The Client

Name – Simon Neville
Age – 45
Sport – Cycling
Experience – 7 years
Threshold Power – 3.11 w/kg

Simon Neville

The Challenge

Name – The Marmotte
Distance – 174.4km
Total climbing – 5,180m
Highest mountain – Col de Galibier (2,642)m
Drop out rate – 40%

Marmotte Route

Altitude Centre member Simon Neville took on the 2017 Marmotte. Considered by many to be Europe’s toughest cyclosportive, the Marmotte is a challenge not be taken lightly. We caught up with him after the event.

The Altitude Centre: So Simon, tell us about your experience in cycling and what made you decide to take on the Marmotte?

Simon Neville: I started cycling 7 years ago around about the time Wiggins and Team Sky started to make waves in the pro peloton. As for the Marmotte? Well it seemed like a good challenge (at the time!)

TAC: How do you feel you have progressed as a cyclist over the last 6-12 months?

SN: In the last 6 months my progress has been exponential. I started working with The Altitude Centre’s endurance coach Max Curle just before Christmas 2016. We completed a body composition analysis and a nutritional assessment to start with, and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve lost weight and increased my power numbers, so my performance has improved massively. When I started I was 109.7kg and my FTP was 247W. Over 6 months my weight came down to 91.1kg and my power up to 288W. Most importantly this meant my power per kilo went up from 2.25w/kg to 3.11w/kg (nearly a 40% improvement!) which was crucial over the mountain passes of the Marmotte!

Having the structured training that Max provided made the difference, and I’ve carried that on after the Marmotte in preparation for a weekend away at Mt Ventoux in a few weeks time!

TAC: What was the most challenging part of your training programme?

SN: 2.5 hour endurance rides at The Altitude Centre!! Max kept the training varied, and there were always tough sessions, but those long rides on a static bike were the hardest physically and mentally, and where the real progress was made.

(TAC can testify to this, as we have never seen someone enter the chamber filled with so much dread!)

TAC: What are you most proud of achieving in your training over the past 6 months?

SN: Not just completing the Marmotte, but never having a dark moment during the event. Not once did I feel I couldn’t do it, I always felt I had it in me, and that is testament to the hours I put in during training.

TAC: How did training at The Altitude Centre help in preparation for the Marmotte?

SN: Besides the structure provided by Max’s programme, having the chance to train at the altitudes reached during the event was invaluable. It meant I knew what it would be like to be on the limit going around the infamous hairpins of Alpe d’Huez, 8 hours after setting out on the ride.

TAC: What was the most difficult thing about the Marmotte as an event?

SN: The final climb! Knowing that you’re approaching the climb to Alpe d’Huez, you have 8 hours in the saddle already, it’s 25 degrees and you have a huge climb still to come! It’s tough mentally and physically at that point, but knowing I’d done the training helped!

TAC: How did it feel to reach the top of the Alpe?

SN: It was surreal! A very weird feeling. Of course I was elated, but being so physically and mentally drained at the time, it didn’t really sink in for a few days. Looking back now I can really appreciate what I’ve achieved.

TAC: So now you’ve conquered the Marmotte, what’s next for you?

SN: Watch this space! I’m off to Mt Ventoux with friends for a weekend which will be a great challenge again, but I’ve got my eye on the Haute Route Rockies or Haute Route Dolomites. Whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll involve yet more 2.5 hour rides in the chamber!!