The Atlas Etape has become a major international cycling event. Contestants come from England and many European countries as well as many Moroccan riders from Casablanca and Agadir cycling clubs and enthusiasts from all over the country take part as cycling as a sport has come of age in Morocco.
It’s a great opportunity to participate in a premier sporting event whether as a rider or spectator enjoying the excitement and the added bonus of the ancient medina of Marrakech with its souks and fine restaurants.
One of the best ways to capture the atmosphere and magic of the Medina is to stay in one of Marrakech Riad’s superb luxury riads which can be booked on line : contact @marrakech-riad.co.uk
Riad Cinnamon formerly a merchants house has five luxury suites with extra beds to meet the requirements of groups. Riad Star close to the Marrakech museum is a stylish jazz aged themed riad with art deco decoration and large rooms and can sleep up to 18 people .Riad Papillon near the Pacha’s Palace completes the luxury accommodation available with Marrakech Riad group offering authentic traditional accommodation in the heart of Marrakech, conveniently close to the vibrant souks and markets. The in house hamam and massage services can sooth away aches and pains from the Atlas Etape.
TheAtlas Etape began in 2012 when Mike McHugo of Discover Ltd and the Kasbah Toubkal teamed up with Saif Kovach of Argan Extreme Sports and created the Marrakech Atlas Etape which starts from the ancient city of Marrakech to the Ourika valley and the steep challenging ascent towards snow capped peaks and Oukaimeden ski station at 2,642 metres, known as the « Ouka Monster « .
Idyllic mountain scenery and the Berber villages and terraced fields are the back drop to the Etape with villagers cheering the contestants on. Once at the summit riders enjoy the views of the Marrakech plains before starting on the long downhill run to Marrkech controlling their speed as they hurtle through bends and villages on the way to the finishing post in Marrakech.
The Atlas Etape raises funds for Education For All an NGO founded by Mike McHugo providing boarding houses near schools for young girls in Atlas Mountains who wish to pursue their education to College level. Education for All (EFA) provides. EFA believes that educating girls in the rural areas helps to ensure education for future generations. Efforts are being made by the government to boost eduction for girls in rural areas where traditionally they were restricted to looking after the home or working in the fields.
Riders need to be fit . They have the option of courses for 60 kilometres and the full 140 km as « a really hard slog « which requires fitness and ideally as few months of reasonably strenuous biking practice. The 140 km is the course for the professional bikers and those who are really fit, two other routes are available 104 or 84 km to suit riders of different abilities to encourage as many as possible to take part.