Grimpeur by Haute Route #4

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4 Winter 2019


COL HISTORY Col du Sanetsch

RIDER STORY Yanto Barker - Le Col




Haute Route Oman


Haute Route Qingcheng


Haute Route Dolomites

Cortina d’Ampezzo

Haute Route Crans-Montana


Haute Route Alps • 7 days

Megève – Nice

Haute Route Pyrenees • 7 days

Pau Béarn

Haute Route Brazil


Haute Route Ventoux


Haute Route Mexico

Valle de Bravo

6-8 March

24-26 April

12-14 June

3-5 July

22-28 August

30 August-5 September

11-13 September

2-4 October

16-18 October



Dear riders, As Christmas is just around the corner, we are pleased to share with you the fourth issue of Grimpeur Magazine! To start with, you will discover a selection of the best photos from some of our event photographers in 2019. With 9 events to come in 2020, we unveil all the details about Haute Route Qingcheng with our Event Director, and showcase two challenging cols that the Haute Route will tackle next year, the mighty Col du Galibier and the lesser known but breathtaking Col du Sanetsch. There’s also an insightful interview with Yanto Barker, founder of Le Col, who will provide an Haute Route jersey to every rider in 2020. Featuring rider profiles, event results and stories from our 2019 Lanterne Rouges, this issue will help you focus on your upcoming cycling season.

COL HISTORY Col du Sanetsch

.12 RIDER STORY Yanto Barker - Le Col


Happy Holiday Season! The Haute Route team

RIDER PROFILE Martine Faure Editor: Coralie Batté Contributors: Jim Rutberg, Coralie Batté, Alain Rumpf, Andy McGrath, Mathilde L’Azou, Laurent Salino, Emmanuel Molle Graphic Designer: Edouard Hanotte


Copyright: Haute Route SA Published: December 15th, 2019.



Spending many hours on the roads to capture your emotions, efforts, achievements and the best landscapes the nature has to offer, some of our Haute Route photographers share a selection of their favourite photos from 2019.


With Mathilde L’Azou

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1. Mythical Port de Balès! A complicated day for the riders and their followers, 10 degrees at the summit... But a breathtaking landscape, which is why the Pyrenees are so charming. 2. Arrivals are always very emotional. Here, this rider’s grand-mother came to Pau just to congratulate him. We often don’t realise the true performance of these passionate riders, who push themselves to finish every stage, until we see how proud their relatives are on the finish line. 3. Haute Route goes through many iconic cycling climbs, here the Aubisque. I like this photo, the rider seems to be in his element, mild weather, and sumptuous lanscape. An idyllic day.



With Laurent Salino


1. The majestic Mont Blanc acting as the perfect backdrop. Over 7 stages, the Haute Routes Alps takes in some of the best panoramic views the French Alps has to offer. 2. Anthony crossing the finish line in Alpe d’Huez after a challenging queen stage between Courchevel and Alpe d’Huez. A very beautiful moment and a very emotional one too. 3. Some people ride to enjoy themselves. Some compete and attack with determination, just like Caroline during the descent at Col du Lautaret.

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With Manu Molle


1. Chinese mountain... Lush vegetation, not easy to have enough perspective to shoot the photo. 2. Arrival of the last classic stage, the Yin and Yang. 3. Two rainy days. Difficult to communicate with the population and my motorbike driver. Only two words exchanged in 3 days: ” Stop” and “Go”

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With Mathilde L’Azou



1. It’s mythical, the best stories from the Tour de France have been written on these empty roads above the tree line... And everyone deserves their glory moment at the top, whatever the context and the conditions. 2. What would be the Haute Route without its unique atmosphere? I love this picture as we are on time trial day, 2km from the summit, and these two riders challenged themselves all the way to the top. A great moment. 3. The Ventoux is not only the famous Bald Mountain which overlooks the entire region. There are also amazing small roads, a real treat for riders.




In 2020, the range of Haute Route experiences continues to expand with two new locations: Crans-Montana, Switzerland and Florianópolis, Brazil. Though one is perched high in the Swiss Alps and the other is on an island in the tropics, riders in either destination can expect the challenge, service, and camaraderie they can only find at an Haute Route. Here’s a look at some of the under the lens details about each event. Haute Route Brazil | 11-13 September, 2020 Our first-ever event in South America, Haute Route Brazil takes riders from the tropical island of Florianópolis, through rain forests, and up the iconic 17km Serra do Rio do Rastro climb towards the Brazilian Highlands, including a finish at the summit of the highest inhabited site in southern Brazil. Florianópolis is sometimes called “Ilha da Magia” (the Magic Island) because of its captivating beauty, lush rain forests, white sand beaches, and because of fables and folklore from the island’s long history. The Ultimate Beach Vacation After two days in Urubici, there will be plenty of time for you and your family or friends to kick back and relax on some of the island’s 42 white sand beaches. If sitting on the beach is not your style, you can find all manner of water sports along the shore, too. Try your hand at surfing, windsurfing, paddle boarding, and more. 10

Dining and Markets Florianópolis has both Old World charm and modern luxuries, and is a favourite vacation destination for people who want a more laid back atmosphere from major tourist destinations like Rio de Janeiro. As one might expect, the island is famous for fresh seafood, particularly locally harvested oysters and tainha (mullet fish). You can find everything from fine dining to street food, or peruse the many farmers markets selling passionfruit and star fruit right off the farm, as well as locally sourced honey and crafts.

Haute Route Crans-Montana | 3-5 July, 2020 Proclaimed as the sunniest plateau in the Swiss Alps, Crans-Montana sits on the south-facing slope of the Rhone Valley, with panoramic views of surrounding peaks. A year-round playground for outdoor sports, Crans-Montana is best known as a luxury ski resort in the winter. In the summer, the drive or cable car trip up from Sierre to the town at 1,500 metres above sea level takes you through beautifully terraced vineyards. Outdoor Activities for Everyone Crans-Montana is one of the most family-friendly destinations on the entire 2020 Haute Route calendar, with a wide variety of activities for kids and kids at heart. Whether you bring mountain bikes or rent them on the mountain, Crans-Montana is home to 177 kilometres of enduro and cross-country trails, plus three lift-served downhill runs and a bike park with technical features and a pump track. There’s also a world-class golf course that hosts the Omega European Masters Golf Tournament. If water sports are more your style, wakeboarding is available on Etang-Long, and non-motorised water sports like

standup paddleboarding on Etang de la Moubra. Both lakes are within walking distance of the village, and you can also enjoy the beautiful views over Etang Grenon in the heart of the village. One of the most unique activities in CransMontana is hiking the Bisse du Ro. This network of trails was originally built as an irrigation system in the 12th century to provide water for the vineyards in the valley. Parts are a stroll through the forest, and then there are areas that feature plank walkways that hang over precipitous cliffs, and areas carved out of the cliffside. Dining With more than 90 restaurants to choose from, you can find exactly the food you want for your post-stage dinner. From Michelin star fine dining at Le Mont Blanc or Restaurant Gastronomique L'Ours, to raclette burgers at the Burger Lounge or vegan and vegetarian options at Le Thai, there’s something for all tastes and dietary needs. Be sure to save room for coffee, dessert, or pastries from Boulangerie Taillens. 11


Col du Sanetsch

The most beautiful climb you’ve never heard of

by Alain Rumpf


“Sanetsch!” That’s what I pretty much yelled halfway through a lunch with Tristan Cousin and Simon Martinet from the Haute Route team. I might have spat some food in the process. They had just told me they were planning a new Haute Route event in Crans-Montana and were wondering which climbs should be part of it. Why this cry from the heart? On paper, the Col du Sanetsch has nothing special to offer. It sits in just another side valley of the beautiful Swiss canton of Valais. And unlike the more famous Grimsel, Furka, Nufenen and Grand Saint-Bernard passes, it is a dead end. Every cyclist will agree: an out and back ride doesn’t look good on Strava. And for that same reason, the pass has never featured in any of the pro races that visit the region: the Tour de Suisse, the Tour de Romandie and, from time to time, the Tour de France. No numbered switchbacks. No Dutch corner. No monument to Fausto Coppi. Still, the Col du Sanetsch may be my favourite climb in the world. OK, I live close by and might be biased. But I rode in many places around the globe as a racer, photographer and bike guide. I conquered Mount Evans in Colorado, I toured the Alps, I rode past the Great Wall of China, I crossed Europe on the Transcontinental Race. And I always marvel at the Sanetsch. It must be because the climb is a concentrate of Switzerland. It starts near Sion in the Rhone valley and meanders through the vineyards of Valais, the country’s largest wine-producing region. After a short flat section, you enter a narrow valley with some steep sections in the woods. You have climbed more than 1,000m by now (the equivalent of many big 13

Alpine climbs) but it’s far from over. In fact, the best is yet to come. A few switchbacks later, you reach the high pastures populated by the black vaches d’Hérens, the local breed of cows. Surrounded by the tall peaks of the Sanetschhorn and the Arpelistock, you are now above tree line and you are about to enter a dark and humid 800-metre tunnel. Most of the time, it is lit. One day, it was not and I will always remember my slow, blind walk in the dark, bumping into the tunnel walls. Lesson learnt: be prepared and take a set of lights when climbing the Sanetsch. The last kilometres after the tunnel are endless but you finally reach the summit at 2,252m, near the fast receding Glacier de Transfleuron. With more than 1,700m of climbing in 25km, it's the Swiss version of the famous Passo Stelvio, without the endless flow of camper vans, cars and motorbikes around you. How's that? Haute Route Crans-Montana will enjoy the 25-km descent back to the valley, but if you come back to the Rhone Valley you can try the other way down. Sanetsch Lake, a few kilometres beyond the summit is the end of the road. Does that mean you have to turn back? No: you can hook your bike onto a tiny gondola and go down 1,000m to Gsteig near Gstaad, in the German speaking part of Switzerland. A unique experience… You then ride up the Col du Pillon (1,546m) on your way to Les Diablerets. One more climb over the Col de la Croix (1,778m) and you get to my hometown of Gryon before arriving back on the Rhone valley floor at Bex. After that, you have two ways of returning to Sion: take the train or ride back for 45km on the wonderful flat cycle path along the river.


If you need more convincing, here is what Mike Cotty from the Col Collective said as we were shooting one of his legendary videos: "I’m having these flashbacks. The length of something like the Madeleine... the Grandes Alpes. You’ve got crazy steep pitches like [Monte] Grappa, narrow roads like the Gavia, the wilderness and openness of the Bonette. The list goes on, and when I put them all together that’s really the uniqueness that makes the Sanetsch so special." In a less lyrical tone, a guest I took on the Sanetsch just said, after catching his breath at the top: “this is my best bike ride ever ”. You’ve been warned. Alain Rumpf

Tips to climb the Sanetsch • Bring warm clothes, even if the forecast promises fine weather in the Rhone valley: temperatures can drop more than 15 degrees during the ascent and the wind blows hard at the top. • Also, you are likely to climb for 2 to 3 hours, so make sure you take advantage of Haute Route’s feed stations.

About Alain Rumpf In previous chapters of his life, Alain was a mediocre elite racer and worked 20 years for the UCI, the world’s cycling governing body. He lost his job in 2014 and became a professional bike bum. An ambitious career change that sees him work as a bike guide, photographer, writer and cycling tourism consultant. Follow him on his blog:


Haute Route Oman “The experience at Haute Route Oman was nothing short of incredible. The course was a perfect balance of killer climbs and spectacular scenery, but it was the people of Oman who made it unforgettable.” JENSON BUTTON, former F1 Racer and keen cyclist



Event Director Interview The first edition of Haute Route Qingcheng in October 2019 was a great debut for the brand in China, and the event management team on the ground in Qingcheng played a big role in that success. As we prepare to return to this very special region, famous for giant pandas, we sat down to talk with Peter, the Event Director in charge of overall operations, management, and implementation of the event.

Haute Route Qingcheng is the first event held in China. As Event Director, how did you choose Qingcheng as the best destination for riders? Peter: We chose Dujiangyan and Wenchuan as the venue of the event. On the one hand, it is a tourist destination with world natural heritage and world cultural heritage. On the other hand, it also has rich culture and architecture of Qiang and other ethnic minorities. The course is very beautiful and goes through all the landmarks of the region. In addition, the government has also given great support and help to our event, so that we can provide the best services for the athletes. We held a test event in 2018, and after nearly a year's preparation with relevant government departments and partners, we successfully held the first Haute Route Qingcheng in October 2019. Can you tell us more about the course and the landmarks of the region? After repeated investigation, evaluation and testing, we finally designed the course to pass the most beautiful and characteristic areas of Dujiangyan and Wenchuan, including Nanqiao, Qingchengshan, Zipingpu Reservoir, and the ancient town of Shuimo, so that the athletes can enjoy the best scenery in this area during the competition. What are the similarities between Haute Route Qingcheng and other Haute Route events around the world? According to the consistent tenets of Haute Route, we chose to ride in an iconic destination for cycling, help riders discover a new and exciting location, choose the most beautiful roads, provide the best services and logistics support for athletes,


and advocate the concept of health, hard work and environmental protection. Unlike other Haute Route events, Haute Route Qingcheng is organised on entirely closed roads. What’s the impact on the race and the atmosphere in the peloton? Road closure is very important for the safety of events in China, and it is an aspect that is recognised and sought by all athletes, including foreign athletes. In most parts of the world, riding and racing with full road closure is reserved only for pros, so this is a great opportunity for amateur riders to have a unique experience. The road closure also influences how the local people respond to the event. We had fans on the side of the road in 2019, but when the event happens a second time in April 2020 and even more local people know about it, there will be even more fans cheering for all the riders. How big is cycling in China? And what is the difference between Haute Route Qingcheng and other cycling races organised in China? China has a large population, and in recent years, with the improvement of people's living standards, sports and health have become more and more of a focus. At present, the number of cyclists in China is increasing, but it is still relatively low compared with the proportion of the population. I believe that more and more people will participate in cycling through more cycling events. It is very important to coordinate with all departments of the government to hold events in China, and to pay a lot of attention to the venue, the presentation and the ceremony related to the event to showcase the region and get more support and help from the government.

What is the reason behind changing the dates for the 2020 edition? On the one hand, the weather in Dujiangyan and Wenchuan in April will be more suitable for the event. On the other hand, it will allow riders to arrange their time for different events in Asia more reasonably. Would there be any novelty in 2020 in terms of cols or new roads? In 2020, we will introduce a Compact course to meet the needs and desires of a wider range of riders, increase the amount of the course and sense of ceremony in the Wenchuan Qiang ethnic minority area, and Increase the distance of the time trial course. What were your best moments during the 2019 edition? The best moments for me were at the award ceremonies. The ceremony on the final day made me feel very proud to be a part of Haute Route and see many foreign and domestic athletes gather together to celebrate, share friendship and build new relationships. After the first day of the competition, at the award ceremony in Yingxiu, we prepared Qiang-styled hats as prizes for the winners. They were very happy, especially foreign athletes. They were both curious and surprised. They really felt the unique cultural charm of Haute Route Qingcheng.



Yanto Barker He was a pro cyclist in Britain when he decided to create Le Col. Using his racing insights, he and his team have built one of the most advanced performance brands in cycling.


What inspired you to create Le Col ? It came down to performance, or rather a lack of. I was signing professional contracts but wearing kit that simply wasn’t fit for the purpose. I was so invested in giving my absolute best on the bike, I decided that kit could be done better by someone who understood what it means to train every day and race. I put my head down, gave it a go, and here we are. What would you say distinguishes your brand from others? Every product we make has been extensively tested by a network of current and former pros - people who know what works. Making good kit is more than design, it’s assembly. In 2014, we bought our own Italian factory. To this day, our product is made in Italy, and to our exact specifications - we don’t have to compromise. You are a former pro cyclist. You have experienced the most difficult races. Why did you decide to participate in an Haute Route? The feeling that competition gives, that wheel-to-wheel racing, it’s unique, and really addictive. Adjusting to life without it is hard. It was something that I’d heard the Haute Route did well, and having experienced it first hand, it’s the closest I’ve been to pro racing since I retired. What was your personal experience at Haute Route Dolomites? My first Haute Route reconnected me with that sense of being there to compete. With logistics taken care of, it’s pretty special turning up for a ride thinking solely of what you can do to maximise your performance. It wasn’t quite being pro again, but it was damned close. It gave me focus and rekindled that fire...

I went for fun but, couldn’t help but get swept up in it, and lured in to following wheels I shouldn’t have. I always ride hard, but, at the Haute Route, I found myself reaching. It’s got the atmosphere of a Queen Stage and the parcours to match. Riding on the limit up some of cycling’s most iconic climbs is something I’ll never forget. The organisation, with feed stations, support vehicles, and assistance frees you up to ride. Do you miss being a pro cyclist? Would you recommend Haute Route as a fun and challenging option for fellow retired pros? I think everyone who’s been a pro misses it at some point or another. You don’t want to miss it - it’s a tough life. The Haute Route is special because you can go for it. It’s controlled, it’s safe, but it allows you to really test yourself, push yourself, just the way pros do. If you could race against any pro cyclist (currently racing or retired) who would it be and why? I did race with my idol, Michelle Bartoli, who won Flanders in 1996. I was getting serious about cycling and it was a mark of my progress to take the start with someone like that. Another rider who was an idol, but a friend too, was Jeremy Hunt. He rode for Team Sky, Cervelo, and even GB. He was older than me and so I looked up to him. On a few occasions I even beat him. Of course, there’s always the greats: Indurain, Merckx, Vandenbrouk, but it’s the personal connection that cements it. As CEO and a dad of two young children, how do you still have time for cycling ? It’s just a case of making time. I’m disciplined with work; I make sure I get what needs to be done nailed down, and make sure I’m there at the end of the day 19

to be there for my wife and kids. I might have to get up early on a weekend, but as soon as I’m on my bike, it’s my time. As long as you’re pushing hard, you can fit quite a lot into a short space of time. Why did you decide to partner with Haute Route ? The Haute Route matches our philosophy. Improving yourself, making progress, and always challenging yourself. As cyclists, we dream of big days on the bike, with spectacular scenery. Those days are important, and the Haute Route delivers them to an incredibly high standard. For riders who have entered an Haute Route event in 2020, what would be your top tips in the run up to the event? The best training advice I ever got was to listen to your body. You could go out and smash yourself every day with a week to go, but if the base wasn’t there to start with, you’ll not shift your fitness. Make steady progress towards it, and know when to taper. Le Col is going to provide all the Haute Route riders with jerseys. Why do you think those jerseys will perfectly fit their expectations? On any one day at the Haute Route, you climb multiple mountains, speed through descents and power along valley roads. Our jerseys are designed to be versatile. Pro insight and technical fabrics mean our kit fits and functions better in extreme conditions, and it’s that quality that makes them perfect for the Haute Route. To what extent was the Haute Route world an inspiration for your designers ? The Haute Route is about challenging yourself, taking yourself out of your comfort zone to compete and complete. Our designers recognised that and brought 20

that challenge to life in the shape of a topographical inspired design. Reaching your peak, getting to the summit, and that feeling of accomplishment upon cresting a pass - that’s what our designers wanted to encapsulate.


Haute Route Mexico “The climbs were nice, the weather was perfect, not too hot. And the Event Village is amazing. This is what Mexico is like, it’s all really energetic and crazy and fun. I love Valle de Bravo. It’s been amazing and Haute Route events are always great but this is something really special!” JULIET ELLIOTT, British multi-discipline cyclist



John Thomas Doing the double! Riders at recent European Haute Route events have no doubt seen the black and red kits worn by staff and athletes of Alpine Cadence, one of many tour operators and coaching companies that bring athletes to Haute Route events. In 2019, Alpine Cadence’s co-director, John Thomas, won “The Double” by being the fastest rider to complete both Haute Route Pyrenees and Haute Route Alps back-to-back.


It’s no wonder Thomas was so well prepared. He is a Level 3 coach with the Association of British Cycling Coaches, and a top 5 finisher of the 2017 Haute Route Pyrenees and 2019 Haute Route Ventoux. To find out more about “The Double” experience and preparation, we caught up with him as he settled into the off-season.


What went through your mind as you signed up for “The Double”? The prospect of completing Haute Route Pyrenees and Haute Route Alps, back to back, was daunting for the 70 riders that took on the challenge in 2019. I for one had no idea what to expect. I had plenty of experience in 7-day events, but how would the body and mind fair over two weeks? Doing the double turned out to be an incredibly satisfying experience for myself and the vast majority of those that tackled it. Challenging for sure, with plenty of up and downs on the way, but with the right preparation it’s a very achievable and rewarding feat. Overall, how would you describe the experience of riding “The Double”? As I reflect on how it went for me, I would say the whole experience and my performance exceeded my expectations. There was certainly the fear of the unknown. Could I cope with 14 big days in the hills? That fear turned into immense satisfaction as the event progressed as I and the fellow double riders around me realised that we would get this job done. Maybe I was lucky, maybe just well trained, a bit of both I suspect. I had 14 great days and finished last year’s event buzzing. How was the day-to-day experience different than doing a single 7-day event? Previous 7-day events had sometimes seemed like a bit of a chore, with the early mornings and having to pack up and move on to new hotels. Bizarrely, two weeks of it seemed easier. I become so accustomed to the routine that daily components of life on an Haute Route just started to feel like a normal day after two weeks! It felt great and I know many of my fellow doublers felt the same.

What kind of riders can complete “The Double”? So, who can achieve the double….and enjoy it? I’d say anyone who has already completed a 7-day Haute Route event within the time cut off is capable, with the right approach, of achieving the double. Having experience with consecutive big days on the bike is important. To enjoy and succeed at the event, a good candidate should ideally have at least one big week of riding in their recent cycling history. Even if it wasn’t competitive, this creates confidence they can perform day after day. Once a rider commits to the Alps/Pyrenees adventure, what are the key aspects to getting prepared? Having worked with athletes getting ready for the events, and having ridden them myself, I recommend: 1. Spend hours on the bike There are no short cuts here. All Haute Route riders, whether 3, 7, or 14 days, will perform better with a high volume of riding in their legs prior to the event. The double, in particular, will reward the rider who has put in the distance. Of course, everyone’s lifestyles are different and the time available to train varies enormously. A big proportion of whatever time the rider has available to train should be devoted to long and relatively easy ‘endurance’ riding. 2. Use a structured training plan There are plenty of opportunities out there to follow training plans, and many of them will be very effective, especially for the rider needing and wanting structure and discipline in their preparation. Never underestimate volume though. The sheer amount of riding that you are able to get done in the months leading up to any Haute 23

Route is key. Doing an Haute Route is about endurance and lasting, so get your body and mind accustomed to being on a bike for a long time! 3. Respect the challenge A rider going for the double should come into the event with respect rather than fear of the challenge. Consecutive big days in training, and occasionally days that go well beyond a typical Haute Route day, will train the mind as well as the body. An average Haute Route day will be around 120km and 3000m of climbing. That type of day needs to be ‘normalised’ in the rider’s head and body. 4. Schedule a big training block Go to or create your own training camp, ideally in the mountains, where you can get in those consecutive days and plenty of distance. It would be great if you can do more than one, but at least aim to get a big, structured week done in the May – July period. Don’t panic if you can’t always achieve the altitude gain in your rides. Mountains automatically throw resistance at you; the rider has to work to get up them. That workload can still happen without the mountains, it just takes more discipline and ingenuity. 5. Be creative You won’t always be able to get out on the road or into the mountains. Home trainers are a great option, as is riding into the wind. If you’re able to enjoy regular group rides, make sure you’re not hiding in the pack! Take your turns on the front and even consider riding on your own to be in complete control of your efforts. Mountains force work onto you, you can still search for that work when you are riding outside of the hills!


6. Dial in the logistics Doing a double Haute Route is not twice as hard as doing a single one, but there’s definitely at least twice as much chance of things going wrong! Everything needs to be done to maximise your chances of staying in good condition for two weeks. Arrive a day early. Put careful thought into what accommodation/support package you use. Maximising your down time in a twoweek event is crucial. You need hotels that are well positioned, check ins need to be prompt so that you can get into your hotel when you want to. Think carefully about sleeping arrangements, who will you share with? Maybe it’s worth paying the premium for a single room. The travel between the 2 events needs thought of, too. The rider needs a quick, efficient and restful way of getting from the Alps to the Pyrenees. Don’t settle for cheap options. You’ve invested your time and money so much into preparing for the event, make sure that investment continues into how you look after yourself in the event too! 7. Do your homework Learn from and talk with other riders who have done the double. We are here to help! You’ll hear familiar stories of how riders feel stronger in the second week, almost benefitting from a training effect from the first week’s efforts. They’ll talk of doing all they can to not get sick: eat well, sleep and rest well, super attention to hygiene, and avoiding bugs as much as possible. Double riders will invariably talk of how they hit a ‘wall’ or low point 2 or 3 days into the second week and then end up finishing super strong in the final days as the finish line gets closer.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about “The Double”, but has doubts? If you decide to go for “The Double” you are not likely to be disappointed. Sure, you’ll need to invest plenty of time into your training but your sense of achievement in completing it will be immense. The process of getting ready for the event can be as rewarding as the event itself. You’ll be committing to a great journey that’s potentially fantastic all the way. A journey that culminates in two amazing weeks on some of the world’s absolute best roads with wonderful likeminded people. I’ll warn you, too, that it might become addictive! You could well find yourself joining the ever-growing number of serial doublers for whom a seven-day event just doesn’t seem enough! Go for it and good luck!

"Doing an Haute Route is about endurance and lasting, so get your body and mind accustomed to being on a bike for a long time!" JOHN THOMAS Co-Director of Alpine Cadence



Martine Faure DOB: 1959 Nationality: French Country of residence: France Profession: Cadre EDF Bike(s) Passoni carbone & Le Vacon titane Number of Haute Route events completed 3 Haute Route Alps, 2 Haute Route Pyrenees, 1 Haute Route Stelvio


When did you take up cycling and why? I started bicycling as a teenager, beginning with sightseeing tours, including mountain tours qualifications, it was an outstanding means to discover how magnificent our country is. Why did you decide to take part in your first Haute Route, and what keeps you coming back year after year? I started coming to Haute Routes because it is a highly professional organisation where nothing is left aside. I keep coming back because of the motivated participants and caring staff. And because it is highly demanding and helps people push the limit of their own capabilities. Can you describe your preparation for the Haute Route? My preparation begins with alpine skiing during winter conditions, and includes riding the home trainer (TACX), RPM sessions and Nordic cross-country power walking. From February, bicycling per se starts with continuous rides as often as possible, along with some organized training weeks in the south of France or northern Spain. As spring begins, mountain rides and time stages are my focus; for example “Etape du Tour”, “Les 3 ballons” in Alsace north east of France, “Maurienne trilogy” in Savoy French Alps. As summer comes, rides are longer and may last several days in a row, such as “Paris to Nice / Riviera” that last 10 days with no rest, and many others. How do you manage your cycling passion and your personal and professional duties? As many cyclists who have to share their time between professional, family and cycling time, I cannot train and perform as much as I would like, I however succeed in devoting most of my free weekends and vacations to training and bicycling.

What can you tell us about the services offered by the Haute Route? Both on and off the bike? Haute Route services are of the utmost quality. When I talk about “services” I mainly mean: safety and medical assistance along the event, course signage, hotels selection, care and transportation of baggage, and professional photos. And in some areas, participants may select the services that most suit them, considering their wishes, capabilities and available budget. I also appreciate how each participant is welcomed at the finish of each Haute Route stage. Professional mechanics are available, and everyone can get a dedicated sports massage. Daily evening briefings include photos from the day, awards distribution, presentation of the next day’s stage, and everything we need to know. And last but not least: the daily social cocktail gathering after the briefing is outstanding. Can you describe your daily routine on the Haute Route? Yes, at a 7-day event my day begins with an early wake up, packing my bag (that I mostly prepared before going to sleep the previous evening) and positioning it next to the next day hotel sign. Then I have a small but hearty breakfast as early as possible so there’s some time to begin digestion prior to the start. Arriving at the start line, I talk with other participants to share my feelings and discuss potential difficulties on the ride to come. When the stage starts, I try to stay in the front pack as much as possible, then depending on how I feel that day, I maintain a safe pace that will get me to the end of the stage within the time limit and in decent shape. The key is not to be exhausted, to enjoy the finish area, get a massage, and tour of the host town when possible. In the evening, I go to the briefing, enjoy the 27

cocktail after, have some dinner and get ready for the next day. How do you manage cut-off times? As I may spend extra time on the climbs, I tend to minimize stops and make up time during each descent. You received a big ovation when you received a prize at the closing ceremony in Pau. How is the atmosphere in the Haute Route peloton? The peloton has an international and friendly ambiance. As many participants are not riding the Haute Route for the first time, I have made lots of friends and everyone encourages each other during the race. It helps a lot and helps to overcome the time pressure. What would you say to someone who hesitated to participate in an Haute Route event? That’s easy: “Do not hesitate!” Anyone who is decently trained and in good shape can do it. It helps to have strong mind and positive attitude, as there will be hard times during the event. However, those moments are quickly forgotten the next day on the starting line. Do you have an anecdote to tell us about the Haute Route? I have several: • On my very first Haute Route, from Geneva to Nice, I will never forget my arrival at the head of the peloton, with police motorbikes on my sides, riding the “Promenade des Anglais” along the sea shore… I was the “lanterne rouge” of that Haute Route! • My arrival at the “Col de Portet” during the Haute Route Pyrenees 2018. That day I was quite late and had a difficult climb, and just as I saw the finish line and it 28

was almost in my grasp, a herd of sheep decided to cross the road and forced me to wait until they passed. • Again, my arrival to the finish of another stage of the Haute Route Pyrenees in 2019, when the Race Director Jean-François Alcan (Jeff) kindly came in his car – with the sign “Tete de Course” – to escort the last riders… another great time. What are your next objectives? I plan on doing some week-long training trips, and timed rides such as “Etape du Tour 2020” prior to the start of Haute Routes Alps and Pyrenees 2020. Describe the Haute Route in one sentence: An outstanding organisation by all means, open to any trained and mentally strong cyclist, and an event you will always remember.



Col du Galibier


I felt sick when I reached Alpe d’Huez. That’s because I’d got to hairpin 11, roughly the halfway mark, in just over 30 minutes and reckoned I was going to break the hour. Little did I know that the bends space out higher up the climb, and that I had done the equivalent of pacing a marathon like a mile run. As I descended nauseously, ruing my 17-year-old youthful over-exuberance, I kept reminding myself: Galibier, Galibier, you can’t miss the Galibier tomorrow, however bad you feel. A Tour regular since its first inclusion in the 1911 Tour de France, the Galibier has a visual and historical currency like no other climb in cycling: beloved of Tour founder Henri Desgrange, but usually hated by professional riders. Often, it is not a Tour kingmaker. Rather, a case of getting up this lofty peak — and safely down again — without losing time.

both sides: one south to Briançon or Bourg d’Oisans, the other leading to Valloire. Mont Blanc and the Massif des Écrins loom on the southern horizon. But it feels as if you’re out of time and geography. I stood, wind buffeting like nature wanted me out of the way, pulling on a rain jacket with a smile. I didn’t feel sick anymore, just on a literal high. You can’t manufacture the view or the vast fulfillment.

Editor Andy McGrath Subscribe to the world’s finest cycling magazine at

Even for the pros, it is drawn-out torture on a heavy road that steadily rises. Nobody has the clock running as they climb. Time seems to slow. Attack the Galibier immoderately at your peril. Going from the valley to eagle-encircling peaks is a rise through different worlds. The rushing Romanche river is replaced by trickling waterfalls; the man-made tunnels of the Lautaret left behind for Viennettahued mountains of rock and snow. Leaving the Col du Lautaret and its tourist shops behind, the road to the Galibier is nothing more than a black shoelace, wending around the rock face and bucolic pastures. At the summit, it falls away sharply on 31


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Duo Male 1. Asterix & Obelix team, 6h08m49s 2. GDR Canaviais Comprarcasa Evora, +2m20s 3. Challenge Family, +10m08s

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Male 1. Guillaume Bourgeois, 2h23m12s 2. Jorge Escamez, +5m29s 3. Francisco Javier Matamoros Navarro, +6m29s

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As we reach the end of 2019 and enter into a new decade, we reached out to some of the great riders who have served as Haute Route Lanterne Rouge and asked them about their best memories from their days in the red kit. From Helmer Berre, Haute Route Norway 2019 The connections between the Lanterne Rouge and the riders vary wildly. Some riders want to talk and others turn inward. Some are endlessly positive and others are really struggling. In most scenarios we set a common target and commit to achieve it together - we work as a team! At Haute Route Norway I met George, and he was someone I didn’t expect! I saw him up the road on an early climb. He was falling behind the others and I was afraid he would miss out the time-cut. As I closed the gap and rode up next to him, I expected to see a pained face with fatigue written all over. I couldn’t be more wrong. “Oh, there you are,” he said, his face pure sunshine and full of energy. “I have so many questions I want to ask you!” George was not sick, fatigued or an unexperienced rider. He was just going slow enough to use all his senses to observe, reflect and enjoy the scenery. From that moment on I got bombarded with questions. Because I’m from Norway, he wanted to know everything about the landscape, the people, and the local culture. When we reached the summit of the climb, I could hardly catch my breath. Besides having significantly increased the pace to close the gap to the back of 34

the peloton, he had literally emptied my brain of all local knowledge and history. George wasn’t a regular struggler just trying to get through the ride - he was 100% charging! He was so present and aware of the moment and his surroundings. His antennae were out, he was receiving on all channels, and his mind set to charge! Riding with George was inspiring for me because it reminded me to be present and to tune in to all my senses during a ride.

From PJ Mears, Haute Route Asheville 2019 As the Lanterne Rouge for Haute Route Asheville in May 2019, I'd say the most memorable moment was creating a bond with riders towards the back. Most notably, I spent both Friday and Saturday riding a lot with Allison and Joe. On Stage 1, Allison recognised that I knew the course and could see the climbing profile on my computer. Being able to tell her, "Yes, the top is coming, you can do it." felt really good particularly because I could leverage my local knowledge of the roads to help her have a better experience. On Stage 2, when Joe decided he was going for the long route, Allison approached me at the first feed station and asked me to wait for her so we could ride the Compact course together. That will always be special moment for me, when someone asked me as the Lanterne Rouge to hang with them for support, company, and encouragement. That’s why I accepted the offer to be a Lanterne Rouge. It just so happened that 30 miles into the ride, we saw a turtle in the road in one of the timed sections, long after the main peloton had passed by, and stopped to help it along its way! From Fergus Grant, the Original Lanterne Rouge I have lived in Courchevel in the French Alps for more than 20 years and, as the Haute Route Lanterne Rouge, we had already visited my hometown twice. In the 2019 Haute Route Alps we were coming back to my home patch, but as the speaker

for the event I would have the chance to see the arrival in a very different way. When the peloton left Megève that morning I headed straight to Courchevel ahead of the leaders to get ready for their arrival. I picked up my son Lucca from home and we drove to the top of the Col de Loze to await the riders. There is always a great atmosphere on the finish line as the riders come in but that day was extra special because the climb up to the Col de Loze was on a brand new road, and being the speaker in my hometown was a very gratifying feeling. I gave every rider an extra warm welcome as they came over the line. The next morning, I also had the pleasant experience of waking up in my own bed and having breakfast with my family before setting off to the start line, less than two kilometres from my front door, to see the riders off on their way to Alpe d’Huez. I have memorable experiences at all the Haute Routes I go to, and the day Haute Route came to my home town was extra special. Best Wishes From all of us at the back of the pack, on the course, and in the village, we wish you a happy and healthy New Year!