Grimpeur by Haute Route #3

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3 Autumn 2019


TRAINING How to avoid cramping during a long ride

EVENT STORIES Mont Ventoux: Fear and the mountain

RIDER PROFILES Jocelyn Hutton: From dressage to Haute Route


Moving mountains since 2011 so you can reach new heights. Success, victories and achievements are things we all seek in every facet of our life. We all strive to become better people, succeed in our work, cultivate a healthy body and mind, create a great family life and build strong friendships. As a result, we may sometimes feel we are missing out on something, and that we won’t ever be able to accomplish it. At Haute Route, we believe that, with a little help, we can all overcome the obstacles that keep us from being the best we can be. Whether it is the pressure we put on ourselves, the pressure society puts on us or our own physical limitations—real or imagined - we believe you are tougher than you think. The road can seem long, hard and lonely, but together we are stronger. Let us give you a hand. Need Need Need Need

training? You’ll get it. support? You’ll have it. teammates? You’ll meet them. challenges that test your grit? You’ll find them!

Born in the mountains and raised on the road, Haute Route is driven by a passion for soaring heights and personal feats. We pave the way to the most intense experience of your life. So, if you’re the type of person who never does things by halves, rest assured that when you ride with us there’s no stopping you from going all the way.



Dear riders, Welcome to the third issue of Grimpeur Magazine! After launching the 2020 Haute Route entries last month, we are pleased to bring you some exciting previews in this issue which will help kickstart your upcoming cycling season. With three events still to come in 2019, we also showcase the inaugural Haute Route events in Mexico and China, and an interesting feature from our friends at Rouleur about the aura of Mont Ventoux. There’s an insightful article from our Official Global Partner, Precision Hydration, along with insightful rider profiles and a feature story from the first stage of the Haute Route Alps 2011, where the story began. On top of this you’ll also find event results, an interview with the founders of À BLOC beer, and another story from our original Lanterne Rouge and now official announcer, Fergus Grant.

TRAINING How to avoid cramping up during a long ride


EVENT STORIES Mont Ventoux: Fear and the mountain


Wishing you enjoyable reading, The Haute Route team

RIDER PROFILES Jocelyn Hutton: From dressage to Haute Route

Editor: Coralie Batté Contributors: Jim Rutberg, Jo Clarke Graphic Designer: Edouard Hanotte


Copyright: Haute Route SA Published: October 3th, 2019.



What’s New in 2020? Three New Events Haute Route is always searching for new ways to help you discover the best roads, climbs and destinations for cycling. For 2020 we have three new 3-day events. Join us from July 3-5 in the Swiss Alps for Haute Route Crans-Montana, or September 11-13 in the seaside city of Florianópolis for Haute Route Brazil. For a high-elevation challenge, spend September 18-20 riding Haute Route Boulder in the United States. New Athlete Resources We recently launched an updated website, and you are now able to set up an Haute Route athlete account to streamline the registration process.


Haute Route Bundles In addition to the Infinity Pass, for 2020 you can ride more and pay less by purchasing two Haute Route events at once. The Haute 7+7 bundle is the ultimate cycling challenge that combines Haute Route Alps and Haute Route Pyrenees for a 14-day journey across two of Europe’s great mountain ranges. Many athletes use one Haute Route event to train for another, and the Haute 7+3 bundle is the perfect way to ride an early-season 3-day event to train for Haute Route Alps or Haute Route Pyrenees, or use one of these 7-day events to train for a late-season adventure. The Haute Route 3+3 bundle is great for athletes who are new to Haute Route, or busy athletes who have time to get away for a couple of long weekends and value the convenience of letting Haute Route take care of the details.

What is Staying the Same? Infinity Pass The popular Infinity Pass is back for 2020, but in limited numbers. With an Infinity Pass, you can ride as many 2020 Haute Route events as you want, for one fixed price. 2020 passes sold out quickly when registration opened mid-September. 10th Anniversary Haute Route Alps The event that started it all celebrates its 10th Anniversary in 2020. The flagship 7-day event will once again start in Megève and finish along the Mediterranean Sea in Nice. With about 800 kilometres and 20,000 metres of climbing, the course will feature a combination of iconic Tour de France climbs and hidden gems that showcase the immense beauty and challenge only the Alps can offer. A change from 2019, Haute Route Alps will come first in the calendar, before Haute Route Pyrenees. Haute Route Pyrenees Round Trip to Pau All the challenge of a 7-day Haute Route with fewer hotel moves and a round trip to Pau for more convenient travel logistics. More rural than the Alps and featuring climbs with more variable grades, Haute

Route Pyrenees is an opportunity to discover the unique character of this epic mountain range that separates France from Spain. Premium Services On and Off the Bike Support is the key ingredient to helping cyclists reach new heights. At Haute Route we believe challenging and safe courses are only the beginning. Our mission is to help riders have the best rides of their lives, and we do that by making sure riders are well fed and optimally hydrated at feed stations, well taken care of by professional massage therapists after each stage, well informed by our professional rider experience staff, and well looked after by our professional moto, medical, and mechanical crews. With one of the highest staff-to-athlete ratios of any cycling event, Haute Route has the staff, services, and expertise to help you have the ride of your life.


Nevado de Toluca, Central Mexico’s captivating natural wonder 6

Photograph: Francisco Casanueva


With its unique geography, regional cuisine and traditional spirit, Valle de Bravo was named one of the Top 3 Magic Towns in the Mexican Tourism Ministry's Pueblo Mágico program. The inaugural Haute Route Mexico will explore the region by riding through villages and small towns full of local colour and culture. In addition to the beautiful pine forests and lakeside roads, the climb of Nevado de Toluca is the centerpiece of Haute Route Mexico. The highest peak reached in any 2019 Haute Route event, the Nevado de Toluca is one of Mexico’s most stunning natural wonders. With its highest point more than 4,600 metres above sea level, it’s a climb to be reckoned with. But it is not only a demanding cycling climb; it’s also an outdoor hub and has been an important cultural site for centuries. Visit an extinct volcano Located in the Estado de Mexico and surrounded by some of the most captivating scenery in all of Central Mexico, the Nevado de Toluca is an extinct volcano whose original name–Xinantécatl–means “naked man” in the Náhuatl language. Off the bike there is a wide variety of activities for outdoor enthusiasts; from walking up to its crater and witnessing its wonder to climbing its frozen peaks or camping in the pristine forests around the volcano.

pristine conditions for centuries, providing archeologists with a window to the past. Even to this day, you can feel the energy that drove the inhabitants of the region to worship this mountain. Experience the real Mexico Far from the crowded beach resorts and about two hours from the congestion of Mexico City, Valle de Bravo offers visitors a special opportunity to have an authentic experience in Mexico. Thanks to support from the local community, Haute Route Mexico riders will get a taste for authentic and traditional Mexican cuisine at the riders' lunches and feed stations. There’s also plenty to do for friends and family, from paragliding to sailing and mountain biking to trail running. For a more cultural experience, stroll the cobblestone streets through the main square and enjoy a warm esquite with lime or a traditional blackberry sorbet or an ice cream called mantecado. Visit the Parroquia de San Francisco, famous for its pink stone façade and columns, or walk along the pier as the sun sets over the lake.

But the Nevado is not just a natural playground. It was considered a holy mountain of vital importance to the indigenous cultures of the region. The lagoons located in the extinct volcano crater hold extraordinary well-preserved evidence of the rituals performed by ancient populations that lived in the area surrounding the Nevado. The high-altitude climate of the crater helped objects stay in 7


How to avoid cramping up during a long ride by Andy Blow


Exercise-associated muscle cramps are very common, affecting between 40% and 95% of athletes at some point. Despite the fact that cramping has been widely studied, no one really knows the full story on why athletes suffer from them. What causes muscle cramp during exercise? There are two main theories on what causes athletes to cramp: the Dehydration/ Electrolyte Depletion Theory and the Neuromuscular Theory. Dehydration/Electrolyte Depletion Theory This is probably the oldest and speculates that if you lose a lot of water and sodium through sweating and don’t replace it, this can cause fluid shifts in the body that in turn trigger cramps. Much of the early evidence behind this theory came from looking at people doing sweaty work in difficult conditions, including miners, construction workers and military personnel. Researchers came to the pretty universal consensus that providing workers with adequate amounts of salt alongside the water they were drinking was quite effective in treating or preventing many cases of cramp. Similar research and conclusions can be found in sports. In 1996, Dr. Michael Bergeron documented a case study of a cramp-prone tennis player who had a high sweat rate and was deemed unlikely to be replacing his sodium losses through his normal diet. He was prescribed an increased salt intake and “was ultimately able to eliminate heat cramps during competition and training by increasing his daily dietary intake of sodium.”


Despite plenty of circumstantial evidence supporting the Dehydration / Electrolyte Depletion theory, it lacks the more “concrete proof” of data from large-scale, randomised controlled trials necessary for it to be widely accepted as anything approaching fact. Neuromuscular Theory This theory proposes that muscles tend to cramp specifically when they’re overworked and fatigued, due to electrical misfiring. It is also better suited to lab testing. Because researchers can excite muscles with electrical stimuli and provoke muscle cramps to measure what’s happening at an electrical level, there’s robust data to support the theory. One big factor that appears to support the neuromuscular theory is that stopping and stretching affected muscles is often an effective method for fixing cramps when they occur. Stretching puts the muscle under tension, invoking afferent activity from the Golgi Tendon Organs, the part of the muscle responsible for telling it to relax. The Theory of Everything At this point it’s important to steer your thinking away from this being a binary, ‘either/or’ argument between two competing ideas. No one has confirmed a definitive cause for cramps, and the most productive viewpoint is to look at the bigger picture. Muscle cramps are likely to have multiple causes including, but not limited to, dehydration and neuromuscular fatigue. As a result, it’s likely that multiple interventions are needed to eliminate these different types of cramp.


Avoiding or Alleviating Muscle Cramps There’s no ‘magic bullet’ available, and it doesn’t look like there will be one coming along anytime soon. But there are a few things you can try if you cramp regularly. Consume additional sodium before and during rides that tend to result in muscle cramps Look at your sodium intake in relation to your sweat output, particularly if cramps tend to occur during or after periods of heavy sweating, in hot weather, late on during longer activities, or if you generally eat a low sodium diet. If you consume electrolyte drinks, be sure they’re strong enough. Many sports drinks advertised for electrolyte replacement are actually light on electrolytes, containing only about 200 to 500 milligrams sodium per litre. Meanwhile, the average athlete loses about 950 milligrams of sodium per litre of sweat, and saltier sweaters can lose as much as 2,000 milligrams per litre of sweat. If you’re looking to see if sodium supplementation can help with your cramping, look for drinks containing upwards of 1,000 milligrams of sodium per litre. Aim for a similar ratio if you’re getting sodium from food. Take in the extra sodium in the hours immediately before and during activities that normally result in muscle cramps. If you’re riding an Haute Route this season, you’ll find a tube of PH 1500 in your Rider’s Pack to enable you to easily preload before each stage. You’ll know pretty quickly if this is effective or not, and can fine tune your dosage to

balance cramp prevention with keeping your stomach happy over time. Reduce Fatigue Because it seems highly likely that fatigue is also a factor in many instances of cramping, finding ways to minimise it is also logical. Train specifically for events that tend to result in cramps, with the right mix of volume and intensity to prepare your muscles for what’s going to be asked of them.

Andy Blow has a degree in Sport and Exercise Science and was once the Team Sports Scientist for Benetton and Renault F1 teams. He has a few top 10 Ironman and 70.3 finishes and an Xterra World Age Group title to his name. He founded Precision Hydration - the Official Hydration Partner of Haute Route - to help athletes solve their hydration issues.

Taper into events so that you’re fresh and well rested when you start. Make sure you’re adequately fuelled, with plenty of carbohydrates on board before you start and that you refuel adequately to avoid becoming glycogen depleted. Finally, pace yourself appropriately to avoid prematurely overloading your muscles. Other strategies Other strategies for overcoming problems with muscle cramps that are far from proven, but make intuitive sense, have been used successfully by athletes, and are inexpensive and accessible, include sports massage and stretching of the affected muscles, acupuncture, thorough warm ups before cramp-inducing activities and mental relaxation techniques. The biggest takeaway is that you don’t have to just accept that you’re doomed to cramp. Work through the options, and you can have a mostly cramp-free future.



Mont Ventoux: Fear and the Mountain of the Tour de France's defining moments, Mount Ventoux occupies a unique space with the mythology of the Tour. Paul Maunder explores its aura.



"Wise is he who does not return there. But mad is he who does!" These are the words of an old man to Frederic Mistral in 1857, on discovering that the Provençal poet and two friends had just climbed Mont Ventoux for no reason other than to look at the view from the top. The Giant of Provence rises to 1,909 metres. Geologically, it is part of the Alps, yet it sits alone in the landscape. Alone, and dominant. The white scree at the top, often described as lunar, is limestone. Over the centuries the mountain was stripped of its forests for charcoal production, then timber for shipbuilding. Since the 19th century, conservation efforts have had some success in replanting trees. The flora and fauna on the mountain have long attracted collectors and medicinemakers, and are now protected by UNESCO. In the autumn, wild boars are hunted in the forests. Some say wolves still roam there. It is one of the windiest places on earth. In February 1967, a wind-speed of 320 km/h was recorded on the summit. The very name Ventoux is often thought to originate from the French word for windy, venteux, but the correct etymology is the word vinturi, meaning mountain. So the literal translation of Mont Ventoux is Mount Mountain. Cycling has a special relationship with landscape, but I would contend that of all the famous places we know and love, only Ventoux inspires fear, awe and joy on such an instinctual level. Paris-Roubaix’s trench of Arenberg comes close; it is the opposite of Ventoux, a dark, dank forest that riders charge into, not 14

knowing what awaits them, and whether they will emerge at the other end. The mines beneath, and the word trench, with its connotations of warfare, accentuate the darkness. Many have come to grief on its cobbles; Johan Museeuw almost lost his leg as a result of his horrific crash on this tract. Ventoux, by contrast, is open, straightforward and brutal. Ascended by the classic Bédoin route, the climb is 21km long, with an average gradient of 7.5 percent. On paper this sounds manageable, but within it is the 9km section from St Estève to Chalet Reynard, through the forest with an average gradient of 9 percent, and some ramps up to 12 percent. Pass this test and you emerge into the infamous blasted cauldron of the last 6km. The air is dry and scarce. The crosswinds can have you leaning your bike just to stay on two wheels. And the heat reflects off the

merciless rocks. A cyclist should not fear the gradient, the heat or the wind. He or she should fear the combination of all three. In a race, tactics are minimal here. By the last few kilometres, towards the aptly named Col des Tempêtes, there is only road, white rock, wind and pain. If the Tour de France has made Mont Ventoux famous, this final section is where its defining moment came on July 13, 1967. It was the 13th stage of that year’s race, but a more significant statistic was the temperature. Legend has it that in a café on the climb, the mercury in a thermometer exploded. Tom Simpson, riding for a weak British national team, was under pressure to perform well at the Tour. At the start of the Ventoux stage, he was lying in seventh overall. In Bédoin, at the foot of the climb,

Simpson dashed into a café and downed a glass of cognac. Eighteen kilometres later, three from the summit, he wobbled to a halt and collapsed. Put back on his bike by a spectator, he somehow managed to ride another kilometre and a half before collapsing again. This time, it was the end. The Tour doctor attempted to revive the unconscious Simpson, and he was airlifted to Avignon hospital, but was pronounced dead late 15

that afternoon. An autopsy was performed, and amphetamines found in his system–not enough to kill him, but enough to mask the true effort his body was making. More were found in his baggage. The Tour director, Jacques Goddet, described Simpson as “a great guy who was probably afraid of losing.” Mont Ventoux has almost claimed the lives of other riders in the Tour. In 1955, during another heat wave, Ferdi Kübler, winner of the 1950 Tour, attacked on the early slopes. French star Raphaël Géminiani warned him to be careful, but Kübler could be reckless. It was all part of his attacking style, but this time it cost him dearly. Suffering from heatstroke, delirious and foaming at the mouth, his riding became erratic. On the descent he crashed several times, and on the run-in to Avignon he had to stop to rest in a café. When he emerged and climbed back on his bike, he rode off the wrong way, back towards Ventoux. He finished the stage over 26 minutes down on the winner, Louison Bobet. That evening, the chastened Swiss told the press “Ferdi killed himself on the Ventoux.” He then

In the professional peloton, suffering is an art form; sacrifice a badge of honour. Nowhere do you suffer like Mont Ventoux. Kübler showed his arrogance and the mountain defeated him. Simpson was more afraid of losing the race than of the mountain itself, and the mountain turned out to be the greater foe. In this modern age, we are more arrogant than ever. We are still afraid, but afraid of random terrorist attacks, not a mountain that you can drive up, which has a café at the top. And yet Mont Ventoux retains a raw power, something primal to which one can’t help but respond. Perhaps its power lies in its ability to throw us back at ourselves. The mountain itself disappears, acting only as a reflection of our true selves, our bravery, our capacity for suffering. In his book Vélo, Paul Fournel writes: “The Ventoux has no it-self. It’s the greatest revelation of yourself. It simply returns your fatigue and fear. It has total knowledge of the shape you are in, your capacity for cycling happiness, and happiness in general. It’s yourself you’re climbing. If you don’t want to know, stay at the bottom.”

Paul Maunder is the author of The Wind At My Back: A Cycling Life This article has been adapted from Rouleur #63 Photographs: Offside/L’Equipe and Michael Blann

announced his retirement from his Tour de France career, effective immediately. One wonders what kind of madness went through his mind during that infernal experience.


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Jocelyn Hutton DOB: 1986 Nationality: Australia Country of residence: Australia Profession: Project Officer at the Ministry of Health in Australia Bike(s) Colnago c64, with disc brake "I also have a vintage Colnago steel frame at home that I built with a friend, which I enjoy riding on days off. It’s a classic." Number of Haute Route events completed Haute Route Pyrenees 2016, Haute Route Pyrenees 2018, Haute Route Alps 2019, Haute Route Oman 2019. 17

What inspired you to start cycling and how long have you been cycling? I wanted to start a sport that was social and fun. My aspiration initially was to meet new people and see new places. I needed a break from equestrian at the time and this was a way to do something new and refreshing, which would build on my current fitness. I started cycling in 2011. How did you first hear about Haute Route, and what was your first impression? An Australian friend who lives in London told me about the Haute Route in 2016 and invited me to come along. I had been to Europe several times to ride and was interested to do it in a new way, involving some fun racing, beautiful roads and stunning climbs. My first impression was of the friendly atmosphere, along with the organised precision required by the Haute Route to run such an event. The logistics of coordinating everything so that the riders had a seamless experience was so precise and positive. The Haute Route made it seem easy and everything ran so smoothly.

"Also, seeing familiar faces was fun and made the experience even better. " JOCELYN HUTTON


Can you describe what you do in training to prepare for an Haute Route? Training for such a big event is challenging, particularly in Australia where we don’t have the long climbs to practice on. Also, we train through the winter for the events in France in August (summer) so can only do our best to prepare for the hot conditions. I mix up training through the week on the ergo trainer with some longer rides before work. I also include some double days closer to the event (which means, a big morning on the road with an ergo session before dinner). In training I also make sure that I do big days on both days of the weekend, to simulate the challenge of back to back riding. These days often include efforts and up to 3000m vertical, where possible. I make sure to

devote about 6 months to the training block before the Haute Route. For me, it’s important to build my endurance base and practice my nutrition strategies in training, including pre-ride fueling, practising exactly how I will do it during the Haute Route. I find these events challenging enough on their own, so I try to make sure I practice everything I can in the lead up to eliminate room for errors. What was your first Haute Route like? My first Haute Route was a lot of fun, except that my bike didn’t arrive in Bilbao until the time trial day on Day 3. I borrowed bikes and shoes and nutrition from other competitors and Mavic. I received a lot of support and many offers of help, and the experience really just highlighted for me how amazing the cycling community can be. Thanks to loaned items, I was still able to race Days 1 and 2. What did you learn from completing your first (or most recent) Haute Route? My most recent Haute Route was the 2019 Haute Route Alps, and I had such a lot of fun during this event. It was my best yet, I was fit and could have some fun racing, and I had also put a lot of work into my mental fitness for the event. I enjoyed each day but mostly, I was able to have fun with the other racers and enjoy a lot of laughs on course. Also, seeing familiar faces was fun and made the experience even better. These are my friends of the Haute Route. How does your career riding horses and teaching dressage influence your cycling training, or vice versa? Dressage has certainly provided me an understanding of the discipline required to train and perform in sport. Also, I think I’m more tenacious as an athlete, and better

ready to combat setbacks as a result of my dressage background. I’m very used to horses being injured or moody or uncooperative, and so I am fairly resilient and can push on through anything most days. How does Haute Route fit into the goals you have as an athlete? Haute Route has become the absolute goal for me as an athlete. I used to train and race quite intensely as a triathlete, and I have found the Haute Route racing even harder for its back-to-back days and relentlessness. Also with my work, I really only have time for one sport. Conquering Haute Route events and racing them for fun has continued to develop my physical fitness and strength, as well as my mental fitness to remain tenacious and stubborn and consistent and positive through the race. This continues to test me as an athlete and helps me to keep pushing myself to be better. What Haute Route events are on your list for the rest of 2019 and 2020? Definitely Haute Route Alps again, and I’d love to do the Dolomites 3-day. I would also love to do Brazil and China. What would you tell someone interested in doing an Haute Route about your favourite aspects of an Haute Route? Do it, jump right in. You won’t regret it. It’s fun, challenging, rewarding and a great way to see amazing places and ride (almost) closed roads with great people. Describe Haute Route in one sentence Rewardingamazinginspiring. That one word?




Michael Latifi DOB: 1993 Nationality: Canadian Country of residence: Canada Profession: Full-Time Endurance Athlete Bike(s) Scott Plasma and Pinarello F10 Dogma and Cervelo P3 Number of Haute Route events completed 2019 Haute Route Dolomites, Haute Route Alpe d’Huez, Haute Route Pyrenees, Haute Route Alps 20

What inspired you to start cycling? I was living a very different life up until the end of 2016 and wanted something to scare me and challenge me both mentally and physically so I signed up for a full Ironman triathlon for 2017 without any previous cycling or swimming background, ever! How has cycling and triathlon changed your life? It has given me a purpose and I’m now striving to make a career out of it. Before, as I mentioned I was living a very different lifestyle. I was smoking a pack a day, and on most weekends while partying, 2 packs a day. I was over 50 pounds heavier. I was binge eating to numb my anxiety and depression. I was highly unmotivated. I was numbing myself with lots of toxic substances to just feel something out of life. At one point in my past, I tried to take my life. I truly had no vision or goals before I encountered this endurance sports lifestyle of cycling and triathlon, and it changed everything for me! You have been using social media to help inspire others. What message do you want people to take from your journey and use in their own lives? I want people to realize their own capabilities and the power of the mind. I think sometimes all people need is a superhero or someone to just make them believe what they’re capable of. There truly are no limits to what we can achieve. We just need to keep facing our fears and our weaknesses every day and make that become the new normal. I live by a motto David Goggins uses and that’s, “Do something every day that sucks and that is uncomfortable.” Callousing our minds daily is what truly allows us to live a life that most people don’t even know exists. We need to hold ourselves accountable and stop hiding

from our deepest fears. How does Haute Route fit into the goals you have as an athlete? Haute Route allows me to experience another level of cycling that is very different from the 70.3 and 140.6 Ironman racing. I am racing and riding with true roadies and learning how to handle a road bike, ride in a group, descend, and climb some really big climbs. You would never do over 4600m of climbing in an Ironman. Also, most of the people here just ride their bikes and don’t have to balance swimming and running. Knowing this, I’m up against better cyclists! They are pushing me each day to new and higher levels of performance on the bike! That was a big goal for me this year, to become a better, fitter and stronger cyclist! What was your first Haute Route like? In June of this year I spent my 26th birthday doing the Haute Route Dolomites and I didn’t know if I was going to make it through those 3-days. It was the first time I truly saw what climbing big mountains on a bike was like. It was a game changer for me, and I matured really quickly. It also gave me a wider perspective of the suffering I can endure on these big mountain climbs that are a main feature of Haute Route events. How did you prepare for the back-toback double of Haute Route Alps and Pyrenees? To be honest I didn’t really change my training structure too much. I was still swimming and running quite a bit as I had the Ironman 70.3 World Championships race in Nice the weekend after the finish of Haute Route Alps. I did do the Dolomites and Alpe d’Huez before the two 7-day events, but the 14 days of Pyrenees-Alps were a journey into the unknown for me! 21

I based myself in Girona up until the Pyrenees and Alps, and that helped conquer my fear of descending. To be honest I was never supposed to do the 14 days. I was only signed up for the Pyrenees up until mid-July. I wanted something that would scare me and challenge me, so I spontaneously added an extra 7-day of the Alps! It was a last minute thing, but I'm really glad I did it! What Haute Route events are on your list for the rest of 2019 and 2020? For the rest of this year no other Haute Route race only Ironman 70.3 World Championships and possibly a few other 70.3 distance races later in the year. For 2020 I’m thinking of doing the 7-day Alps and possibly some other 3-day events! What would you tell someone interested in doing an Haute Route about your favourite aspects of an Haute Route? You will see a whole other world you didn’t even know existed. The views and climbs you will conquer will remain with you forever. I would definitely tell them to do it. I would recommend doing the 14-day experience as it is the closest thing you’ll do to experiencing the Tour de France! Describe Haute Route in one sentence A journey you wish never ended!




Haute Route Alps 2011

Looking back to where it all started


An excited anticipation filled the air as riders lined up together at the start line on the shores of Geneva, ready for the first ever Haute Route event. No one knew what to expect, aside from a promise from Race Director, Jean-François Alcan, that.“ It will be one of the biggest challenges sportsmen and women face in their lives.” With 720 kilometres and 17,000 metres of climbing before the finish line at the ‘Promenade des Anglais’ in Nice, it wasn’t difficult to understand why it was going to be such a test. But, as with any sporting endeavor, riders knew it was all about breaking it down and taking each day at a time, starting with Stage One and the 109km course, featuring Col de la Colombière and Col des Aravis.

“It is magical and amazing to be here riding the infamous cols of the Alps. Big respect for the cols that we are taking on and of course, remembering the professional riders that have ridden up them” said Brian Nevin from Ireland. Just like the professional races, some riders were fighting it out for the esteemed leaders’ jerseys at the front of the race. American Benjamin Blaugrund and multiple World Mountain Biking champion Peter Pouly set the scene for future Haute Route events as they battled all the way to the finish line, with Benjamin finishing in 03:46:13, beating Peter by just one second to take the leaders jersey before heading into Stage 2.


For others, it was more of a social affair as riders enjoyed getting to know other cyclists from around the world, encouraging each other up the climbs in the challenging 30-degree C heat. With two and a half hours separating the first and last finishers, each rider was applauded across the finish line before celebrating together after a fantastic day on the bike. Formula 1 hero, Alain Prost, took the opportunity to swap his racing car for a racing bike, not wanting to miss out on the first stage of the Haute Route and one that would go down in history. When asked how he found the first day, he said, “I didn’t know the first climb, Col de la Colombière and the last few kilometres of that were very difficult. It was a difficult stage, but it was a good day for me. I was with a good group at the beginning but at the front they are going very fast.” As the first day came to a close in Megève, it was safe to say it had exceeded all expectations and, whilst nervous about how tough the rest of the week would be, riders couldn’t wait to get back on the start line for Stage 2 of Haute Route Alps 2011.



Asheville Following a successful debut event in 2018, a substantially larger field gathered in Asheville, North Carolina on May 18-20 for the second Haute Route Asheville. Weather conditions could not have been better for riders as they embarked on the three-day, 331-kilometre event, which included 6,421 metres of elevation gain. The mountain roads in western North Carolina are unique in the range of Haute Route events. Where the Alps, Pyrenees, and Dolomites feature very long climbs and descents, the climbs in the Blue Ridge Mountains are not as long, but they feature steep grades, tight twists and turns, and come in rapid succession. The event got off to a great start from Pack Square Park in downtown Asheville. After just a few kilometres to warm up, riders hit the first climb up Elk Mountain. This local favorite starts out steep, which led the peloton to split into groups pretty quickly. The front group included some heavy hitters, including local professional cyclists Kerry Werner Jr. of the Kona-Maxxis-Shimano team and John Murphy from Rally UHC Cycling.


Haute Route events in the United States have a slightly different competitive format compared to other events around the world. Riders compete on designated timed sections, but unlike Europe the timed sections in the US are shorter and farther apart. This calls for different strategic decisions, namely that riders regroup between sections and prepare to race all-out when they get to the next timed section. Stage 1 The opening stage included included a long timed section on the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway, a specially built scenic road cut into the high ridgelines along the Blue Ridge Mountains and surrounded by National Forest. By the time riders reached the finish line, Kerry Werner held a razor-thin lead over Jeff Mahin, a professional chef from San Diego, California, and Lesley McCormack had a commanding lead in the Women’s competition.

Once out of the Biltmore Estate, the racing started in earnest. Crabtree Gap was the first major challenge of the day. Although only 4 kilometres long, the ultra-steep pitches above 20% brought the leaders to a nearstandstill and forced several riders at the back of the peloton to walk. After Crabtree, the climbing continued with Betsy’s Gap and Doggett Gap. Though not as steep, these 5- to 6-kilometre back-to-back climbs proved a substantial challenge. By the finish line of Stage 2, however, the racing in the Men’s Solo competition was even closer than the day before. In the stage results, the top 5 finishers were separated by just 17 seconds. In the General Classification, Kerry Werner Jr. retained the leader’s jersey, but by just 88/100th of a second over Jeff Mahin! Stage 3

Following the customary Rider Briefing with Fergus Grant, riders dispersed into the heart of downtown Asheville for the evening. Known as a culinary hub, Asheville is home to renowned chefs, craft breweries and restaurants featuring international cuisine as well as regional favorites like southern barbeque and soul food.

The time trial took riders up Town Mountain, a local favorite that delivers panoramic views of downtown Asheville. A superlative effort by Werner secured his overall victory, and 21-year-old Australian Hamish Beadle overtook Mahin to claim second place overall. In the Women’s Solo competition, Lesley McCormack retained most of the huge lead she built on Stage 1 to win the overall by 13:35 over Nan Doyal in second place.

Stage 2

If you missed out on the event

The day began with an exclusive treat: a ride through the grounds of the historic Biltmore Estate. Built by George Vanderbilt II in the late 1800s and now a museum, the Biltmore is the largest privately owned home in the United States. The course for Stage 2 took riders by the main house, through the formal gardens, and along the French Broad River.

With 331 kilomtres and 6421 metres of climbing in their legs from three days of riding, riders strolled about a block from the host hotel for the Closing Ceremony at the Twisted Laurel. If you missed out on the event in 2019, make sure you join the peloton for the 2020 edition of Haute Route Asheville on May 15-17, 2020.





Visiting China is not just visiting a different country, but experiencing a different civilization, one that stretches from Siberian forests in the north to tropical jungles in the south. Every part of China can be a different country in itself, so distinct are the landscapes, culture and cuisine, but most foreign visitors are locked into the same well-worn tourist trail, and so get to experience a very small part of what China really is. A UNESCO World Heritage Site Qingcheng Mountain in Sichuan province, where Haute Route Qingcheng is held, is practically unknown to non-Chinese. Foreigners here are rarer than giant pandas, which are native to the cloud-shrouded mountains of Sichuan. Qingcheng is the very edge of the Han Chinese world–go a little further west and you are on the Tibetan Plateau. The multiple peaks of Qingcheng Mountain are studded with Taoist temples, some beyond ancient. It is said that the Yellow Emperor, the semi-mythical founder of the Chinese nation, came here to brush up on his Taosim more than 4,000 years ago. Now Qingcheng is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, together with the neighbouring city of Dujiangyan, where Haute Route Qingcheng starts. Dujiangyan’s irrigation and flood control system, built two thousand years ago, still functions.

newly paved roads loop though the verdant valleys. Qingcheng has become a popular holiday getaway. Visitors are plentiful in the restored ancient villages, and many hike to the temples on the tops of the peaks for a session of tai chi. Tai chi used to be the main sport of the masses in China, while the rest was the left to professional athletes, locked away in state-run sporting academies. With the rise in incomes, amateur sports have been booming, and cycling is one of them. Cycling boom in China Cycling clubs have sprung up in all Chinese cities, and bike touring has become the thing to do for adventurous Chinese, young and old. Brands have become sinicized– Specialized is called shan dian or lightning because of the logo. Haute Route is known as “gao di may lu”, which translates to “high and beautiful road”. Amateur races are appearing as well. Haute Route Qingcheng is breaking new ground in China, offering riders an incredible opportunity to visit Sichuan and ride on fully closed roads. Visitors to Qingcheng will experience the “real” China, raw and undiscovered by most tourists, both unimaginably ancient and staggeringly modern.

A popular holiday getaway While rooted in ancient history, things in Qincheng are not stuck in the times of the Yellow Emperor. The state-of-the-art bullet train can take you from the nearby metropolis of Chengdu to Dujiangyan, and 29


haute route alpe d'huez top 3s

Male 1. Ruari Grant, 6h39m35s 2. Philippe Béchet, +17m37s 3. Martin Palmer, +22m25s

Duo Male 1. Team Koalas, 7h43m12s 2. Aldapa Orio, +45m28s 3. Blackspokes RT, +57m39s

Female 1. Rebecca Johnson, 8h52m34s 2. Gretchen Miller, +08m41s 3. Ingrid Saupstad, +32m20s

Duo Mixed 1. Fitness Maréchal, 9h51m07s 2. Watts a la Lox, +52m57s

haute route norway top 3s

Male 1. Filip Eidsheim, 7h47m01s 2. Timothy Harris, +04m07s 3. Bence Szuromi, +06m40s Female 1. Kristin Sønnesyn, 8h07m47s 2. Emma Dyrhovden, +04m35s 3. Mona Kristiansen, +37m54s


Duo Male 1. Snowgoats, 9h33m46s Duo Mixed 1. Bike & Run Imst, 8h42m03s 2. Team Yorkshire, +13m40s 3. Eco Team Ne Jetez Plus, + 1h05m10s

haute route pyrenees top 3s

Male 1. Carlo Fino, 19h15m30s 2. Pierre Carlet, +14m58s 3. Ibon Zugasti, +26m52s Female 1. Georgia Perry, 23h56m03s 2. Alisha Myers, +24m00s 3. Wynnie Fung, +2h18m19s

Duo Male 1. Carina Brao Caffe, 20h55m34s 2. Team Koalas, +18m07s Duo Mixed 1. BWCC Venom, 24h38m31s 2. Team Two Tyred Toveys, +3h57m46s 3. Asdourian, +6h37m36s

haute route alps top 3s

Male 1. Ruari Grant, 21h03m57s 2. Guillaume Bourgeois, +2m37s 3. Damien Jeanjean, +22m54s

Duo Male 1. Team Koalas, 25h06m56s 2. Fratelli, +2h10m20s 3. Courchevel Sports Outdoor, +3h25m13s

Female 1. Linda Farczadi, 26h03m39s 2. Catherine Greves, +53m6s 3. Valeria Ciarnuto, +58m43s

Duo Mixed 1. Donosti, 33h00m23s 2. CCMG, +5h25m20s

haute route double crown

Male 1. John Thomas, 42h50m12s 2. Louis-Paul Niemerich, +54m47s 3. Kelly Jablonski, +1h26m21s

- pyrenees + alps top 3s

Female 1. Wynnie Fung, 55h11m29s 2. Amandine Malardeau, +5h01m23s 3. Enya Elswood, +7h57m11




What inspired you to create À BLOC beer? À BLOC started out of a passion for cycling and beer. I’ve been riding since I was a kid. Since the early 1990s, when cycling was not as popular as it is now, we would go to Mt Ventoux every year with a group of friends. We would all train for it for months, ride up and all go ‘à BLOC’, (a French cycling term for riding flat out) but we always waited for each other at the top and celebrate our achievements afterwards in the bar. It was during one of those trips that my co-founder Martijn Snelder and I decided we deserve better than a mainstream French industrial beer as a reward for our self-proclaimed epic efforts! À BLOC has a unique flavour profile for a beer (less sweet, more crisp). What was your goal in creating the flavor for À BLOC beer? It took us eight months to develop and brew the first batch of what we initially called “Grimpeur”. The recipe has been reverse engineered to be the most refreshing postride beer you can have. The taste profile we were aiming for was pretty specific. The beer clearly needed to be crisp and refreshing. It needed to taste and smell fresh like an IPA but be as easy to drink as a classic pilsner and as thirst quenching as a German Hefeweizen. It also needed to have some sort of ‘isotonic’ properties to aid recovery, so we added Alpine Minerals making À BLOC the perfect beer for after a ride. We jokingly call it a naturally isotonic hops-based sports recovery drink! Was there a reason you chose to brew an IPA for À BLOC instead of another type of beer? Are there aspects of an IPA that are better suited to the vision you had for À BLOC? We currently have three beers: a 1.2%

Ultralight IPA, a 2.9% Session Blonde and a 4.9% Natural Blonde. They’re all crisp and refreshing, they all taste best when cold, and they’re all enjoyed best with friends! Your website makes a point of emphasizing the minerals that go into À BLOC. Why are the minerals important for the beer? How do they affect the taste, and why don’t other brewers incorporate minerals? The addition of minerals affects the fermentation process, so one has to be careful as to the moment and the quantity and the type of the minerals added. We’ve added pure minerals from underneath the highest peaks of the Alps. Alpine Minerals improve the osmotic quality of the beer, aid replenishing the body’s lost minerals, and help deliver the unique refreshing taste of À BLOC. The minerals we use have been preserved in the heart of the rock for 200 million years in its original purity. At that time, the land that would become the Alps of today was completely covered by the sea. When it receded, the minerals remained trapped in the rock of the Alps, perfectly pure and protected from pollution. What are the important differences people should understand between À BLOC and other ultralight beers (Michelob Ultra in the U.S., for instance)? With À BLOC Ultralight IPA, we have made the ultimate sports beer—low in alcohol, low in calories, rich in minerals. A craft beer made for people who want to stay lean and fit. People who want to be active every day. À BLOC Ultralight IPA has a hop profile that is inspired by much higher alcohol India Pale Ale beers. It tastes like a true craft beer, refreshing, but with only 1.2% alcohol, it's low 33

in alcohol. And with only 13 kCal per 100 ml it is also ultra low in calories (about ¼ of a regular beer and about ½ of a regular alcohol free beer). You have an interesting business model for a beer company. Rather than have your own brewery, you created the recipe and produce the beer locally in other breweries. Can you tell people what makes À BLOC a different kind of beer company? With À BLOC, we've created a craft beer concept that overcomes the scalability challenges of traditional craft beers. We’ve developed our own recipes, that we brew locally with selected partner breweries, resulting in better quality beer and reduced transportation for a better planet. Why do you think a post-ride beer has become such an important tradition within cycling and other sports? Beer and cycling go back a long long way! Look at the pictures from the pro peloton in the 1930s and 1950s. They would drink beer after the ride like they currently drink soft drinks! Remember Eddie Merckx? He and his teammates were known for drinking beer in the 1970s! We believe that cycling is more than riding hard on a bike. We believe that sports achievements always deserve to be celebrated, preferably with friends. Getting the best out of yourself and inspiring others to do the same, living the adventure and sharing experiences with others is the basis of everything we do. And we cannot think of a better place to share stories than at the bar! In your view, what makes Haute Route riders a good fit with À BLOC? Haute Route delivers events that are the 34

unparalleled professional experience for cyclists. À BLOC is the ultimate sports beer. Made for people who want to be fit and fast. People who want to push boundaries, tackle the most daring challenges, and celebrate their achievements with likeminded people. This is where À BLOC meets Haute Route. Haute Route offers incredible riding in the most iconic cycling locations worldwide, with pro-like support and incredible services both on and off the bike. We are very proud that the Haute Route has chosen À BLOC as preferred supplier of its post-ride refreshments for a selection of excellent rides in Europe. What was your personal experience at an Haute Route like? Martijn and I rode Haute Route Alps in 2014. It was the toughest and most glorious experience on the bike ever! Is there a story behind the À BLOC Peugeot? We call her “la jeune femme” (the young lady). At almost 40 she’s already at a respectable age, but still looking gorgeous and still going strong! We’ve almost lost her a couple of years ago when she got so excited that her wiring caught fire but luckily we got her back and she’s going wherever we go. And then there’s her horn. Have you heard it? Ou la la!

"We decided we deserve better than a mainstream French industrial beer after our epic efforts!"

Profile founders of À BLOC

Martijn Snelder Age: 48 Bikes: Opera Super leonardo Kilometres per Year: 5,000 Favourite climb: Mont Ventoux Favourite classic: Paris - Roubaix Best cycling event: Battle of LeMond and Fignon in Tour of 1989 Favourite riders: 1. Eddy Merckx, 2. Fausto Coppi, 3. Wim van Est

Daan van Well Age: 45 Bikes: Ritte ACE Tricolore Kilometres per Year: 7,000 Favourite climb: St. Gotthard Pass Favourite classic: Strada Bianche Best cycling event: Red Hook Crits Favourite riders: 1. Mario Cipollini, 2. Tim KrabĂŠ, 3. Mathieu van der Poel



By Fergus Grant Long before I was the bloke calling your name at the finish line and telling jokes at the Rider Briefings, I was on the bike as the original Lanterne Rouge for multiple 7-day Haute Route events. The real Lanterne Rouge in a pro race is, of course, the rider with the slowest overall GC time; but not in the Haute Route. My mission–and the mission of all subsequent Lanterne Rouges­–was to be at the back of the pack helping to encourage and motivate the riders who are either having a bad day or maybe have not put in quite as much training as they would have liked. The aim is to try to keep people going when they might be otherwise tempted to rip off their number and get in the balai or sweeper bus. Over the three years I spent as Lanterne Rouge, I learned a few tricks that riders at the back of the peloton can use to keep their spirits up, beat the time cuts, and have a great experience. Start eating and drinking early While the stage winners might finish an Haute Route stage in three hours, riders at the back could be on the bike for six hours, sometimes longer. Steady progress is the name of the game, and that means steady fueling. The mornings may be cool, but the longer your day will be, the more important it is to never get behind on hydration or nutrition. Expect to have ups and downs Rebecca Rusch, 7-time World Champion and winner of several of the longest 36

cycling events in the United States, said of endurance racing, “There will be times when you feel great and times when you feel terrible and want to quit. Neither will last long.” As Lanterne Rouge, I saw this play out every day. Riders who stayed on the bike and finished were those who never let the low points define their day. Work together Gathering riders into groups was one of my main roles in the latter portions of Haute Route stages. It’s not that riders at the back don’t understand the benefit of riding in a group; it’s that the climbs create big gaps between isolated riders. Feed stations are a good place to regroup, or the bottom of a descent to account for varying comfort levels for going downhill. Don’t underestimate the weather Many times, the riders at the front of the peloton get to the finish early enough to beat afternoon showers common in the mountains. The back of the peloton is often not so fortunate. Anyone riding in the mountains in the afternoon should be prepared for rain. It may seem silly when it turns out to be unnecessary, but if it starts pouring at the top of the Col de la Madeleine, it will be you who has the last laugh. Keep moving One way to reach the finish line faster and stay ahead of the time cuts is to reduce the time you spend standing still. You absolutely should stop at feed stations to refuel and regroup, but don’t stay too long. Fifteen minutes per feed station, times four, costs you a whole hour.

Accept and give encouragement Perhaps the most important lesson I learned as Lanterne Rouge was how influential a kind word can be. Encouraging riders was a huge part of my role on the bike, but I was always impressed by how much encouragement riders gave each other. You never know when a single sentence is all it takes to reenergize a tired soul. The back of the peloton may be where riders are digging the deepest, but it’s also the happiest, most supportive place in the pack. So, if you’re considering an Haute Route but worry you might be at the back of the pack, don’t let that stop you. The Lanterne Rouge will be there to tell bad jokes and keep you going. 37


Haute Route Oman


Haute Route Asheville


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 Boulder


Haute Route Ventoux


Haute Route Qingcheng


Haute Route Mexico

Valle de Bravo

6-8 March 15-17 May

12-14 June 3-5 July

22-28 August

30 August-5 September 11-13 September

18-20 September 2-4 October

16-18 October 16-18 October