FOUR St Ives CC members travelled to the French Alps at the weekend to take on the enormous challenge of La Marmotte.

FOUR St Ives CC members travelled to the French Alps at the weekend to take on the enormous challenge of La Marmotte.

Based around the Alpine town of Bourg D'Osians, the 176km route takes in many of the famous Tour De France mountain passes.

The intrepid four were Paul Merryweather, Mark Robertson, long distance specialist Tim Parish and veteran racer Terry Cooke.

And it was Merryweather who immediately pushed ahead on the first climb of the Col Du Glandon.

The relentless climb culminates at 1924m attitude, but was just the first of several hurdles for the St Ives team to conquer.

At the base of the Glandon, Robertson and Parish came back together, albeit briefly, as the ascent of the next big climb of the day began, the legendary Col Du Telegraph.

Tackled 29 times in the Tour De France, the altitude at 1566m makes it the smallest of the mountains tackled but, by this stage, fatigue was affecting the riders and the ascent took most of the team over 60 minutes.

With Merryweather now leading the St Ives group, chased by Robertson, the team was barely half way as they rode on to the slopes of the Col Du Galibier to tackle the staggeringly high summit of 2645m.

Parish crested the summit feeling exhausted, but knew he could use the descent to his advantage.

Peaking at speeds of 98kph on the hairpin descent, he clawed back some valuable time to cement his third position in the St Ives group

The final summit finish of Alp D'Huez tested all the team to their limits.

With 150 km of mountain roads already under their wheels, the steep lower slopes of The Alp were the hardest the riders had experienced.

All four members of the team took the finish line, led home by Merryweather in 9.01hrs, hotly pursued by Robertson just one minute in arrears and Tim Parish in 10 hours and 30 minutes.

The first three times were good enough to win a silver award. However, despite finishing fourth in the St Ives team, Terry Cooke's inspired performance meant that, in the age related awards system, he eclipsed his team mates and was the only member of the squad to achieve gold.