Queen of the Mountains28.06.2023 Sports & Leisure, Events, Local News, Sports & Leisure
With well over 200 participants hitting the roads early on Saturday morning, in late June, the La Reine bicycle race offered two routes for the ladies to conquer. The excitement was palpable.
The competition was not about defeating others but about challenging oneself. In the La Reine cycling race, exclusively for women; timing was only recorded for individual sections of the Gran Fondo and Medio Fondo courses.
A Joyful Journey
At the third edition of this unique amateur cycling race in Europe, open exclusively to women, participants pedalled through the breathtaking landscapes of Saanenland, Pays-d'Enhaut, and the Gruyère region, riding along pleasant, well-paved side roads. It came as no surprise that the scenic views throughout the route enchanted riders, and they happily praised the services and delicious refreshments provided at rest stops.
This year, professional support vehicles were introduced for the first time. However, unlike the prominent professional tours, these vehicles discreetly stayed in the background, helping only when needed, such as for punctures or technical issues.
Out of the 230 participants, there were not only triathletes and avid racing bike fans, but also women who were excited to ride with other women and receive support and encouragement. The organisers anticipated the first finishers around 2 pm, with the women setting off between 7 and 9 am. However, just before one o'clock, the first riders crossed the finish line, strategically located in the heart of Saanen to attract a larger audience.
A Challenging Stretch
Approaching Saanen from Rougemont, the riders tackled the final stretch on the main road. Some of the motorists' overtaking manoeuvres proved to be quite daring. "We were honked at by drivers who seemed genuinely annoyed by the presence of numerous women on racing bikes." Nevertheless, the allure of the mostly tranquil 136-kilometre Gran Fondo and 87-kilometre Medio Fondo courses, away from busy traffic, made the experience all the more rewarding. Many participants were returning for their second La Reine race, accompanied by colleagues and family members this time. If the enthusiastic impressions shared by the women about this year's event continue to spark interest within their circles, the number of participants is bound to increase next year.
If this is you – get ahead of the line and check out next years La Reine
LA REINE: A GRAND FINALE TO A CYCLING WEEK ACROSS SWITZERLAND
In the midst of the participants stood 18 female journalists and influencers from around the globe, joined by Sarah Haslebacher, Partnerships Manager at Switzerland Tourism. As part of the "100% Women" campaign, Switzerland Tourism embarked on a bike tour across the country this year, aiming to showcase Switzerland as a versatile cycling destination for all. Hailing from 15 different countries, some of the women were visiting Switzerland for the first time, commencing their journey with mountain bike tours in Graubünden at the beginning of the previous week.
While some were venturing into uncharted territory, others already had some cycling experience, although none of them were professionals. Each rider had the chance to acquaint themselves with road cycling and ride at their own pace. While some soaked in the scenic beauty, marvelling at the views, others found their rhythm, embracing the competitive nature of the race and striving to reach the finish line within a reasonable time. Haslebacher noted that the group maintained a harmonious and enjoyable atmosphere from day one. As a break from cycling, the Saanenland region offered a day without bikes, featuring a visit to the glacier and a tranquil evening ambience atop the Hornberg.
Based on AvS | Jenny Sterchi