Billed as ‘the highest and toughest cyclosportives in the world’ the Haute Route series is one of the most challenging cycling events on the sportive calendar. The series consists of three separate seven day road races, timed and ranked, across the Alps, the Pyrenees and the Dolomites-Swiss Alps respectively.
Typically covering over 700 km and climbing over 19,000 meters each of the three events takes riders across some of the iconic climbs of the three Grand Tours. Anyone with a passing interest in professional cycling will be familiar with names such as the Alp d’Heuz, Mont Ventoux, the Tourmalet or the Passo dello Stelvio in Italy.
The Haute Route typically crosses three or four such Cols on six of the seven days of the event. There is also what is euphemistically known as the “Rest Day”- a time trial up one particularly grueling col thrown in for good measure.
Seven days in the saddle can take its toll. Our team had a crash or two – one smashed bike and some bruising – but mostly everyone stayed upright. It’s always fun meeting up with friends from previous years – Swiss, Belgians, Germans, Canadian – as the Haute Route attracts competitors from every corner of the world. There’s the breath-taking views from the top of equally breath-taking climbs.
The Haute Route is a timed and ranked event so dinner generally started with much slagging as we picked through the results sheet to see who was up and who was down in both the Daily and Over All rankings, with the coveted team Yellow Jersey changing hands a few times between Dave and Ralph over the week before Dave’s grip became vice-like.
In my own case I came pretty close to abandoning on the decent off the Jullerpass, as a combination of freezing fog and rain conspired to catch most people off guard and under dressed. After only 30 km of a 187 km marathon stage, I was so cold I could hardly control the bike on the decent – several hot chocolates, a black bin bag, a pair of ladies cycling gloves and two copies of the local newspaper for insulation were needed to get me back on the bike. That, and the thought that I’d finished two of these bloody races in previous years, so there was no way I wasn’t going to finish this one.
Two days later we arrived at the shores of lake Geneva. I’d finally warmed up! Job done.
About the Haute Route
If you fancy pushing yourself through an l’Etape every day for 7 days, then the Haute Route is for you. For more info visit www.hauteroute.org or you can even watch the movie – I kid you not! Entries for 2015 are now open.
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