GFNY Announces: GFNY Grand Ballon
GFNY heads to Thann for inaugural race in July 10, 2022
Nestled at the foothills of the Vosges mountains, the town of Thann has a rich heritage that earned it the title as one of the 100 most beautiful destinations of France (Les Plus Beaux Détours de France). The historic town center is spread around the St-Thiébaut collegiate church, a jewel of Gothic architecture. As you stroll along the narrow streets, you will discover 16th century houses, fountains, oriel windows, towers and fortifications dating from the 14th and 15th centuries and the embankments of the Thur River.
Charming villages are set throughout the heart of two valleys in southern Alsace. The routes will lead you to waterfalls and mountain lakes, and will offer you a panorama and a breathtaking landscapes of the Alsace plain to the Bernese Alps. You will be able to take in the beauty of the mountain range by crisscrossing the ridge route.
Thann lies at the start of the 170km Alsace Wine Route and boasts a wine-growing tradition and exceptional vineyards. The route shows idyllic landscapes, cultural highlights and, of course, the vineyards themselves. Set on steep sides of mountains, the unique vineyards produce some of the world’s most remarkable vintages.
The long course of GFNY Grand Ballon will take you through the heart of the scenic Balloons des Vosges Nature Park, to test yourself on the most legendary and demanding climbs of the Hautes Vosges Mountains.
The race starts from the historic center of Thann, at the gateway to the Alsace Wine Route. The climbing starts 1km into the race, up the little-known climb Le Plan Diebold, just before joining the ascent of the mythical Grand Ballon. Grand Ballon is highest point of the Vosges Mountains and its road culminates at 1325m.
After descending Grand Ballon, you will race along the ridges towards the Markstein Ski Station at KM 35 and then you’ll reach the Florival Valley and its small typical Alsatian villages. Your next Vosges climbs are the Col du Fisrtplan at KM 70, the very demanding climb Wasserbourg with its maximum incline of more than 21%, Petit Ballon at KM 86.5, Col du Platzewasel at KM 103, Route des Crétes, a second ascent to the top of Grand Ballon at KM 117 and finally the last climb, Viel Armand, a place of historical significance from the First World War at KM 128. The descent will lead you through Cernay before taking the Thann Road and completing the race. Beware of the headwind and stay with a group, your determination to reach the finish line will help you get through this flat section.
Make no mistake, we are in the middle of the mountains with the well-known climbs of the Tour de France will leave you very little respite, but the breathtaking views on the Vosges Balloons and the magnificent Alsace Plain will make you forget the challenges.
Back in Thann, a festive post-race celebration and meal await you. Celebrate your accomplishment in the historic center of Thann after a day of enjoying the surrounding nature.
Long Route – 145km
Medium Route – 56km
The closest airport to Thann is the EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg (codes EAP, MLH, BSL), which is just a 30-minute drive to Thann. This airport has service from within Europe via Air France, Ryanair, Sprintair and easyJet.
For international arrivals, check flights to these international airports:
Zurich (ZRH) – 1h:30 drive or 2h:20 train
Paris (CDG) – 5h drive or 4h:20 train (express train from CDG to Strasbourg)
Frankfurt (FRA) – 3h drive or 4h train