The sensations weren’t great; I felt tired last week. In a race like today’s, you have to find strength and motivation every kilometre. I managed to stay in the first group and help Ségolène. I would’ve liked to be further up, but today, this was all I had in my legs!”

(l-r) Evita Muzic, Marion Bunel, Julie Bego
Photo Credit: Philip Melchior

2024 Alpes Gresivaudan Classic result

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Main photo credit: Philip Melchior