T R A I N I N G G U I D E 2 017
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IMPERFECT ROADS AND LONG HOURS IN THE SADDLE HAVE MET THEIR MATCH
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TAG HEUER OFFICIAL TIMEKEEPER OF HAUTE ROUTE
dear haute route riders past, present and future
t gives me great pleasure to welcome you to the
multi-stage competitive riding in some of the world’s
2017 Rider’s Guide and the first edition of this
most iconic cycling terrain when you, our riders, are
annual companion to all our Haute Route events that
treated like professionals on the road and off it – is
has been produced and delivered entirely digitally.
continuing to prove its global appeal.
As a result this year’s Guide has the scope to go into
I would like to wish you all the very best in your
far more detail than in previous years and, we think
training and preparation. The whole Haute Route
you will agree, it is now a comprehensive package
team is looking forward to welcoming you this summer
that looks in greater depth than ever before at each
whether it be in the French Pyrenees or Alps for seven
stage of each Haute Route event, at preparation and
days of cycling or three days, or in Austria and Italy
training, at riding technique, at nutrition, logistics and
for the Haute Route Dolomites or in the United Sates.
all the other aspects of your build-up to the Haute We know how many hours you guys put in on the road
Route this year.
and on your indoor trainers and we hope this Guide The Guide is delivered as we continue to expand the
offers you both encouragement and useful advice on
Haute Route portfolio of events on top of the original
your 2017 Haute Route journey.
core trio – the Haute Route Alps, Haute Route Pyrenees
and Haute Route Dolomites.
Haute Route Event Director This year there are three new events to savour – the three-day Haute Route Alpe d’Huez and Haute Route Ventoux in France, and the inaugural Mavic Haute Route Rockies in Colorado. Alongside these we are also conducting a test event this summer for the first ever Maserati Haute Route Norway, a third three-day event that we will be launching in 2018. The Haute Route is the pinnacle event in amateur cycling. It challenges amateur riders like no other event and its signature proposition – timed and ranked
contents training for the haute route
the experience locker
A day in the life of an Haute Route rider
Haute Route roadcraft
Getting the best out of you and the event
Tackling the Haute Route Top-10 tips on training, preparation,
equipment and logistics
Fuelling for the mountains
Chris Boardman on the mental challenge of the mountains
Haute Route Rider Profiles Competing at the front: Brooke Mead
The art of the taper How to ease off before the start
In the bunch The skills and techniques of group riding
The mid-peloton rider: Petri Karvinen
At the back: Karolina Ornstedt
How to do it safely with Stephane Jacquin
The Haute Route for riders from the
Why not raise money for a great cause
Rockies with Colby Pearce
54 58 52
Team Type 1
Gravel riding A key skill for the Mavic Haute Route
Looking north Southern Hemisphere
while riding the Haute Route?
Stuff What to bring on the Haute Route
Dealing with extremes Marvin Faure on the challenge of heat, cold and altitude
32 the haute route 2017 courses
The Individual Time Trial
How to prepare your body for the Haute Route Top tips from Velophysio
Your stage-by-stage guide to all the Haute Route events in 2017 Mavic Haute Route Rockies Haute Route Alpe dâ€™Huez
Haute Route Pyrenees Haute Route Alps
Basic bike maintenance with Maxime Ruphy of Mavic
Haute Route Dolomites
Haute Route Ventoux
74 90 98 114 130 146
the road to success is published by OC
follow the haute route
Sport, a global sports marketing company
specialising in sailing, cycling and running events.
STRAVA: STRAVA.COM/CLUBS/7986 YOUTUBE: YOUTUBE.COM/HAUTEROUTETV
editorial director ED GORMAN editor CORALIE BATTE design TRISTAN STUBBINGS, CASEY BYRNE contributors ROSS WILLIAMS, ED GORMAN,
TWITTER: TWITTER.COM/HAUTE_ROUTE FACEBOOK: FACEBOOK.COM/CYCLINGHAUTEROUTE INSTAGRAM: INSTAGRAM.COM/HAUTE_ROUTE
STEPHANE JACQUIN, OLIVIER DULAURENT, MARVIN
FAURE, COLBY PEARCE, MAXIME RUPHY
copyright OC SPORT
HAUTE ROUTE RIDERâ€™S HOTLINE: +41 21641 4399
training for the haute route 8
of an haute route rider
"pedal, pedal, pedal. it's wh through some of the mos 5:00
The alarm goes off two and a half hours before the
Arriving at the startline 20 minutes early gives you
start of the stage; time to switch into gear and get
plenty of time to drop your day-bag at the truck,
ready for the ride ahead.
chat with your companions and head to Mavic if your bike needs any small adjustments. An espresso
(or four) from the CaféPod truck is always a good
The first competitive element of the day comes
idea, especially later in the week.
at breakfast. How much food can you fit in your stomach before getting on the bike? Looking around
you can tell the experienced riders from the newbies
Once you’re in the start pen the flag can’t be
by the volume of food on their plates. The key
dropped quickly enough; the only thing on your
element to focus on at breakfast is slow-releasing
mind is riding and conquering the stage ahead.
carbohydrates (eg porridge and fresh fruit) that will
The first tentative pedal strokes indicate how well
keep you fuelled for the day in the saddle. Coffee
you have recovered and how the day is likely to
is the drink of choice for most, alongside water to
ensure you remain hydrated.
7:30 – 12:00/16:00
Pedal, pedal, pedal. It’s what you are here for,
Back in your room it’s time to pack up, get dressed
cycling through some of the most famous cols in
and stretch any sore muscles before getting on the
bike. Checking over details of the stage in the roadbook is an option to pass the time if you’re unable
Managing your effort and nutrition everyday is
to lie back in bed for a bit more shut-eye.
vital because of the multi-day nature of the event. If you go too deep on one day you will pay for it
later in the week. Same goes for nutrition; going
Fill your pockets with food and your bidons with
hungry one day can have an impact a few days
water on your way out the door; riding on empty
later. There are multiple feed stations on every stage
is never an option. Once the travel bag has been
with everything you need (sweet, savoury, liquid,
dropped at reception and day-bag slung over the
solid, whole foods, water and coke) so make the
shoulder it’s finally time to head to the start.
most of these to keep your stores topped up. Feed
hat you are here for, cycling st famous cols in the world" station etiquette is important as well; leaning your
briefing that follows gives a not-to-be-missed insight
bike against the table (especially given there are
into the stage ahead, with details of the cols and
racks available) and stuffing your pockets until the
any potential safety hazards on the stage (i.e.
seams burst are both behaviours that are frowned
dangerous descents or busy intersections)
upon. Remember there are 400+ other riders in the
field as well.
Time for more food at the aperitif gathering which is
put on by the host town. Usually consisting of local
Crossing the finish line brings with it not only a sense
cheeses, hams and breads, it’s another opportunity
of accomplishment but a list of actions to maximise
to fuel up and tide you over before dinner.
your recovery and prepare for the following day.
19:30 – 21:00
Book your massage at the info point.
The final opportunity to eat comes at dinner. This
Pick up your day-bag and eat/drink your
is not only about refuelling, but also about sharing
recovery drink or bar.
good times with your fellow riders. Reviewing the
Get yourself down to the showers to freshen
stage gone by, analysing those ahead or talking
up before the massage.
about anything but cycling.
Lunch – time for another eating competition; refuelling is vital for recovery and putting your
body and mind in the best place for the stages
Back at the hotel you lay out your kit and food for
the following stage, pack your bags to save time in
Massage – 15 minutes to flush out the toxins.
the morning and stretch out any sore muscles.
Hotel – head to the hotel using the Haute
Chill out at the hotel, rest, sleep, stretch and
You click the light switch and fall asleep before the
recover for the next day.
room goes dark.
The prize giving rewards the winners on the day
The alarm goes off; time to do it all over again –
and coup de coeur rider from the stage. The
another glorious day on your bike awaits.
tackling the haute route top-10 tips for training, preparation, equipment & logistics
by alpine cols coaches marvin faure, olivier dulaurent and stephane jacquin. 12
training & preparation 1. do the training
5. learn to descend
Everybody knows that you have to get used to riding
There are 20,000m to climb on the Haute Route,
long distances, so few people come unprepared on
but also 20,000m to descend, often on narrow,
this score. But if you want to do well, you need to be
dangerous mountain roads with innumerable tight
a bit more specific. The stronger your legs, the more
corners. Without the skill that comes from hours of
power you can generate, the higher your FTP , the
practice, you will either lose a lot of time or be taking
faster you will climb, and the higher your VO2max,
serious risks. Practice, practice, practice (see tip No.
the less likely you are to be dropped.
3, Go to a Training Camp).
2. hire a coach
6. ride other sportives or Gran Fondos
The Haute Route is a big step up from one-day events
Sign up for as many other sportives as you can fit
and requires a different approach to preparation.
in. Look for events that are as similar as possible to
Whether you are challenging for a place on the
a stage of the Haute Route, especially in June and
podium or just hoping to finish, you are almost certain
July. You can also ride flatter events to build your
to do better with the help of a coach. Make sure your
experience at higher speeds, in bunch riding and
coach thoroughly understands the demands of stage
in managing changes in pace, but these are second
riding in the mountains.
priorities compared to the climbing.
3. go to a training camp
7. ride in a peloton
Join at least one training camp in the mountains,
Although you may have to do much of your specific
ideally in June or July. You will build skills, fitness and
training alone, grab every chance to ride fast in a
confidence, and get used to riding 6 (or 7) days in
peloton. Get used to riding close to others, to following
a row in the mountains. If you join the official Haute
the strongest wheels, and to descending close behind
Route training camp both the coaching team and some
the best descenders. Learn to take your turn on the
of the other participants have masses of Haute Route
front and feel the huge energy saving from tucking in
experience you can learn from.
snugly behind someone else.
4. don't over-train
8. get used to riding early in the morning
It is very easy to over-train when you are highly motivated
Most of the starts on the Haute Route are at 07:30.
by an event as challenging as the Haute Route. If you
Once or twice the start has even been as early as
fall into this trap, however, the consequences may be
06:30 (not in 2016). Even a 07:30 start means you
worse than under-training. Make sure that every 4th
need to be up at 05:00 to be sure you have enough
week (every 3rd week if you are over 50) is an easy
time to eat breakfast, prepare yourself and your
recovery week, in which you do no more than 50% of
belongings and get to the start-line in time. Better get
your usual volume, at low intensity.
used to it in advance!
9. test everything in advance
10. no magic bullets
Make sure you test everything you plan to use
There are no magic bullets and no secrets. At one
during the Haute Route beforehand. This obviously
level, a successful ride at the Haute Route depends
includes the bike, in its final configuration (wheels,
on your power to weight ratio. At another, it depends
tyres, cassette) as well as your personal equipment
on learning to avoid the hundreds of potential
(clothing, shoes, helmet, sunglasses) but also less
pitfalls. Do the training, build your experience, stay
obvious items such as sun and chamois cream and
away from magic bullets (such as the latest diet
everything you plan to eat and drink on the bike.
supplement) and you will be fine.
equiptment & logistics 1. bring the right bike
4. don't forget
The best bike for the Haute Route is one that is light,
Small items of equipment that are easy to forget
comfortable and fits you like a glove. If you’ve never
include your bike computer and its charger, heart
had a bike fit, now is the time. All routes include long
strap, spare tyres and inner tubes, tyre levers, a multi-
steep climbs: be sensible and fit a compact chainset
tool, a charger for your electronic transmission (if
(50/34) and a wide-range cassette (11-32). Service
applicable), a small clip-on mudguard, wet-wipes and
your bike before coming and replace the chain.
last but not least a spare derailleur hanger, which is
almost impossible to find in the mountains.
Carbon wheels can be dangerous on long descents. In
5. personal equipment
the dry they may be prone to over-heating, in the wet
Bring at least two pieces of all items of clothing.
they may brake poorly. Notable exceptions include
That way you will always have a spare if one is lost,
the new Mavic range, which we personally tested last
damaged or soaking wet (it is not always possible to
year and found remarkable. If you are not sure, leave
dry your clothing out overnight). Plan for temperatures
your favourite deep-section carbon hoops behind and
from to 0°C to 40°C, from freezing rain and sleet to
bring a set of light, stiff aluminium wheels.
blazing sun. Even in the summer, conditions in the
2. choose your wheels wisely
mountains can be like winter riding back home!
3. use a power meter
A power meter is not essential, but it can help you in
6. travelling with your bike
two ways: (1) to optimise your training, and thus come
Biarritz, Innsbruck and even Nice are small airports.
better prepared, and (2) to optimise your effort during
Experience shows that bikes often get left behind
the week, thus helping you to achieve the best possible
during flight changes at the big airports. Plan a
result. Be aware, however, that you must either hire a
long transfer time and to arrive two or three days in
coach or invest a lot of time yourself in order to make
advance. And if the bike doesn’t make it, no stress,
sense of the data.
you can always hire one from France Bike Rentals.
7. loosen up on arrival
9. join a team
After a long flight your legs will feel heavy and tired.
It can be surprisingly lonely on the Haute Route if you
If at all possible, set your bike up as soon as you
come alone. You will be placed in a team, but it is up
arrive and go out for a one-hour spin to loosen up.
to you to make something of it. The alternative is to
On registration day, go for a longer ride and include
go with a Tour Operator or join the Alpine Cols team,
enough speed work or climbing to begin sweating.
where you’ll benefit from pro-team support and a great base to relax and recover, right by the finish line.
8. take it easy on registration day Apart from the ride (mentioned above), get the
10. don't panic
formalities over and done with as quickly as possible
Things can and probably will go wrong, at the worst
and spend the rest of the day relaxing. Avoid the
possible moment, when you are wet, cold and tired.
temptation to hang about in the village or see the
If this happens, try to keep things in perspective.
local sights. Sit down or lie down as much as you
You are here to enjoy yourself and all the support
can and think through the incredible challenge that
staff are doing their best to make things work for
lies ahead. It’s time to clear your mind and focus on
everybody. The best antidote is laughter and a
the extraordinary Haute Route experience.
good sense of humour goes a long way!
on the road 1. no stress
3. think where you stop
Think things through the night before to avoid a last-
Many (but not all) the stages have a non-timed
minute panic. Find out where the start-line is, where
zone. Often this is a dangerous descent, sometimes
the breakfast room is and where you will have to leave
it is a busy town to cross. Manage your stops to
your bag. Lay out your stuff and pack your bag before
stop only in the non-timed zone, and then wait
going to sleep. Work out how long you need in the
before the timing mat for a group to form before
morning, then add a 15-minute safety margin before
you ride on. This simple strategy can save you a
setting your alarm.
lot of “official time”.
2. start slow
4. move on quickly at the summit
Everybody, yes, absolutely everybody, starts the first
Do not hang around on the summits! Maximum two
climb on the first day too fast. The more sensible ones
minutes, less in bad weather. The summit is usually
soon realise the error and back off before it’s too late.
the coldest, wettest and windiest place, so either stop
The majority ride the first day as if it were the only
to put on your jacket before you get there or stop
day. As a result they lose more time over the rest of the
after descending to a more sheltered point. If you
week than they gain the first day. Pace yourself: start
must pick up food or water, grab and go. Eat and
slow to finish fast!
drink lower down.
"never ride alone on the haute route. if you do, you are wasting a lot of energy." 5. stand up on the pedals
8. recovery: the first hour
During long mountain stages and especially on the
Recovery should start as soon as you cross
steeper slopes you should be standing up at least
the finish line. Re-hydration is the first priority,
15% of the time. Change gear to pedal at a lower
closely followed by taking some sort of recovery
cadence when you stand, so you maintain the same
snack or shake that is rich in easily assimilated
speed and heart rate. Practice this while climbing your
carbohydrates and protein. You can then book
local hills, sometimes at a low cadence, sometimes
your massage and take your shower before sitting
down to the rider’s meal.
6. ride in a group
9. recovery: afternoon and evening
This is particularly important on stages with long flats
Lie down as soon as you can and as much as you
or false flats. Never ride alone on the Haute Route.
can throughout the afternoon. Wear compression
If you do, you are wasting a lot of energy. Grab
socks (and shorts, if you have them). Use an electro-
every chance to share the load with other riders. Pay
stimulation device such as a Compex, if you have
attention at the feed stations as groups form, and go
one. Take advantage of the massage. Enjoy a good
with them. If you do find yourself alone, slow down
meal but don’t overdo it. Go easy on fatty foods
and join the next group.
7. stay concentrated
10. get a good night's sleep
Your safety depends on this. Accidents do happen
Remember to set the alarm (probably for 5am), go
on the Haute Route, usually from Stage 4 onwards.
to bed early and sleep should come naturally. If you
The cause is usually increasing fatigue leading to
will be sharing a room with someone you don’t know,
reduced vigilance and loss of concentration. Losing
bring a set of ear-plugs. There is nothing worse than
concentration when descending at 70km/h can have
being unable to sleep because your room-mate is
fatal consequences: don’t let it happen to you.
fuelling for the
haute route 18
iding the Haute Route requires you to expend
Fuelling can be broken down into three parts: before,
tremendous amounts of energy, especially on the
during and after the ride. Here we take you through
climbs. To sustain this over the duration of the event it
some of the key points with our official sports nutrition
is vital that you fuel appropriately.
three key principles of sports nutrition
Supply of the body with
Fuel for your muscles
Nutrition strategy to
optimise regeneration and help promote training adaptations
before the ride
have time you can lie back on your bed for a while
Eating a good meal before riding 100+km is vital,
before dressing and heading to the start line.
and anyone who has ridden an Haute Route can tell you that some of the most intense competition often
As a rule for pre-event meals, you should eat a low-fat,
comes at breakfast. The look on the hoteliers’ faces
carbohydrate-rich meal that is low in fibre and easy
as hoards of hungry cyclists descend on the buffet
at 5:30am is something to behold! After several days in the saddle, breakfast becomes all about
during the ride
consuming as many calories you physically can
Any cyclist will tell you that fuelling on the bike is an
before getting on the bike. Choosing your calories
important part of a successful and enjoyable ride.
wisely is important and you should be looking for
There are several key aspects you need to consider in
foods that provide a slow and steady release of
your nutrition whilst riding:
energy. Porridge oats, whole grain cereals and fresh fruits are popular, as well as eggs or an alternative
Digestion - Choose foods that you know you can
source of protein and the inevitable cyclists’ coffee.
digest easily and quickly; ideally you should test
Obviously you need to allow yourself time for
various strategies before the event. Some people
digestion, eating between 90 minutes and 2 hours
can deal with heavy loads of gels and bars; others
before the start of the stage is recommended. If you
prefer whole foods or homemade snack bars.
Macronutrient balance – Muscles rely on glucose
new nutrition strategies in training first, especially
for fuel, and on proteins and amino acids for
as factors such as training intensity and duration
recovery and growth. Feeding your muscles with
play a crucial role in tolerances.
both glucose and protein is vital for continued •
performance on the bike.
after the ride
Antioxidants – Consuming antioxidants will help
Recovery should be at the forefront of your thoughts
combat the oxidisation of muscle tissues during
as soon as you cross the finish line of any stage.
exercise, and also reduce swelling during
The 30-minute window after exercise is vital for
recovery. Many gels and energy bars contain
kick-starting the recovery process. Consume a
antioxidants for this purpose.
recovery drink or bar that is rich in protein and
Ease of consumption – Being able to eat regularly
carbohydrates. This will help minimise muscle
and in small amounts is vital. So choose foods
damage and dreaded DOMS (delayed onset muscle
that are easy to transport and that you can nibble
soreness) that could make the following stages a
on regularly and easily whilst riding. Fuelling
real challenge. After this, it is about consuming
shouldn’t be a chore, so don’t force yourself to
enough calories to replenish your body’s glycogen
eat foods that you don’t like.
stores and beginning to fuel for the following day.
Varied diet - To avoid becoming fed up with what
Rather than favouring one food over another,
you are eating, ensure you maintain a varied
we would recommend simply avoiding certain
diet of both sweet and savoury, solid and gel
foods i.e. spicy, acidic or fibre-rich food that can
energy sources. Eating regularly and topping up
cause digestion issues or stomach problems the
your stores consistently will allow you to avoid
following day. Eating suitable amounts of complex
resorting to stored sugars, and ultimately avoid
carbohydrates such as whole grain pasta, rice or
the dreaded bonk.
potatoes and proteins is the way to go. Remaining
Hydration – Hydration is possibly one of the
hydrated throughout, by keeping a water bottle with
most important factors for a successful Haute
you at all times is also vital to the recovery process.
reduces your capacity to exercise and thus ride
It is vitaly important that you give your body the
your bike. Drink regularly, taking small sips of
right nutrients in the right amounts directly after
water and electrolyte drinks at least every 20
exercise. The body needs carbohydrates to refill its
minutes. Knowing your sweat rate is also a good
glycogen stores, high-quality protein to repair the
idea to guide your hydration strategy.
damaged muscle tissue and to build new muscle tissue and fluid and electrolytes (especially sodium) for efficient rehydration.
Always start well hydrated. Drink at regular intervals. When you have finished, rehydrate to recover faster. Practicing your on-bike fuelling and
Fuelling for the Haute Route can be quite a puzzle,
hydration strategies is highly recommended before
but with the right mind-set and practice beforehand
riding the Haute Route. Practice long rides on back-
it can easily be solved. Everyone’s requirements are
to-back days to see how your body reacts. Do this
different, so don’t copy those around you; go out and
on a couple separate occasions to test different
practice beforehand and fine-tune a nutrition and
options and fine-tune your strategy for the event. Try
hydration strategy that you know you can rely on.
powerbar's top tips for fuelling on the haute route
before 3 - 4 hours
before 60 minutes
Easily digestible meal:
Pasta with low fat sauce (e.g. tomato sauce or low-fat
high in carbohydrates,
bolognese sauce). Rice with steamed carots and chicken
low in fat and fibre,
breast. Baked potato with low-fat herbed soft cheese.
combined with sufficient
Light vegetable soup with bread. Toast with honey or
fluid (5 - 7ml per
jam. Sandwiches with cold cuts or cheese. Easy to digest
kilogram of body weight
breakfast cereals, with milk, banana. Fruit-flavoured
buttermilk with banana. + Fluids.
Rice wafer. White bread with honey. Ripe banana
drinks or snacks with
+ 5 Electrolytes drink. Powerbar® ENERGIZE bar.
Powerbar® ENERGIZE WAFER. Powerbar® ISOMAX or ISOACTIVE drink. Powerbar® PERFORMANCE SMOOTHIE. Powerbar® NATURAL ENERGY CEREAL bar. + Fluids.
during Start drinking as soon as possible
Powerbar® ENERGIZE bar. Powerbar® ISOMAX
drinks that are rich
or ISOACTIVE drink. Powerbar® PERFORMANCE
SMOOTHIE. Powerbar® POWER GEL. Powerbar®
(30 - 90 grams of
POWER GEL SHOTS. + Fluids.
carbohydrate per hour is recommended) and contain sodium.
after Immediately after.
Drink and eat little and often (e.g. 150 - 200ml every 15 minutes).
Flavoured milk and dried fruits. Rice cakes with fruit-
carbohydrate per kg
flavoured buttermilk. Yoghurt with easy-to-digest
of body weight, plus
cereals, instant porridge oats. Semolina or rice
approx. 20 - 25g
pudding. Powerbar® RECOVERY drink with low-fat
protein and sufficient
milk. Powerbar® PROTEIN PLUS 30% bar. Powerbar®
fluids and electrolytes
PROTEINPLUS SPORTSMILK 250 ml + 1-2 handfuls
raisins. + Fluids.
tapering for the
being in top form for the haute route isn't only about doing the right training - it is also about getting the correct amount of rest. mastering the so-called 'taper' is something that takes practice, and it is individual to every rider. there is no 'one size fits all' recipe. the experts from wattbike have helped us compile some recommendations on how to taper for the haute route.
what is tapering?
also maintain a few key sessions at a high intensity
Tapering is the practice of reducing training in
to keep the engine ticking over. Factor into your rest
the lead-up to an important competition or event.
and recovery the time you will spend travelling to
This allows your body to recover, your muscles to
the event; it can be mentally and physically draining
recruit the benefits of your training and your mind
to travel across the world, so don’t hesitate to sleep
to feel fresh for the event. For endurance events
more upon your arrival and only take your bike out
like the Haute Route, tapering can start between
for a short spin. Remember you are better off being
two-to-four weeks before the event, depending on
fresher than more tired; the multi-day nature of the
event will be a challenge for everyone.
wattbike's top tips for tapering
Tapering has many benefits, as outlined above, but ultimately it is about reaching your peak level
of performance. This is achieved by accumulating
you train, but keep the intensity and duration the
the benefits of your training, resting and also eating
same. Be careful not to reduce your training too
appropriately for performance. When all of these
much; you should be aiming for one extra rest day
are combined they allow you to come to the start line
feeling fresh and ready to perform. Turning up to the
– Reduce the number on days on which
event over-trained, tired and mentally burnt-out is not
a good recipe for an enjoyable Haute Route.
training down to zone two and below. Do this in the
– Bring the intensity of your
final week to ensure your fitness levels don’t drop
how to taper
The art of tapering is in finding the right balance between volume, frequency and intensity. You need
to reduce the total distance you are cycling in the final
you’re riding each day; you should be aiming for
2-3 weeks before the event, take a few rest days, but
around a 50% reduction in miles.
– Reduce the number of miles
group riding a key skill on the haute route
nowing how to ride in a group is a key skill for
you’re able to dab your brakes when necessary.
all cyclists. Riding in the bunch allows you to
The same goes for getting out of the saddle, this can
travel faster and save energy in the process, a vital
be dangerous if you have someone on your wheel;
component for a successful Haute Route experience.
standing up means you lose momentum and they are likely to ride into your back wheel.
Riding in the slipstream, known as drafting, allows you to save up to 1/3rd of your power output.
let others know what is coming up
With riders taking turns on the front of the bunch,
When riding on the front of a bunch you are
everyone behind is pulled along at the same speed
responsible for the safety of the group, meaning you
and able to save energy before taking their turn on
must signal any hazards that are up ahead. This
includes but is not limited to: oncoming cars, parked cars, bollards, holes in the road, intersections,
If you are inexperienced at bunch riding, it is
animals, sharp turns, oil slicks, branches, glass etc.
important to know the etiquette that is associated
By telling people what to expect they are able to
with riding in a group in order to stay safe and
anticipate the movements of those around them and
avoid irritating your fellow riders. Read on below
keep riding safely.
for our tips and tricks.
stay one step ahead When sat in the middle of a group, remember to
It is a good idea to practice riding in a group before
keep an eye on the road ahead and not only the
coming to the Haute Route. Do this either by joining
wheel in front. Anticipating what’s to come can
a club run or taking part in a one-day sportive in
help you ride safely and more effectively. Don’t
your area. On your first group ride, try and stay
spit or clear your nose in the middle of a group.
towards the back and observe what goes on in front
This, and half-wheeling (unnecessarily pushing the
pace when sat on the front), is the best way to loose
a steady line at all times
friends in a group.
Once you’re in the group it’s vital to avoid sudden
think of others
movements from side to side, this is dangerous and
Overall the key takeaway is for you to treat others
could cause a crash. Always signal your intentions
the way you want to be treated by signaling
vocally and with a hand signal. Communication is
your intentions and riding in a smart manner to
vital to the success of a group; tell people where
maximise the safety and efficiency of the group.
you are moving and where you are positioned if
Remember, also, to encourage and help those
you see someone else moving in your direction.
around you, because the day will come when you
avoid hard braking
are the one struggling and you will welcome the gesture in return.
Sudden braking is to be avoided at all costs. Ride with your hands on the hoods or in the drops so that
Ride safe, and see you in the mountains.
stephane jacquin, alpine cols he Haute Route is rightly famous for its climbing.
in the winter, but it’s a location that means that
But every mountain pass climbed, whether it be
every time I get on a bike I am almost always going
in the Dolomites, the Pyrenees, Rockies or the Alps,
to face some downhill riding.
offers riders the inevitable thrill and challenges of the downhill.
What follows are my simple observations about how to get down the mountains safely on a racing bike
Some love downhill riding, some dread it and many
based on years of coaching and guiding.
learn to handle it by following simple coaching lessons that help them go down safely but competitively.
getting down in one piece and focusing on the road ahead
At one time or another I have been down just about
The most important thing is to reach the bottom in
every mountain in the Alps and Pyrenees used by
one piece – that is the main thing. It’s a simple point
the Haute Route and many more elsewhere and I
but it’s a good overall rule to keep in mind. There
have helped lots of riders master this part of the
is no point in taking unnecessary risks and when
challenge. Aged 41, I am based in the French ski
going downhill remember to look where you want to
resort of Courchevel where I work as a ski instructor
go; don’t look where you don’t want to go.
than looking at the person in front of you. If he takes
At most of the Haute Route summits there is a
the wrong line you stand a good chance of crashing
refreshment point. My advice is to stop there for just
long enough (don’t delay too long in bad weather), to drink, eat and put a rain jacket on. Don’t try to do
it like the pros on the Tour de France and eat during
Most of the Haute Route courses are on open roads
the descent – or put a jacket on during the descent
so cars (driving on the right) will be coming up. Try
– it’s ramping up the risk.
to overtake only when you are sure the road is wide enough and you can see a long way ahead to be
certain it is clear. If the guy in front is very slow, you
Try to use the drops on the downhill, not the hoods.
can overtake on the bend. But always overtake on
This gives you more control, better balance and a
the left-hand side, not on the right because the rider
lower centre of gravity. Once you have got used
in front will not expect to be passed on the right.
to this position you will wonder how you ever
the most common reason for people crashing on the downhill
descended on the hoods.
The most common reason for crashing is getting
Most of the power is with the front brake so you
too tired. You don’t pay enough attention, stop
need to balance the braking roughly 70/30 front/
concentrating, arrive at a corner too fast and then
back. You need to lose your speed before the bend
you crash. This is most likely after 3 or 4 days, when
because if you brake during the bend it is already
you have already done a lot of descending. Make
sure you stay alert!
wet weather descending
You need to keep a little bit of speed but not too
Try to brake earlier than in the dry and don’t lean
much and don’t be scared to lean your bike into the
your bike as much through the corner. Try braking
corner. Look as far around the bend as possible.
twice. The first time to dry the rims; the second time
Extend your inside knee to transfer your weight and
to scrub the speed. This is especially important with
develop better balance, then press on your outside
carbon-fibre rims. If it is really wet you can consider
leg and your inside arm and you will find the bike
lower tyre pressures for more grip. Try to keep
is locked in a stable way as you go through the
pedaling if you can, to help keep warm. Get the best
corner. Be careful of oncoming traffic and do not cut
gloves you can find to keep your fingers warm.
corners, especially left-hand bends.
going downhill with others take your own line
If you want to do well on the Haute Route, come to the Alps before the event to practice your downhill riding.
You can follow the guy in front only if you are 100%
We have noticed that a lot of people are good on the
sure he is good enough. Don’t stay too close to
climbs but are not used to the descents and struggle
someone you don’t know. It’s better to be a little bit
to ride fast and safely on the downhill parts of each
to one side and have a clear view ahead, rather
stage. Like any skill, practice makes perfect.
riding the inaugural mavic haute route rockies will offer a brand new challenge for haute route riders gravel roads. we spoke to haute route ambassador and colorado local, colby pearce, to get his insight into what it's like to ride on gravel.
hi colby, are you as excited as we are about the new mavic haute route rockies coming in june?
Dropped chains is the only other mechanical issue I
Hi guys, yes absolutely. I can’t wait to welcome the
is the same though for cobble riding and riding on
event in my backyard; everyone is going to love the
uneven paved roads.
can think of when it comes to riding on gravel, this
roads in Colorado!
what is the surface like when it rains?
great! And as you mention the roads, we wanted to ask you about the famous gravel roads. what's the surface like?
This depends on a few factors; heavy rain can turn the surface into a thick clay texture that can seriously slow you down. However, as the saying in Colorado
The surface is great; I love being able to mix it up
goes: “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five
with riding on paved road. In general, dirt roads ride
minutes”. Rainstorms rarely last for long periods
a bit slower than paved roads as there is a bit more
(touch wood!), so if the skies do open up, just gear
friction. You notice this mostly in the steeper sections
down and power through it.
and when there is more of a sandy texture rather
how hard does the gravel surface make it to ride uphill?
than hard packed dirt.
are you able to ride these roads on a standard road bike?
Gravel can make steep climbs challenging, but this is only an issue if you get out of the saddle and
Absolutely, all the roads on the Mavic Haute
lose traction on the rear wheel. The best way to
Route Rockies can be ridden on a standard road
negotiate these sections is to stay seated and grind
bike. However, do consider your equipment when
preparing your bike, most riders prefer a compact
what are your top tips for bike handling in descents? we know this is cause for concern for many European riders.
or semi-compact gearing setup and a slightly wider tyre than usual.
does the uneven road surface lead to more punctures? or increase the risk of any other mechanical issues?
Being conscious of technique is vital on all descents. I would strongly recommend people focus on the following basics:
This often depends on the rider. Inexperienced riders who aren’t used to riding on uneven surfaces
1. When cornering, focus your weight on the
may have more punctures as they learn to float
inside hand and outside foot. This helps lever
over the rough terrain. You can offset this by riding
the bike over and drive the tread into the dirt to
wider tyres with high pressures, and obviously
practice dirt riding in training as well. There is no ‘right answer’ when it comes to tyre pressures,
2. Angle the bike more than your body. This means
adjustments can be made to trade-off comfort and
you should push the handlebars slightly away from
traction. The mantra for riding on dirt is ‘heavy on
you and let the bike ‘dive’ into the corner. This
the pedals, light on the saddle’ – this allows the bike
requires practice and can feel unnatural to road
to float beneath you and avoids putting pressure
riders, but watch any experienced off-road rider and
on the tyres when passing over rocks/bumps/holes.
you will see this technique used.
"rain increases braking distance, so when you are on gravel don't hesitate to ride the brakes" 3. Fore-aft weight should be approximately 55%
the saddle each day. Consult a fitting specialist in your
Front and 45% Back, this helps you prevent the
area if you want personalised advice.
wheels from sliding out and needing Sagan-like bike handling skills to stay upright.
any final recommendations for riders riding in the rockies for the first time?
4. Float over the saddle by focusing your weight on
The smart play for the Rockies event is to go for
your feet and hands. This helps you be responsive to
wider tyres, 25mm or even a 28mm if your bike
the surface beneath you.
has the clearance. Don’t use the super-lite tyres the pros use in flat road races; try and get an armoured
5. Always think ahead. Anticipating what is to
tyre casing if you can. Then obviously there is also
come will help you adjust your speed and line to the
the weather; on any given day you can expect
conditions around you.
everything from sunburn to hypothermia. Bear in mind the high altitude of the climbs, the unpredictable
6. Adjust your braking distances to the weather. Rain
weather means you have to be ready for anything.
obviously increases braking distance, so when you
Always ride with a jacket and gloves in your pockets,
are on gravel don’t hesitate to ‘ride the brakes’ a little
these can prove invaluable and save your ride if the
to help clear the water from your rims. There is no risk
weather turns sour.
of overheating here due to the water on the rims.
usually. I would suggest you to go with a set-up that
thanks colby, i think we have covered enough ground here to quash any concerns inexperienced gravel riders may have. looking forward to seeing you in boulder on the 24th of june.
allows you to remain comfortable for the 4-6 hours in
Thanks guys, see you in June!
would you suggest any modifications to bike set-up to accommodate the gravel roads? This depends on how aggressive your bike set-up is
marvin faure 32
he Haute Route is an extreme event. You will
Take two large bottles with you on the bike: this is not
ride seven timed, ranked stages through the
the moment to try to save weight. Even if you don’t feel
mountains in seven days, covering 900km and
thirsty, make sure you drink at least one large bottle
climbing over 20,000m. Very few cyclists ride this
per hour, some of which should be an electrolyte mix
much in a month, still less in a week. If you complete
to replace the salts you lose through sweat. Some
one of the Haute Route events you have joined the
people fill one bottle with energy drink and the other
elite in amateur cycling.
with electrolytes, others prefer plain water to the energy drink (it is certainly better for pouring on your
The challenge comes not only from the distance to ride
head!). You can set an alarm on your Garmin to ring
and the mountains to climb, but also, and perhaps
at regular intervals to remind you to drink.
especially, from the extreme conditions you may meet. There are three types of extreme conditions to prepare
As soon as you arrive, head to the nearest source
for: heat, cold and altitude. If you live in a temperate
of water and drink. Your goal should be to urinate
region without any high mountains you will rarely, if
regularly through the rest of the day.
ever, encounter these conditions at home.
2. protect your body
The thinner air at altitude means a higher risk of
The Haute Route typically starts each morning at
sunburn. Use a top-quality, non-oily sun cream on all
07:30, when the temperature is still cool, even cold
exposed parts of your body, not forgetting your neck
if we have been sleeping at altitude. The quickest
and chest if you are likely to unzip your jersey. Avoid
riders tend to finish around 12h30 to 1pm, and the
your forehead, however, you don’t want sun cream in
Lanterne Rouge usually comes in between 3h30
your eyes once you start sweating.
and 5pm. The heat and extensive sweating will also put a high This means that you will be on the road during the
stress on your saddle area. Use a chamois cream
hottest hours of the day. In the full sun the temperature
and shower as soon as possible on arrival.
in the valleys can reach 50°C (39°C in the shade in Saint-Lary this summer), and while the temperature
3. use water to cool down
drops with altitude it can still be as much as 25°C
Your body’s main means to stay cool when
on the summits. Some of the climbs receive the full
exercising on a hot day is through evaporation of
force of the sun, with no shade. The road and the
sweat. Unfortunately, there’s not enough movement
rock face absorb the heat and reflect it back at you,
of air for this to work well on a climb, so you have
creating heat like a furnace. In these conditions there
to look for other means. If you are sure you have
is a serious risk of heatstroke. Here are five tips to
enough, or can easily get some more, pour water
help you keep riding in these conditions:
over your head and upper body. Some people suffer terribly from “hot-foot”, where your feet
1. drink, drink and drink again
swell and the resulting nerve restriction can
The biggest risk is dehydration. Begin by drinking
cause intense pain. Stopping by a stream or a
more than you normally would the previous day, the
fountain and immersing your feet, shoes and all, can
night before and also at breakfast.
4. back off the power
1. no delay: get over and down aSAP
It may seem obvious, but the harder you work, the
We are always amazed by the number of people
more heat your muscles produce and the harder it
who hang around on the summit in near-freezing
is for your body to regulate its core temperature.
conditions. You will arrive feeling warm from the
Backing off the power is sometimes the only option.
climb: it is essential to lock that warmth in and keep it
Don’t wait until you’ve reached the critical point
as long as possible as you descend. For your body, it
where you are already dehydrated, but choose
is a race against the clock where every second counts.
deliberately to back off your power by 15-20W (or your heart-rate by 5-10bpm). This could make all
The #1 rule: only stop for the absolute minimum time
the difference between you arriving at the summit
necessary. The only reason to stop is to put on extra
in reasonable condition and you losing 10 or 15
clothes. Depending on the topology of the summit,
minutes through having to stop.
it may be better to stop 500m or 1km before the summit to dress up, or, if you forget, to go on over and
5. training tips
descend the first kilometre or so to find relative shelter
The more you can prepare your body for competitive
from the wind and rain before stopping. Spin your
conditions, the better you will do at the event itself.
legs on the way down to keep generating warmth.
Don’t hesitate to do your training rides at the hottest time of the day, and experiment with different
2. bring the right clothes
hydration and nutrition strategies to see what works
This is not the time to skimp on costs. Buy two sets of
best for you.
the best quality wet and cold weather gear you can afford (there’s nothing worse than having to dress in
Book yourself on a training camp in the mountains
wet clothes at 7am). As a bare minimum you need:
with people that understand the demands of the Haute Route. This is a fast-track to picking up the
A long-sleeved, waterproof jacket
experience and myriads of invaluable tips from
other riders as well as boosting your skills, fitness
A skull cap
A scarf or a buff for your neck
extreme cold and rain
Long-fingered gloves (neoprene are best for
In the mountains, extreme cold and rain tend to go
when it’s raining in the mountains)
together. Warm rain in the valley becomes colder
Shoe covers (neoprene)
and colder as you climb, at the same time as the wind gets stronger. During the past three years on
Other things to consider include how warm the jacket
the Haute Route we have occasionally experienced
should be. Warm jackets are usually impossible to
horizontal rain on the summits above 2,000m and
take off and roll up in a back pocket, so although
accompanying temperatures only just above zero. The
ideal for the descent they are too hot for the climb. A
wind-chill factor makes this far worse. It is perfectly
good option can be a jacket with removable sleeves,
possible to survive and finish the stage under these
or simply a warm gilet that you can open on the climb.
conditions but you must be properly equipped and
As always in the mountains, the challenge is the
avoid the traps.
temperature difference between the valleys and the
"cold, driving rain leads very quickly to frozen hands, poor visibility and a numb brain" summits. You will spend far more time in the valley
4. stay lucid
and climbing (i.e. relatively warm) than you will on the
Cold, driving rain leads very quickly to frozen hands,
summit or descending. This means you have to dress
poor visibility and a numb brain. Hardly the best
for the former and carry extra clothes to put on for the
conditions in which to descend a steep, wet road.
latter, otherwise you will arrive at the top drenched
Staying lucid is essential, and another reason for
getting over and down without delay. Your braking distances will be much longer than normal and your
3. carry multiple layers
reaction times will be slower: anticipation becomes
The best way to keep adapting your clothes to stay
even more important. Keep your speed down – this
at the right temperature is through adding and
has the added benefit of reducing the wind-chill factor
removing layers. Arm warmers, leg warmers, skull
– and brake well before the bends.
caps, waterproof jackets, gilets etc. can all be put on and taken off again as you progress up and down the
If you are using carbon wheels, be aware that their
climbs. The challenge then becomes carrying all this
braking efficiency may be seriously reduced in the
extra kit. There are several possible solutions:
rain (this is not true of all carbon wheels). Test them in the rain before you come to the mountains.
Wear two jerseys and take advantage of
the extra pockets
You probably won’t feel like it, but it is just as
Wear a small back-pack
important to eat and drink as it is under more
Fit a saddle or handle-bar bag to your
clement conditions, if not more so. The cold and wet
bike (the purists won’t approve, but hey,
will mean that you are burning additional calories
it’s your bike)
just to stay warm, and you will lose plenty of water
Sign up for Race Services from Alpine Cols
through sweat and breathing. Force yourself to
and have access to your extra clothes at the
drink at least 500ml and to take a gel or an energy
bar every hour.
5. training tips
The practical consequences are that if you are
There’s only one way to get comfortable riding in
riding on perceived effort only, you should expect
cold, wet weather. You know the answer. The more
it to feel harder as you climb higher. Allow your
you make it normal to ride, whatever the weather,
speed to drop progressively. If you are using a heart
the easier you will find it if the worst comes to the
rate monitor you should reduce your effort in order
worst during the Haute Route. So get out on your
to remain in the same heart-rate zone, usually near
bike on some of those wet and windy days and
the upper end of Zone 3 (tempo).
practise riding comfortably in difficult conditions. If you are using a power meter and climbing to a We certainly don’t wish for rain during an Alpine
specific number, you should mentally adjust this
Cols training camp, but it doesn’t change our plans.
number down progressively as you approach and
We still go out and ride the same mountains. It helps
go above 2,000m. As a rule of thumb, reduce it by
to have a following car in support, of course, but
10% between 1,500m and 2,000m and by another
the key is to get out there and build your experience
5% as you approach the summits at 2,400m+.
in all conditions.
Acclimatisation takes a long time. The research shows
Altitude sickness as such is not a problem at the
that fully acclimatised athletes lose only 50% of the
altitude we will reach during the Haute Route in
aerobic capacity lost by non-acclimatised athletes, but
Europe. Only one climb in the Pyrenees is above
unfortunately it takes at least a month of sleeping and
2,000m, the Tourmalet (2,117m). The highest climb
training at altitude to achieve this. Few of us participating
this year is the col du Granon (2,413m) in the Alps
in the Haute Route will have the opportunity to do this
or the Timmesljoch (2,474m) in the Dolomites. This
(although it might help explain why Alpine Cols coach
is not high enough to suffer from the debilitating
Stephane is such a strong cyclist: he lives the year
headaches, dizziness, upset stomach and fatigue
round at 1,800m in Courchevel).
that climbers encounter in the Himalayas, for example. In the Rockies we will spend the majority
The best advice we can give is to come to the
of the week around the 2,000m mark, with several
mountains as often as possible. It probably won’t
cols even taking you above 3,000m.
increase your aerobic capacity at altitude, but at least it will provide experience at managing the climbs as effectively as possible.
However 2,000m is high enough for the air to be noticeably thinner. The atmospheric pressure is 20% less at 2,000m than at sea-level, with the direct
about alpine cols
result that each breath contains 20% less oxygen.
Marvin Faure and his team of coaches provide
This means that your heart has to work much harder
professional-level support to Haute Route riders
to deliver the same amount of oxygen to your
through training camps, coaching and Race Services
muscles – so your heart rate will increase for the
during the event. Sign up for the Directeur Sportif or
same amount of work – and your aerobic capacity
Super-Domestique packages and benefit from their
(VO2max) will decline by a corresponding amount
combined experience of over 17 participations in
(probably closer to 10-12% at 2,000m).
the Haute Route.
Known to some as the rest day on the Haute Route, riding an Individual Time Trial is a skill in itself. Presenting a different type of challenge altogether to a regular Haute Route day, the Time Trial can either be seen as an opportunity to recover or as an opportunity to push your body right to the limit. Read on for our top tips on how to manage your Time Trial on the Haute Route.
A Time Trial should be a controlled effort, where
Gearing and RPM is always subject to personal
you start at a pace you know is feasible, and
preference, so we aren’t going to make any blanket
ideally increase your effort towards the latter stages.
recommendations on this subject. However, we can
Starting flat-out and blowing up ¾ of the way up is
suggest for those riders looking to recover on Time
never a good plan of action. Use the data you have
Trial day rather than go for a fast time, to favour
available (heart rate, power etc) to manage your
spinning a smaller gear rather than a heavy gear.
effort throughout the climb.
This will help you avoid delayed onset muscle soreness, meaning your legs are fresher for the rest
of the event.
Practice, practice, practice. Replicating a sustained Time Trial effort (on a climb or on the flat) at home is
a good idea before the Haute Route. This will help
Going into the Time Trial completely cold is not
you figure out the pace you should be able to hold
a good idea, especially when you have several
when the big day comes.
stages in the legs. Go for a small warm-up ride before the stage to get your heart rate up, activate
your muscles and prepare your body for the effort
Whilst you don’t have to worry about eating to fuel
to come. A few short accelerations up to race
a 4-5 hour effort on Time Trial day, you do need to
pace effort is also a good idea to get ready both
consider what you eat before and after the ride. The
physically and mentally.
nature of the Haute Route means fuelling is vital, and any calorie deficit throughout the week can come
back to haunt you. Don’t try and save 400 grams
Don’t just sit down after a Time Trial effort, as you will
going uphill by not eating breakfast before the Time
stiffen up and find it hard to get going the next day.
Trial, and remember to refuel with carbohydrates and
Descend back to the event village and ride for 10-15
protein after the stage, as you will need the energy
minutes to cool down and bring your body back to
going forward for the remainder of the event.
a steady state. Then you can head for your shower, massage, food and well-deserved rest.
excess weight We’re not talking about bodyweight here, but rather
the weight on your bike, in your pockets and of your
The Time Trial is one of the key features of all Haute
clothes. Climbing is all about power to weight ratio,
Route events. For a rider competing at, or near, the
so the less excess weight you carry the faster you’ll
front it is the ultimate test of pacing and ability; for
be able to go uphill. For most time trials you should
the riders closer to the back of the field it is a test of
be able to get by with one bidon (saving 500g), and
resolve and determination. Remember to make of Time
with no or just one gel in your pocket. Minimise excess
Trial day what you wish; for some it’s an opportunity
clothing as well (weather dependant obviously).
to climb the GC, for others one to recover and relax.
on how to stay strong, injury free and improve your haute route experience When training for the Haute Route it is important to keep your body strong and conditioned to avoid injuries. Preparation is not only about putting the miles in on your bike, but also ensuring your body remains conditioned to prevent injuries creeping in. Cycling involves many pedal revolutions and repetitive movements, so injuries often result from repetitive strain and micro-trauma rather than one specific trauma. The following exercises and stretches from Nichola Roberts at VeloPhysio are designed to keep in check any minor muscular imbalances you may have, and keep you mobile and strong on the bike during training and for the event itself.
1. avoid knee pain
Target your quadricep and hip flexor; use a wall, swiss ball or foam roller to create a combined stretch depending on your flexibility. Keep your body upright and contract your glute (butt) in order to focus the stretch to the front of the hip.
2. avoid back pain The thoracic spinal stretch: Use a foam roller or rolled up towel placed between the shoulder blades. Keep your elbows wide, with your hands cradled to support your head. Ease back over the roller into extension whilst taking slow deep breaths. Lift your bottom if discomfort is felt in lower back. This opens
the chest, the abdominal fascia and mobilises the mid-spine. This stretch is particularly important if you also have a desk-based job, and it can also help you improve breathing efficiency.
3. improve comfort in your bike position For this hamstring stretch, use a belt, towel or theraband, and keep your elbows and shoulders relaxed. Allow your knee to bend; avoiding fully locking it and keep some point in the foot. A comfortable stretch should be felt at the back of the thigh.
4. loosen your hips
Target the top-side of your hip, the very front of your hip and front side of your thigh with a foam roller. Move up as shown until you find a painful restricted area; pause, focus attention here for a few seconds then roll away. Return to it several times. It should feel uncomfortable, but not painful. The stretch in image 4.1 will also help release tension in your hips.
5. loosen your glutes Foam roll your glutes: The gluteal muscle is often an area that becomes tight from hours in the saddle yet it is often neglected in stretching routines. This
release feels great and helps to prevent restriction
that can contribute to lower back or knee pain. Using a tennis or lacrosse ball is also a great way to release this area. To strengthen your glutes you can also use the single leg bridge (image 5).
6. improve core strength The Plank: This a good exercise for your core and your posterior shoulder and neck muscles, especially if you are aiming to get long and low in your bike position. Push up as image one and progress to image two, aim to hold for 30 seconds, progressing to one minute. Increase the difficulty by adding leg lifts. The side plank should also be used, as shown in image 6.1.
7. Stabilise your pelvis
Using a theraband, this exercise targets the gluteus medius to stabilise your pelvis and improve power on the down stroke. Set up as shown with the band looped around the foot; keep the leg at hip height with the knee and foot aligned. Keep the band taught at chest level throughout the exercise. Slowly bend your leg as if during the upstroke of the pedal cycle or until the knee is at 90 degrees, then slowly straighten back to the start position. It is important that the movement is slow and controlled and that the knee stays level with the hip at all times. The burn should be felt in the outside of the glute or back pocket area. Nichola Roberts is the founder of Velophysio, a physiotherapy practice dedicated to cyclists. She has also completed the Haute Route Pyrenees and provided physiotherapy during the Haute Route Alps and Dolomites, making her well-placed to understand the demands placed on the body during the Haute Route. These seven exercises and stretches should help you condition your body and minimise the risk of injury in the lead-up to, and during, the Haute Route.
basic bike maintenance with maxime ruphy of mavic
Keeping your bike in good shape is almost as important as looking after your body, says Maxime Ruphy of Haute Route main partner and iconic French wheel and accessories supplier Mavic. Your bike becomes an extension of yourself during an Haute Route, so it is important to know the basics of how to maintain it. Read on below for some general advice on bikes and preparation from Maxime and then some more detailed tips on how to look after your bike during the event and at home.
general points 1. pre-haute route service
Get your bike serviced before coming to the Haute
Maxime does not recommend tubular tyres, unless
Route. Maxime says he is surprised every year by
riders are fully conversant with changing them. In the
the number of riders who turn up for Stage 1 with a
past riders who have used tubulars have ended up
bike that is in no fit state for the challenge ahead. He
having to wait for the Mavic car for help on replacing
advises all Haute Route competitors to ensure their
them, losing them critical time on the stage.
bikes are subjected to a thorough overhaul before
5. if in doubt get it checked
packing them up for the journey to the event.
Maxime says that any little problems on the bike
2. know your bike
should be dealt with immediately after a stage and
Maxime’s tip here is not to go and spend a fortune
Mavic is there to help. “The best thing to do when
on the very latest or lightest machine. “The best
you cross the finish line is to come to us and get the
thing,” he says, “is to use a bike that you already
bike checked, so that it is ready for the next day. You
know inside out. Don’t try to use a new bike that you
can have a little problem after every stage and, if we
have only just started to ride. You need to feel good
see the bike, we can stop it developing into a big
on your bike; it could be a very expensive model but
problem that might ruin your week.”
also a low priced one. If you are good on this bike, you can feel good on the road.”
3. broken mech or derallieur hangers The most common serious mechanical issue that Mavic mechanics deal with on the road during an Haute Route are broken derallieur hangers. The key thing here is that there are scores of different designs in use so it is vital that you carry a spare version of the model you are using during road stages. “Riders need to carry a spare hanger,” says Maxime. “At the Mavic truck in the event villages we try to stock everything we need – cables, chains, brake pads – but we cannot stock each type of hanger because there are too many.”
looking after your bike 1. fixing a puncture
Punctures are the only mechanical issue that all riders
Gear cables and brake cables are an integral part
have to be self-sufficient in terms of fixing during the
of a well-functioning bike. Looking after these and
Haute Route. Having Mavic tend to all punctures in
knowing when to change them is also important:
a 500-deep Haute Route peloton is just not feasible.
If your cables block slightly when you brake, if
Touch wood you wonâ€™t have a puncture during the
they struggle to return to their initial position or if
event, but just in case you do here are Mavicâ€™s top
you struggle to change your gears, change them.
tips for a quick turnaround:
Remember to grease them when you replace them to maximise their lifespan.
Try not to panic if the clock is ticking. Remove the tyre using your tyre-levers and run your fingers along
4. bike Cleaning
the inside and outside of the tyre to find the cause
A clean bike is a happy bike. Everyone knows
of the puncture. Replace the inner tube and partly
you are supposed to clean your bike regularly to
inflate it prior to putting the tyre back on the rim to
keep it in top condition. But during the Haute Route
minimise the risk of pinch punctures. Be sure not to
eating and recovery often become the priority after
leave your old inner tube on the side of the road.
To minimise punctures ensure you replace your tyres regularly and inflate them to approximately 10% of
Degrease the chain, give the frame and wheels a
your bodyweight ie 7 bar for a 70kg rider (up to a
wipe with a soapy rag, spray it down with water
maximum of 8.5 bar).
and dry it with a rag to avoid rusting. Lube the chain and remove excess grease with another rag. Do this
regularly and you can avoid the dreaded dirty bike
The Haute Route is not only uphill because for every
and any unnecessary mechanical issues.
col you summit there is a descent to follow. This means a lot of braking, and wearing of your brake pads.
Looking after your bike is important to ensure it doesnâ€™t become an obstacle to your performance
Looking after your brakes is straightforward. Most
on the Haute Route. These tips from Mavic should
brake pads have small treads in them to indicate
help you be relatively self-sufficient at home and on
when they have reached their critical wearing point.
event. If any other major issues crop up during the
If you can still see the treads then the brake pads are
event track down the nearest Mavic vehicle and the
still useable. If they are totally smooth, change them.
mechanics will be happy to help you out.
02 the experience locker 48
haute route roadcraft riding the haute route is about more than just cycling; it's about making the most of the event and the services provided so that you can ride to the best of your ability and enjoy the time on your bike. read on for our top tips on how to make the most of your haute route experience.
"it's one big peloton and the more people you know the more fun it is" pacing
and prevent you from getting bored of constantly
The most common thought we overhear on the
eating the same thing whilst riding.
startline of stage 2 of every Haute Route is: “I went way too deep yesterday.” It’s the same every
year and on every event, so don’t be surprised if
Our Main Partner, Mavic, are always out on the road
it happens to you. All we can recommend is that
in their iconic yellow support cars to fix mechanical
if you want to enjoy the Haute Route as much
issues throughout the stage. Whilst you are expected
as possible you should avoid riding too fast and
to be autonomous for punctures, Mavic will be on
beyond your ability on the first day. Use the data
hand to fix all other mechanical problems out on the
you have available to you to pace your rides and,
road. If you have an issue with your bike during a
on day one, stick to the numbers you are used to in
stage, alert the nearest motorbike or vehicle; they will
training. The multi-day nature of the events mean
make a call to Mavic who will send you their nearest
you not only need to pace yourself on each stage,
vehicle or motorbike. If they are unable to fix your
but also across the event as a whole.
bike, they will be able to provide a spare bike for you on which to finish the day’s stage. Mavic are also
present on the start and finish lines, so if your bike has
With four or five feed stations on every stage, there
any issues throughout the event be sure to go and see
are more than enough opportunities for you to fuel
them and get it fixed.
the long days in the saddle. Supplied by one of the world’s leading sports nutrition brands, the
Powerbar® products available vary from bars, to gels
Certain stages on the Haute Route can be interspersed
and isotonic drinks to meet your every need. On top
with non-timed sections. These are usually required
of this we have coke and water, as well as a selection
by the Directeur Sportif due to security concerns
of sweet and savoury whole foods to fill your stomachs
i.e. dangerous descents, busy urban environments
(cheese, ham, crackers, dried fruits, snack bars). We
or busy roads. You can use the non-timed sections
recommend you fuel on a mix of specialty Powerbar
to your advantage. For example, you are able to
products as well as whole foods. This will help you
spend time refueling at the top of a climb, recover
avoid (or minimise) any intestinal issues on the bike,
on a descent by riding slower or conserve energy
by riding in a big group along a busy valley road.
timings, high-risk areas and details of the finish town
All these little things will add up and help you to
logistics and accommodation.
get through the Haute Route in better condition. Do timed section, as there are still cut-off times to make
enjoy it and get to know your fellow riders
on every stage.
The Haute Route is an amazing experience and
be careful however not to spend too long in a non-
it is intense – everyone is concentrating hard on
achieving their goals and rightly so. But don’t forget
When you cross the finish line after a stage, the first
to enjoy it too and get to know some of your fellow
thought on most people’s mind is food. And rightly
riders who come from all over the world and who
so, food is vital for recovery on an event like this,
share your cycling passion. You will see that we
and vital for fuelling the following day on the bike.
name everyone on their bibs not by their surnames
We provide a meal after every stage that offers a
but by their first name, encouraging people to reach
selection of hot and cold, sweet and savoury foods
out and say “Hi” and share the experience of an
for you to eat in order to appease the hunger and
incredible week of athletic achievement in some of
kick start the recovery process. Carbohydrate and
the world greatest cycling scenery. If you are finding
protein are two key elements in the regeneration of
the going tough, there will be someone else who
muscle tissue and glycogen stores, so make sure you
is battling even harder and yet others who will be
include these in your meal. The buffet also includes
more than happy to offer words of encouragement.
a selection of vegetables and fruits as well as some
It’s one big peloton and the more people you know
sweet options for dessert, so there is more than
the more fun it is, both during and after riding.
enough to satisfy most stomachs.
massages Our masseurs are usually most riders’ favourite staff members by the end of the first day, and that is totally justified. Our travelling massage team provide every rider with an opportunity to recover like the pros, helping to avoid sore muscles and eliminate any niggles you may have. Be sure to reserve your massage at the info point after crossing the finish line each day, and you’ll be able to minimise the delayed onset muscle soreness that could impact your riding the following day.
briefings Mandatory security briefings take place every day in order to prepare riders for the following stage. The information provided ranges from a detailed analysis of each climb to weather forecasts, wind direction,
record holder and Tour de France stage winner
divide up the tough days into manageable sections
gave us his tips on how to not let the mountains beat
The way to cope with long hard days in the mountains
you. Boardman spoke to the Haute Route back in
is to chunk it up – you’ve just got to break it down
2015 but his advice is just as good now as it was
and don’t try to mentally deal with it all at once. The
trick is you just look at the hill you are on and think
he Olympic gold medallist, former hour world
to yourself: ‘it’s 15kms long and then I am on the
descent, then I can have something to eat.’ So that is
The psychological side of riding in the mountains is
where your finish line is – 15kms away. And when you
all about keeping your ego in check and everything
get there that is the time to think about the next leg.
else should fall into line from that. The challenge on
That’s the only way to cope really.
a typical Haute Route stage is 70% mental and 30% the event. Being physically capable of getting up the
the strategic overview and not going too hard at the start
climbs is a given. But after that this sort of riding is all
You always want to be going steady at the start
psychological - how you deal with it in your mind, and
because you see in any major event people make up
whether you choose to be over-ambitious.
huge deficits at the end if they have got something left.
physical. The physical bit is your ticket to get into
This applies just as much to a 4km race on a track as
points you just have to bring it all the way back
it does to riding 300kms in the mountains. You can
to the here and now – you deal with each pedal
always afford to go steadier than you think you should
revolution, one at a time. You can make it more and
at the start and you will get that back at the end if you
more simplistic until you are at the point of thinking
have got it wrong. If you do it the other way round
about pedal revs, and this one, and the next one,
and over-extend at the start, it could be enough to see
and the next one. In that instance it was just a case
you not finish. So always go easier than you think, not
of ‘get to the top of this climb and then I’ll reassess.’
harder. If you think you are over-stretching you almost
You go as slow as you need to.
set your bike up for the climbs
By and large you are going for an even effort not an
Before an event like the Haute Route, always, always
even speed. So you change with the gradient. Don’t
make sure your bike has got gears on it lower than
try harder as it gets steeper – you should go slower.
you think that you are going to need. Always do this
Go for an even effort over the day.
because you are not obliged to use them but you can’t
the three 'p's
use them if they are not there.
You have the power, pulse and perception of effort –
there are no hard mountains
the three “Ps” if you like. Perception of effort is by far
There is no such thing as a hard mountain – there’s
the most important of the three. Power is the output;
only a hard speed at which you try to climb it. Every
pulse is a reflection of your effort. But during the ride,
mountain is capable of being cycled, it’s just a matter
perception of effort is key – it’s about how you feel
of how fast you choose to try and go up it. Our own
and do you feel comfortable? Cadence-wise, around
egos are the enemy here; don’t ride at a pace you
about 80rpm is a good number.
think you should be able to ride at, or want to ride at, ride at the pace you can ride at. You are in control;
out of the saddle
you choose. So long as you give yourself the tools
If you are climbing for many hours you have to be
to do it – in this case it’s specifically the gears on
seated. The heavier you are, the more naturally
your bike – then you can do it. You can go at less
inclined you will be to want to be seated. Take a
than walking pace if you want to so long as you are
break every now and again when you need to. But
equipped for that.
constantly getting out of the saddle means you are going too hard or you haven’t got a low enough
when the mountain is getting the better of you
gear on your bike.
I have been there in a stage of the Tour de France –
When you feel like superman
it was stage 17 in 1996 – a 262km-stage finishing
It’s day one that is the most dangerous because
in Pamplona and we took in seven climbs of which
people just go haring off and over-extend. Really you
five were second category or harder. I was out the
should be able to think on that first morning, ‘this is
back in the early stages on my own. I just thought: ‘I
fairly easy’. That is the kind of self-feedback you are
have just done two-and-a-half weeks of racing and
looking for – ‘this is OK; I am comfortable with this’. It
I can’t see how I am going to finish this.’ At those
probably means that you will just make it.
brooke mead rider profile: competing at the front 54 Â© PHOTORUNNING
biography nationality: American
age group: <40
lives: Near Lausanne in Switzerland work: Marketing for multinational medical devices company haute route experience Haute Route Pyrenees 2015 (GC position female ranking: 2nd. Men and women overall: 76th) Haute Route Alps 2016 (GC position female ranking: 1st. Men and women overall: 80th)
other sporting highlights 13th Female Finisher in the 2011 Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas, USA.
hi brooke, so give us an idea of your cycling background?
better than me so that I am always fighting to not get dropped – that of course helps as well!
I was born and raised in Evanston just north of Chicago, not exactly a place for road cycling –
what is it that you love about cycling?
swimming was my sport. In fact, in one of my first
Well of course there is the social aspect.
bike outings, in my twenties, I had a pretty bad bike
my husband Paul and I moved to Switzerland from
crash which put me off of biking for at least 5 years. I
California in 2009, the cycling community has really
only started riding properly when I was 28 as a part
been our social fabric. Generally I have found in
of triathlon, and found myself with a strength I didn’t
sports, and particularly in cycling, there are a group
know I had.
of people who enjoy the same things like the push to
really work hard, not taking themselves too seriously
why did you start riding?
and the sense of camaraderie. There is also a
From my competitive swimming, I was always into
playfulness that I love – attacking friends or randoms
the training and enjoying the focus and suffering
on a climb and yet you never leave anyone behind
that comes with training, in any sport. Triathlon was
or hesitate to help someone in need. And then there
great for this and road cycling, even better. Cycling
is being in Switzerland; there is no better place to
is one of those sports where you can improve really
ride. Within a few hours you have the Alps, the
fast compared to other sports, if you put in the
Dolomites and the Pyrenees and out my backdoor
work. There is so much fine tuning and efficiency
are the gorgeous roads of the Lavaux region.
gains if you just get on the bike and keep pedaling – it doesn’t matter what bike you are on, you can
how did you get on in your first haute route?
improve quite quickly. Also, over the years I have
Well I went into it thinking it was my first time and
always rode mostly with men and people who are
my husband, who had done it the previous year, was
going to support me, sort of as my domestique. But
and be careful where the timed sections are, which
we were going to ride it together and see what I
sometimes means pushing down a descent. That is
could do. I didn’t think I could be on the podium,
not my favorite, especially as a mom, because I don’t
but after the first day I was the sixth woman in the
think it’s worth the risk as we’re not pros. Knowing
ranking so I knew that the podium was within reach.
that, I had to win the climbs… Thankfully, in 2016
In hindsight you realise that every second counts and
I rode in the Alps against but also alongside my
on that first day I didn’t have that mindset, I was
friend Victoria, who is another mom, and we had
just riding to enjoy it and stay within myself and not
a great time battling each other up and down those
overdo it. I guess I had the mentality of a different
gorgeous hills. As close as we became, there was
profile of rider so then I realised that I needed to fight
never a relaxed moment on the road that week which
made it all the better and I was ready for that.
the woman who eventually won (Amélie Laurendon
in terms of all the cycling you do, do you regard the haute route as the pinnacle week in the year?
of France) was far ahead of me, by almost 30
Oh, there is nothing like the Haute Route. In 2014 I
minutes, but I was the better climber so it made
had our second daughter and I watched the Haute
for a really fun element to hunt her down and win
Route to support my husband and our team and
stages. By the last day, I was only down by four
I couldn’t believe what an amazing event it was
minutes and there was only one climb and 80km of
and what the scenery was like. I was following the
flat rolling into the finish so I had to make a gap on
Dolomites tour – high up in the mountains, through
her as much as I could. I took three minutes out of
the cold fog – it was like this mystical experience
her on the climb, but with support around her on the
and I just thought ‘I have GOT do this.’ And for
flat, we couldn’t break loose to get that last minute.
sure the Haute Route for the last two years has
I ended up second overall (by just 51 seconds) after
been the highlight of our year, hands down. For
7 days of riding! No regrets - I wouldn’t change a
us it is a really unique thing because not only am
thing because I really tested myself, raced with my
I competing but I am competing at a high level
husband, met lots of incredible people including the
with my husband’s mega support – a true team
3rd place female finisher, Victoria Grimmer, and I
experience for us.
Every day I chipped away at the leader and it became an incredibly exciting women’s contest –
was truly happy for Amelie.
what advice would you give riders about how to tackle the haute route based on your experience of winning?
that experience must have given you a very clear idea of how to win when you came back last year to the haute route alps?
Maybe this is basic but there are two main things.
Exactly. It gave me a really good foundation. I knew
One, you never know what you are capable of until
what I needed to do. At the end of the day you have
you try. So you have to go into it thinking I am going
to go for everything you can but also stay within
to give it my all and see what I can do - have fun
yourself because I’ve seen other women blow up. So
but really focus. Second, I think it’s important to
it is a fine balance. It is a long week where you have
remember that your mind gives up before your body
to push yourself as much as you can on the climbs
does. That’s what you have to train for – you have
does. That’s what you have to train for – you have
in the developing world with diabetes) and I was
to train like you are going to ride, so you have to
honoured to get up on the podium and represent
train at the speed you want to ride at, practice doing
not only a great cause but also inspire people
really long climbs back-to-back. Typically what we
to ride for a reason – and inspire women and
do on our long training weeks heading into the
demonstrate that women can be up at the top of
Haute Route, is ride to the point when we really
the hill with the men.
get that feeling of being fatigued and then go and do another hour’s climbing at a pace that makes
are you looking forward to the rockies?
you feel uncomfortable. You have to try and fight
Yes it’s goes to be really fun to see what the American
element is going to be like. I think it is going to be very different. I have really enjoyed the European
what advice would you give to people about the time spent off the bike during the haute route if they want to remain competitive?
events and it is going to be interesting to take it to the US and parallel it. I have never ridden in the Rockies so it will be a new experience and we are looking forward to it.
You have to stay focused the entire time. But you want to enjoy yourself so give yourself that
to focus on getting your nutrition, your rest and your
finally, can you give us a brief summary of your training programme leading up to an haute route week?
massage - and follow that pattern every day. Some
For starters, we have taken the Fall (ie. post Haute
days I skipped the massage entirely and just went
Route) off to relax and enjoy quality family time for a
straight to bed for a few hours just to rest up for the
few months. We start ramping back up and building
next day and feel fresh.
our base mileage in Dec/ January. In terms of power,
freedom – you know chat with people and be social. But there is finite time in the day and you do have
I didn’t ride with power in my first year on the Haute Take the small victories and enjoy them.
Route so you can do it without knowing your power
Some people think they are going to be competitive
numbers. But power does help a lot and it is a nice
and maybe they don’t even finish the stage – maybe
distraction and a way of focusing on your training
they go too strong too early. So celebrate the small
in a different way. I do some indoor home trainer
victories that you have - do as well as you can on
riding but certainly enjoy more outdoors. We do two
each climb or each section or make small goals for
weeks of intensive training leading up to the Haute
the day and just chip away at it and don’t put too
Route separated by six weeks in between. In terms
much pressure on yourself by trying to ride to win.
of hours, during the three moths prior to the Haute Route, I was doing more than 40 hours a month, at
Ride for a reason.
least 10 hours a week, so you really have to find
I would recommend that people – all riders in the
the time during the week as well at weekends. I
Haute Route – ride for a reason. Off the bike you
would also say that although I call it training, it’s
may be so exhausted that you’re not sure how you
almost always something enjoyable and needs to
will do the next day, and it really helps to have a
stay that way.
deeper drive. I rode for Team Type 1 (the event
thanks brooke and good luck in the rockies
official charity that raises money to help children
petri karvinen rider profile: the mid-peloton competitive rider 58 ÂŠ PHOTORUNNING
biography nationality: Finnish
age group: <40
lives: Two hours west of Helsinki work: Account director for an IT company haute route experience Haute Route Pyrenees 2015 (GC position male ranking: 196th) Haute Route Alps 2016 (GC position male ranking: 200th)
other sporting highlights Ironman 2014
petri, tell us what it is like riding in the midpeloton rankings in the haute route?
bought my first road bike in 2011 when I turned
Itâ€™s still competitive, even though you are coming in
I had never done before so I had to come up with
around the 200 mark in my case. This was especially
30. My friends suggested I try a half triathlon which
the case this year when I realised after day three I was 240 something. It was really a battle for me
did you start to achieve some performance on the bike quite quickly?
for the last four days. I missed getting under 200 in
It was pretty much during the first year that I started
the male ranking by 16 seconds so I finished 200th.
seeing the results. In that triathlon I would never
Even though I just missed it I was happy with my
have expected to achieve the pace in that race that I
improvement during the last days of the week.
achieved. I got my bike in April and the race was in
that I wanted to make to get inside the top-200 and
July and my average speed for the race
it's very competitive in that part of an haute route peloton and you start to see the same riders around you every day.
wow! You did that in three months?
You do and especially in that part of the field you see
a lot of people because sometimes in the morning you might be at the back. Then when you start warming
did you start to do some cycling-only events?
up you start overtaking and you really meet a lot of
The first one I did was the Haute Route Pyrenees in
people during the day which doesnâ€™t happen when
2015 which was also my first real experience of
you are in the top ten or top twenty.
riding uphill because there are no proper hills where I live in Finland. The first hill I ever encountered was the
did you start riding as kid?
first one after the start at Anglet on Stage 1. I think it
I did some fun cycling when I was young but I
was the Col de Burdincurutcheta!
no idea what to expect but I had friends with me who
it's competitive isn't it - it's lots of ordinary people who have reached a peak of fitness who are really enjoying seeing how hard and how fast they can go over the week?
had done the Haute Route Dolomites the year before
Yes, the main competitor in the 200-mark group is, of
and I thought if they could do it then so could I. But
course, yourself. But especially if you are with friends
to be honest on that first hill when it started I was
it turns into a little competition. We had a group of 12
pretty much cursing myself and thinking what have I
people this year (Team SKB). There was one guy who
got myself into.
was around 75th, two who were at about the 120
how do you remember thinking about the haute route before you did it? Well, I was just reading the Rider’s Guide but I had
mark and the rest of us were around 200 so we had
so how did it develop in your mind?
a great fun competition in our group.
It got better after the first day and the same happened
the first night and then went a little easier the next
what about bikes? is it necessary to have a really expensive bike to hit the 200s or can you just use a good one?
morning. It was then that I started to realise that this
No you don’t have to have the latest gear or the most
was a), doable and b), that it was enjoyable.
expensive gear to finish the Haute Route. If my friends
this year in the Alps when I went a little too hard and I thought I was going to die, but I recovered over
start thinking about buying bikes, which they have
what do you think the secret to enjoying the Haute Route is? is it to turn up being fit enough to get it done without too much pain and even be able to look around and enjoy the scenery?
recently, I have always said to them don’t go over the 2,000 euro mark – if you go over it, you are overspending. When you start to do a lot more riding, it is more natural to spend more on a bike but still I have
You need to find your level and when you realise you
used my bike for four years now and I couldn’t be
can keep it up – or even exceed it – then you start
happier with it.
to enjoy yourself. Both years when I have done the Haute Route I went faster during the last three days
what bike do you have?
than I have ever before and of course the views are
I have a Felt F3.
amazing. I don’t want to stop thinking about how cool
during the haute route itself what do you think is the most important thing about how you handle the time off the bike each day?
the views were on both events.
what would you say to people who are looking to ride around the 200-mark? how do they need to prepare for that?
What we did with our friends was just concentrate on taking it easy and eating – that’s all you need
Probably do it the simple way. Don’t overdo it.
and that’s all you have energy for. There were some
Basically get used to sitting on a saddle and enjoy
guys who were doing an Haute Route for the first
your riding – that’s all you need to do. I could only
time and they were asking whether they should see
train on the flat and had no way to prepare for what
the sights of the villages – I think they gave up on
was coming. So the way to prepare was to enjoy
that idea after day two. Of course you can do that
the riding here at home and get used to sitting on a
and walk around and so on, but my advice would be
saddle and that did it – that was enough.
don’t overdo it.
what affect has doing the haute route had on your cycling in general? are you inspired to do more?
did you cycle each day according to power zones or to your heart rate?
Both times it has been really uplifting. I wanted to do
use when it is flat but on the Haute Route I used power.
more and more on the bike after the Haute Route.
The normal daily average output I had was 230 watts
There are some very small hills here at home and
but on day 6 in the Alps all my hills were 260-280.
Usually at home I cycle to heart rate which is easier to
when I came back from my first Haute Route I broke
would you encourage people to use a powerbased training plan to prepare?
all my records on them – it was great to see I could do them even better than I imagined.
It helps definitely – we had a friend with us who
what does your wife think about your cycling?
didn’t use power. He rode by how he felt and I know he went too hard on some days and too easy on
She thinks I’m mad.
others. It’s especially difficult to measure your output
Do you ever say to her that she should get on a bike?
on the downhills.
it (yet) probably because she sees that I am overdoing
finally petri tell us your best memory of the haute route?
it on so many levels so she probably wants to stay
In the 2015 Pyrenees, one of my competitors was
out of it.
my boss. He was more experienced than I was but
I have been trying to encourage her but she is not into
in 2015 I had trained a little more than he had, so
is it quite difficult to keep a sensible balance and not go crazy with the riding?
we were expecting it to be rather tight even though I had no idea what to expect.
Well the beautiful thing about the Haute Route is that you can still keep to a balanced life while you are
On the last day, I was leading him by about 15mins,
preparing but as soon as you step on your pedals
so it was pretty much done. But at about 80km from
in the event itself, then you start overdoing it and
the finish, my gear wire broke and I had to get a
replacement bike from Mavic. He sat there waiting with me, in no rush. After 15 more kms of riding,
tell us the high point of your alps ride.
the chain on my replacement bike broke. We didn’t
I think day six (134km, 3,400M+ including the Col
have any tools with us, so to get help, he pushed me
du Tra, Cormet de Roselend and Col des Saisies)
for a good 10km until we found help and got the
was easily the best cycling I have ever done. It
bike moving again.
was one of the longest days and it was the hardest day but my power meter showed me numbers that
That is still a key memory from the Haute Route and
I didn’t believe I could reach. I just had fun while
something you really don’t get from shorter events
when people are in a “hurry” to cross the finish line. There’s a great feeling of camaraderie in the Haute
you trained with power. what was your ftp score?
Route – of being all part of the same event.
For 20 minutes it was 320.
karolina ornstedt rider profile: towards the back of the peloton 62 ÂŠ PHOTORUNNING
biography nationality: Swedish
age group: <40
status: Long-Term Relationship
lives: Stockholm work: Software developer haute route experience Haute Route Pyrenees 2014 Haute Route Dolomites 2015 Triple Crown 2016
other sporting highlights A few years ago Karolina weighed around 150 kilos. Then she got on her bike, became super-fit, did one Haute Route, then another and last year triumphed by completing an extraordinary Triple Crown.
hi karolina, give us an idea what it is like riding an haute route near the back of the field?
so are you always keeping an eye on where the lanterne rouge is and the broom wagon?
Yes. Well, it is a different form of challenge because
Yes. The Lanterne Rouge is really helpful. If you know
you are not trying to win. You don’t think about your
you are going to struggle he is really, really helpful.
position or where you are going to finish in the field.
It is a good tip to take advantage of him – you can
You just want to finish and finish within the time limit
always talk to him and ask if he is keeping track of the
each day. And if you are really at the back then you
time and if he knows if you are doing well or whether
always have that time pressure in your mind – you
you need to hurry even more.
must keep track of the time to know that you will make stand around at the feed stations for long because you
and he can give you a lot of encouragement presumably?
don’t have as much extra time as other riders - you
the time cut every day. And you don’t have time to
have to be on the bike to make it.
although you are nottrying to win, you are up against the clock almost more than most?
what's the atmosphere like amongst that group of people at the back who are just trying to get the week done?
Yeah, I think so, absolutely. If you are really at the back
It’s very friendly. I think everyone wants to help
you are definitely fighting the clock. But there are also
everyone else to reach the finish. We talk a lot with
people who don’t care about the timing; they just want
each other and more so than the people at the front
to finish every day and they don’t care if they get in
do. We become friends and we talk to people to try to
under the time limit or not. They are not in a hurry –
help them to focus on something else rather than the
they just have to work out where the Broom Wagon is.
pain that they might be going through.
"it felt like i had won. it was an incredible feeling even though we were at the back of the pack." so you meet a whole broad group of people from all over the world i guess?
is there a memory that helps to give an idea of what the challenge is like at the back of the haute route?
During the Pyrenees in 2014 there was a day with a
are there some stages that are easier than others in terms of time pressure? presumably when the clock stops at the top of a climb, for example, that makes it easier for you.
very long last climb and I was really chasing the cut-off the whole day – it was always going to be really close during the last 15kms, but I was accompanied by the Lanterne Rouge and he was really, really helpful. I gave up mentally several times but he said ‘no, no you
No, it never makes it easy because you always have
have time – you will make it - just keep on going.’ And
to finish the day before a certain time. If you have
then I reached the finish with just two minutes to spare.
to finish before 2.00pm say, then it doesn’t matter if
I just did not give up and it felt like I had won. It was
the timing stops somewhere during the day because
an incredible feeling even though we were at the back
you still have to reach the finish in time. That can be
of the pack. But you don’t care about anything apart
a bit tricky for people who haven’t done it before.
from yourself at that point.
They think ‘oh the timing’s stopped, I can stand here
what advice would you give to someone thinking of coming to an haute route but worried about being at the back?
and take a break’ but they have to be careful not to waste time.
do people generally improve during the week or what?
You can do it and don’t give up. I have passed people who were in the Broom Wagon just because they
Yes, I think during the first couple of days you are not
were tired – you really get tired but that is no reason
yet into it and you are slower and your legs find it
for giving up. If you just push a little bit more you will
difficult to climb and you are nervous. But then you
make it. I think it is a mental game and it is important
get into it after maybe two days and then you start to
not give up because your head often gives up before
improve and get better.
your legs do.
what about training? What advice would you give there?
don’t spend so much time going out eating dinner
Obviously it’s important to do a lot of work on the bike
on the bike.
and stuff like that, if you are spending a lot of time
and if you live in Sweden like I do where it is very flat, I think it is good to travel somewhere – the Alps or the
did you find the long hours hard?
Pyrenees for example – and do a week’s training in
You get used to it, even though they are long days. It
the mountains before coming to the Haute Route. It is
is important to use the Time Trial days to recover even
really hard to train only on the flat.
more. It is the shortest day on the bike and you can do a lot of sleeping and taking it easy. I always take
it seems to me that everyone has their personal Everest, their personal goal and that wherever you are in the haute route peloton there is something for you to be aiming at.
it slow on the Time Trial – I will not win anyhow so timing doesn’t matter for me because I am so far at the back and it is a good time to rest the legs.
aiming to win or just make it inside the time limit.
is there any piece of kit or food that you absolutely rely on and that you recommend people bring to the haute route?
Everybody who does it – even if they don’t make the
Proper rain gear is most important. If it is 2 degrees
time cut – they are really happy just to have made it.
and raining on the top of the Galibier, for example,
It’s great fun.
you have to have nice clothes otherwise you are going
Yes – it is a challenge for everyone whether you are
to get very wet and cold.
And do you notice an improvement in your performance when you get back from the Haute Route?
on bikes presumably you would agree that there is no point in spending a fortune?
Yes, absolutely. You are really fit when you come
Yes. The most important thing is not the bike but the
back. You need some rest and recovery but then you
gearing you have and that you have the right set-up to
are much better than before.
suit you for climbing.
towards the back of the peloton you are spending a lot more time on the road and on the bike than people who are quicker. So in many ways your week is harder because you are working the bike for longer.
finally, what is your best memory of the haute route, if you had to pick one?
Yes it’s much longer and you don’t get so much
really nice – it was really, really incredible. It is so
recovery time and everybody is ahead of you in the
hard to describe. Of course I felt like a winner, I felt
massage queue and things like that. So you face
like I had won something even though I didn’t win.
It was an incredible experience knowing that I had
I think it was the whole of the last stage of the Triple Crown last year, knowing that I had done 20 days and there was one day left. Arriving in Venice was
made it and that I was able to do it.
what advice would you offer people about this aspect of the challenge?
thank you very much Karolina and good luck with your riding this year
I think it is important to prioritise your recovery –
the view from the
hemisphere Forty-one year old Sydney-sider Will Levy (left) is the only person to have completed every Haute Route event since the start of the series in 2011. These days Will runs a cycling holiday and events business, twowheeltours, based in Australia. He brings more than 40 riders each year to the European Haute Route events, many of them from the southern hemisphere. We asked Will about the particular concerns for southern hemisphere-based riders coming to an endurance cycling event like the Haute Route that is based in Europe or the United States.
will, southern hemisphere riders have to train through their winters to be ready for Haute Route events in the European or American summer months. Is this a particularly big issue?
wake up very early that first morning - no one ever sleeps through breakfast of day one. Ultimately, the more time people have to adjust the better and it will lead to a much better experience at the event.
People need to keep riding through the winter in
conditions in winter are nothing compared to the
are there any short-cuts to getting over travel tiredness in time to ride at your full potential?
UK or other places in northern Europe, so I don’t
Not really. It’s so different for every person. There
think it is a big issue.
is no one thing you can put your finger on. Some
the southern hemisphere to be ready for an Haute Route. But here in Australia, for example, the
people pop sleeping tablets which I don’t blame them
what about travel time and getting over jet lag? Many Haute Route riders come to Europe each year from places like Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and South Africa. What is your advice on timings and adjusting?
for – but it’s each to their own and there are so many different outlooks and opinions on what you should or shouldn’t do. The key thing is to arrive as early as possible to get yourself grounded, get your bike ready and make sure it all fits back together again.
We always have a lot of problems with clients who
We usually head out for two relatively easy “shake-
arrive close to the departure day for the event.
down” rides on the first and second day of our tours
That’s why we run tours that start at least two days
(the two days before stage 1). Nothing too strenuous
before the actual stage one. I have looked into
but exercise and time in the sun can certainly help
sleep patterns and it generally takes one day per
fight jet lag.
hour of time zone shift to recover. That means for
trying to adjust by up to, say, 11 hours. There
you mention bikes there. clearly getting your bike to the event in one piece from a long haul flight with connections is an uncertain business.
is no doubt that riders are nervous, anxious and
Bikes not arriving can be a big issue, as are parts
worried on the eve of an Haute Route. For many
on your bike. If someone hasn’t packed their bike
people, this is the biggest physical event they are
right or it’s a multi-stage flight, say Sydney to Dubai
ever going to do, so they need to be prepared for
and from there to France or Austria in the case of the
things such as jet-lag.
Haute Route Dolomites, then problems can happen.
every hour that you move forward or back, you ideally need one day to get you right. Of course that is not always practical for someone who is
The likelihood of something going wrong with the
so you advise two or three days adjustment for long-haul flyers from the southern hemisphere?
bike is amplified every time your bike is loaded onto another flight. We give all our clients a little list of spares to bring – another derailleur tip/hanger, a
Yes. Ideally I would say a minimum of three days.
couple of spare spokes etc – it’s better to have those
Our clients who arrive the night before stage one
hard-to-find pieces in your luggage than worrying
of a European event - even coming from the US
about sourcing them from a small village in the
- find it difficult. You generally see that they will
"there is such an amazing group of people who do the event and that's the beauty of the haute route" would you recommend people hire bikes at the haute route through France Bike Rentals for example?
your hard work and training is over. Whether it’s 3 days, 7 days, 14 days or 21 days - you need to try and enjoy every minute of it. If you love
It’s fantastic that this is an option. We have had two or
competitive riding – great. Otherwise just enjoy
three clients who have had to use a hire bike because
it. Enjoy the other riders’ company. There is such
a bike hasn’t arrived or a bike has been broken in
an amazing group of people who do the event and
transit. It’s a huge relief for us and other riders to have
that’s the beauty of the Haute Route, it’s only 500
that service. Dealing with the stress of not having a
riders. For the most part you will cross their paths
bike is not how you want to start an Haute Route.
during the week and it’s nice to have a chat with people from all around the world brought together
of course you can always buy spares in Europe.
through the commonality of cycling.
Yes but being prepared is the biggest aspect. For first-time travellers from Australia or from the southern
Two: Try and recover as quickly as possible each
hemisphere – I know it sounds stereotypical – you
day after riding. If you can get into bed at nine
walk into a bike shop in the Alps or Pyrenees and
o’clock then do that. We have our own masseur
it’s sometimes like stepping back into the 1970s –
on tour and extra foam rollers, those are two extra
they don’t have all the latest gear that you will need.
factors that will assist in getting you to the start line
It can also be the case for nutrition – what you eat
the next day.
at home when you are training, you may not be able to find in Europe so the best thing is to bring
And three: Have your bike serviced - have the major
it with you.
overhaul done before the Haute Route starts. Get the bottom bracket taken out, get your wheels trued – it’s
finally, with all your unrivalled experience of the Haute Route, give us your top-three tips for a successful time?
worth the $500. You’ve made a massive investment of time and money to be there. Do yourself a favour and get your bike ready.
Number one is you have to enjoy it – once you
thanks will and enjoy the haute route in 2017!
are at the Haute Route, that’s the pinnacle, all
don't just ride the haute route help save lives while you are doing it Sign up to help team type 1 & benefit from incentives that make your haute route entry cheaper
returning for a second or third Haute Route week â€“ your friends, colleagues and associates can be encouraged to sponsor you by donating funds to a worthy cause.
For the fourth year in succession the Haute Route Series
The Atlanta-based Team Type 1 Foundation was set up
is teaming up in 2017 with Team Type 1 Foundation
in 2005 with the aim of raising funds to help people in
to enable riders to raise money to help people with
the Third World with diabetes and also athletes who
diabetes in the Third World.
have the condition.
The idea of the official charity partnership is that while
The charity runs a pioneering programme in Rwanda
you are tackling the challenge of the Haute Route â€“
where seven out of every eight people with diabetes
perhaps achieving the athletic feat of a lifetime or
die before they are diagnosed. Over the last three years
Team Type 1 has worked with the Rwandan government
return for different levels of money raised. For example,
to distribute several million test strips and thousands of
at the European seven-day Haute Route events – the
blood glucose monitors to help children and others with
Haute Route Pyrenees, Alps or Dolomites – if a rider
type 1 diabetes to manage their condition.
raises $1,900 or more, he or she will be reimbursed for 2* hotel twin accommodation and receive a set of
The relationship between the Haute Route and Team
Team Type 1 kit (jersey and bib-shorts).
Type 1 started in 2014 when eight riders raised a total of $68,000. In 2015, 24 riders more than doubled
For those who raise $2,500 or more, you get your
that total to $146,000 while, last year, 32 riders across
entry fee plus a free set of Team Type 1 kit, while for
all the Haute Route events raised $280,000. That
those who manage more than $5,500, you get all of
means the partnership has raised just under $500,000
that plus your 2* hotel accommodation paid for. There
in three years.
is an even bigger package for those who raise even more than that and similar packages are on offer for
This year Team Type 1 is hoping that up to 45 riders will
the Mavic Haute Route Rockies and the three-day Haute
sign up and raise even more money as the Haute Route
Route events at Ventoux and Alpe d’Huez.
spreads its wings to take in the Mavic Haute Route Rockies for the first time. Dick Brown, executive director
“You can get in touch with us at any point – after you
of the charity, says riding for Team Type 1 gives people
have entered the Haute Route or before. It’s a great
an extra dimension.
opportunity to raise money and help save lives but then also benefit by lowering your cost to take part in the
“Riding the Haute Route with Team Type 1 allows you
Haute Route,” says Brown. He added that Team Type 1
to ride with a bigger purpose,” said Brown. “For an
riders are free to ride singly or as part of their own team
individual the Haute Route is a Bucket List challenge,
or under Team Type 1’s own banner.
a personal goal or a challenge of a lifetime. That is all great and we should all be striving for those things in
To do your bit to help children and others in the Third
our lives. But when you combine personal goals with
World with diabetes and to register for charity rider
helping to save lives, how much more fulfilling can
status at your Haute Route, contact Dick Brown by
email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
When you register with Team Type 1, the charity gives you access to your own webpage that you can customise with pictures, video and your own story explaining how you got to the startline of your Haute Route. From there you can easily launch your fundraising effort and perhaps contribute to breaking Team Type 1’s annual record for total money raised by Haute Route cyclists. A remarkable feature of the partnership is that Team Type 1 offers attractive financial incentives to riders in
what to bring on the haute route
Cycling is well known for its clothing and equipment requirements; getting ready for a cold ride can take up to half an hour by the time youâ€™ve got all your kit and prepped your bike. Riding the Haute Route requires you to be equipped for all conditions, and ready for all eventualities. Here is a list of the equipment we recommend you bring on the event to cover all possible situations:
clothing on the bike
off the bike
Spare derailleur hanger
Other spares (inner tubes etc)
Garmin or similar + charger
Towel for massage
Gloves and winter gloves
Lots of km in the legs...
And, a sense of humour!
Leg warmers (knee warmers) Cycling shoes and socks
the haute route 2017 courses 73
mavic haute route
rockies jim rutberg, cts 74
high-altitude showcase of the best climbs in
decrease by about 10% at altitudes above about
Colorado. The inaugural Mavic Haute Route
6,500 feet (2,000 meters), and maybe more at
Rockies has everything a cyclist could want. The
higher elevations. Recovering from hard efforts
course features giant climbs, sweeping descents,
takes longer at higher elevations, so be careful
and unparalleled views. On some days the lowest
about digging deep. If you don’t know how you
elevation will be higher above sea level than the
will respond at altitude, the best advice is to learn
highest passes in Europe, and you’ll ride up to into
to gauge your effort by perceived effort. Trying
the rarified air above 12,000 feet (3,658 meters)
to achieve specific power outputs can be a fool’s
errand if you’re unfamiliar with how high altitude
Pyrenees and Dolomites, the passes featured in the
affects your performance.
Mavic Haute Route Rockies will have wide roads and relatively gentle grades, but in the Rockies we make
The best things you can do to combat the challenges
up for that with both elevation and climbing mileage.
of high-altitude riding are staying hydrated and coming into the event in the best physical condition
Be prepared for varied surfaces, as well. There are
possible. Everyone’s power output will decrease at
plenty of dirt roads included in the course. You won’t
higher elevations, but with better fitness that decrease
need any special equipment for the dirt/gravel
is starting from a higher level. The air at higher
roads featured in the Mavic Haute Route Rockies. At
elevations is drier than air at lower elevations, and
most, a slightly higher-volume tire (700x25 or 28)
the lack of humidity means you will dehydrate faster.
would be helpful. For those unaccustomed to the
This is true on and off the bike, so expect and train
altitude, pacing and hydration will be the biggest
to consume more fluids on and off the bike during
challenges. Your maximum sustainable power will
stage one boulder - boulder saturday 24th june | 69 miles | 6,280 feet (112km | 1,900M+)
he Rocky Mountains don’t have foothills. You
Once on Peak-to-Peak Highway, you’ll roll along
go from flat ground to big climbs all at once,
at 9100-9300 feet (2700-2800m) in elevation
and that is true for Stage 1 of the Mavic Haute
until you reach the 20-mile point into the stage.
Route Rockies. Within 2 miles of the start you will
The good news is the stage is predominantly
be on the climb of Sunshine Canyon. This 9-mile
downhill from here. From mile 20 to 50 you will
(19.5 km) ascent gains approximately 2940 feet
descend from 9300 feet to 5100 feet, with only
(approx. 900m) before you reach Gold Hill. There’s
a few short climbs to break up your rhythm. Save
a short reprieve, but don’t get complacent. You
some energy, though, because the final 20 miles
have another 1100 feet (335m) to climb over about
(approx. 32km) are very slightly uphill and feature
7 miles (11km) to reach the Peak-to-Peak Highway.
stage two boulder - winter park sunday 25th june | 80 miles | 10,880 feet (129km | 3,300M+)
fter riding stages one and two of the Mavic
You will be climbing from the moment you reach the
Haute Route Rockies, you will probably have
bike path alongside Interstate 70 until you reach
a good idea why Boulder, Colorado is home to a
the summit of Berthoud Pass. While there are a
large number of professional cyclists, triathletes, and
few short reprieves along the way, you will climb
runners. For the start of Stage 2, you will ascend
approximately 4,000 feet (1,200m) over the next
about 2,600 feet (790m) up Boulder’s steepest paved
27 miles (43km) to reach the 11,307-foot (3,446m)
road, Magnolia Drive. Ranked as a ‘cat 1’ climb, the
summit of Berthoud Pass. For the first 11 or so miles
paved 4.47 miles (7km) averages a 9.8% grade, with
(18km) you will be on a bike path that twists and
the bottom quarter-mile averaging 14.75%. This 4.5-
turns as it follows the fast-moving creek and faster-
mile kicker ends and turns into a slow, 7-mile (11km)
moving highway. The route splits from the highway
dirt jaunt before the route turns south on Peak-to-Peak
as you approach the tiny town of Empire. This is the
Highway. Along Peak-to-Peak Highway, you will
gateway to Berthoud Pass, a climb that starts with a
encounter a series of short climbs that incrementally
gradual ascent along the valley and then kicks up
bring you up to about 9,300 feet (2,800m) above
sharply at the first switchback. When you hit this first
sea level. A short, but welcome descent is followed by
switchback, you have about 5.5 miles (9km) left to
another quiet dirt road climb behind Central City, and
climb. As with most passes in Colorado, the grades
finally a relaxing drop down to Idaho Springs.
are not very steep, but you will ascend from about
9,500 feet (2,895m) to nearly 11,000 feet (3,350m)
Be very cognizant of recovery and hydration after
from the first switchback to the summit.
Stage 2. You will be sleeping at nearly 9,000 feet (2,750m) above sea level, and the elevation and
The descent off Berthoud Pass is well worth the
dry air make it more difficult to stay hydrated.
effort to get to the summit. There are a few fun twists
Some people have trouble sleeping at this altitude,
and turns as well as steep straightaways with good
a problem that will only be exacerbated by having
visibility so you can release the brakes and go. Have
a headache from being dehydrated. For the sake
fun, but donâ€™t be reckless. You still have several days
of the days to come, prioritize rest and hydration
and many more climbs and descents to enjoy.
during the afternoon and evening.
stage three winter park - avon monday 26th june | 95 miles | 6,630 feet (153km | 2,000m+)
tage 3 starts out with a nice, gentle rollout, but this
(6.4km) descent to Hot Sulphur Springs isnâ€™t technical
stage has its first big challenge roughly 16 miles
or that rough, but it can be tricky nonetheless.
(26km) in. About 13 miles (21km) into the stage, keep your eyes out for a sign on the left side of the road
If the wind is coming from the east, the next segment
for Snow Mountain Ranch. Immediately after that sign
of the course will be fast and fun. Westerly winds will
you will begin a fast descent. At about Mile 16, youâ€™ll
mean the exact opposite, because the road from Hot
take a left turn onto a dirt road. From the turn to the
Sulphur Springs to Kremmling is wide and open as
summit of Cottonwood Pass is 5.3 miles (8.5km), with
you roll through flowing grasslands. What follows is
the steepest portion waiting for you in the final two
a series of three 2- to 3-mile (3.2 to 4.8km) climbs as
miles. While this climb may be a great place to split
you make your way to State Bridge. Once you reach
the peloton into groups, you better like descending
the top of the third climb, about 62 miles (100km)
on gravel if you want to stay in the front. The 4-mile
into the stage, use the following descent and valley
road to fuel and hydrate. Your next challenge awaits
After descending into Wolcott, youâ€™ll face a scenic
on the other side of the Colorado River.
but challenging false flat as you gradually climb to the finish in Avon. For those of you who are into
State Bridge is a beautiful crossing of the Colorado
sprinting for the finish line, this will be a relatively
River, and it also marks the start of a 5-mile (5km) climb
technical finish. With less than a mile to go, you will
on the way to Wolcott. When this climb was used
ride left through a roundabout, cross the Eagle River,
in the 2013 USA Pro Challenge, Lawson Craddock
take the next left, and then sweep through a right
claimed the Strava KOM with a time of 19:52. So
turn and over railroad tracks to line up for the final
settle in. This one is not going to be quick.
few hundred meters.
stage four avon - avon tuesday 27th june | 16.1 miles | 2,300 feet (26km | 700m+)
on’t worry about not having a time trial bike
After a rolling first 4 miles (6.5km), you’ll take a
for Stage 4, you won’t need it. You’re in the
right turn on Buck Creek Road to begin a roughly
mountains, and this 16.1-mile (26km) Individual
2.2-mile (3.5km) climb. The suffering will be worth
Time Trial features 2,300 feet (700m) of climbing.
it, however, because the ripping descent which
follows will test your handling skills with four
untimed, so there is no reason to take risks. Check
switchbacks. Catch your breath on the descent
your speed coming into a 90-degree left turn at the
before immediately starting up a roughly 2.5-mile
bottom of Metcalf Road.
(4km) climb to the finish of the Time Trial, at nearly 8,700 feet (2650m) above sea level.
Unlike a flat out-and-back test against the clock, the Avon Time Trial will reward both climbing power
Once youâ€™re done with the big effort, you get
and descending skill. If youâ€™re not all that interested
to enjoy a great 3.5-mile (5.6km) descent that
in your finishing time, enjoy the views from the
drops approximately 1,200 feet (365m), the final
summits, the sweeping switchbacks on the descents,
1.3-miles (2km) of which is a nearly dead-straight
and a lower-mileage day on the bike to get ready
plunge back toward the Eagle River. This section is
for the days to come.
stage five avon - snowmass village wednesday 28th june | 102 miles | 8,850 feet (164km | 2,700m+) efore describing Stage 5, it is important to
The start of the climb up Independence Pass is the
recognize the next two days may be the hardest
little town of Twin Lakes, Colorado. Don’t blink or you
riding you have ever done. Every event has a “Queen
might miss it.
Stage”, but it is difficult to determine whether it will be Stage 5 or Stage 6, because both qualify. Good luck.
Independence Pass is a monster of a climb. The start is at about 9,100 feet (2,770m) above sea level, higher
Stage 5 features three prominent climbs: Battle Mountain,
than the highest summit reached in the Tour de France.
Tennessee Pass, and the monstrous Independence Pass.
The Strava KOM on Indy is 52:30, set during the
Battle Mountain played a pivotal role in Jens Voigt’s
2012 USA Pro Challenge. This climb routinely takes
USA Pro Challenge stage win into Beaver Creek
moderately fit cyclists two hours to climb – or longer.
(although you’ll be going up the side he descended),
To reach the 12,095-foot (3,687m) summit you must
and Independence Pass was featured frequently in the
ascend nearly 3,000 feet (915m) over just short of
race. Although Battle Mountain and Tennessee Pass
16 miles (26km). Because of the elevation, you will
are two separate climbs, it might be better to consider
experience a serious penalty for pushing too hard.
the first 27 miles (44km) of Stage 5 as one big climb
Your climbing power will diminish 10% or more, and
with a short reprieve after about 13 miles (21km).
recovery from hard efforts will be difficult and take longer than normal. Perceived exertion is your best
After reaching the top of Tennessee Pass at 10,424 feet
gauge of intensity at this elevation.
(3,177m) you can try to recover over the next 9 miles (15km) or so before facing a short kicker to get into
You also need to be prepared for snow, hail,
Leadville, Colorado. At 10,200 feet (3,100m) above
thunderstorms, and cold temperatures. In June there
sea level, Leadville is the highest city in the United
are often afternoon thunderstorms at high elevations.
States, even more so since recreational marijuana
Temperatures can drop 30 degrees in a matter of
use was legalized in Colorado. Leadville is a historic
minutes and the rain itself is not a warm summer
boom-and-bust mining town, and after the last mining
shower. It can be surprisingly cold. You can start the
bust local Ken Chlouber started the Leadville Race
climb in warm sun and ride into a snow squall or a
Series, which includes the iconic 100-mile Leadville
painful hailstorm. Be prepared. At minimum, carrying
100 Mountain Bike Race and Leadville 100 Run.
a jacket, warm full-finger gloves, and a skull cap should be considered mandatory.
Once you reach Leadville you can enjoy a 10-mile (16km) gradual descent before hitting a short dirt-road
The view and experience of riding to 12,095 feet
climb. When you reach an inviting blue reservoir on
(3,687m) above sea level and reaching the summit
your right, you have also reached the last descent you
of Independence Pass is beyond compare, but don’t
will get before climbing up Independence Pass. Use
linger too long gazing at the amazing lakes at the top.
On the warmest, sunniest day the descent to Aspen
can be bone-chilling cold. If you reach the summit in
Rolling into Aspen feels like returning to civilization after
poor weather, it is essential to proceed down to a
a trip through the wilderness, but donâ€™t get complacent.
lower altitude quickly.
The cruelest joke of Stage 5 is the finish. After braving Indy and glimpsing the luxuries of Aspen, you still have
There are spectacular sights and road conditions on
one more climb awaiting you. After passing by quite
the way down Independence Pass. You will descend
possibly the largest concentration of private jets at the
from high-altitude treeless tundra into pine and aspen
Aspen Airport, you will start the climb to Snowmass
groves, and because the road was carved into the side
Village. A molehill compared to what you have
of the mountain there are sections that are a single-
already conquered, it will still be challenging due to
lane wide with rock on one side and a sheer cliff on
the elevation and the 90+ miles (145km) in your legs.
the other. Having earned your way to the summit, be
Fortunately, you will have beautiful scenery to distract
sure to enjoy the descent.
you from the feeling in your legs.
stage six snowmass village - crested butte thursday 29th june | 106 miles | 9,970 feet (170km | 3,000m+)
ven though Stage 5 hit a high point above
summit of McClure Pass. The good news is this a
12,000 feet (3,650m) in elevation, Stage 6 will
beautiful climb along the Crystal River, and the climb
feature the second most climbing of the Mavic Haute
only kicks up to a difficult pitch for the final 2.5 miles
Route Rockies stages. And it will start from Mile
(4km) past the one major switchback in the climb.
Zero. Instead of descending back to the valley road
Once you reach the summit of McClure Pass, enjoy
from Snowmass Village, you’re going up. Thankfully
the roughly 18-mile (29km) descent because the next
it’s only about 2 miles (3.2km), followed by a
24 miles (39km) are going to hurt.
descent that’s a mixture of gravel and pavement. The hardest part of the first 20 miles (32km) of
Kebler Pass is equal parts beautiful and tortuous. The
Stage 6 is likely to be thermoregulation. Mornings
vast majority of the climb is dirt and the views and
in the Rockies are cold, but you’ll warm up quickly
sense of solitude are amazing – for the first hour.
on the initial climb. Instead of removing layers, just
During the second hour you’re likely to question your
open them up, because the longer descents will still
sanity and whether your life insurance is paid up.
be cold. Consider long finger gloves as well.
Based on the length of this stage, this climb is another place where weather may come into play. During the
When you reach Highway 133, you will be at the
2014 USA Pro Challenge, the peloton was caught in
beginning of a 22-mile (35km) gradual climb to the
a thunderstorm and hailstorm on Kebler Pass. It got
so bad the officials brought the race to a halt on the
the descent to Crested Butte. As you reach the town
descent. Robin Carpenter, the solo breakaway rider
of Crested Butte, donâ€™t make the mistake of thinking
on the stage, pounded food during the unexpected
youâ€™re done. Once you ride through the town you
break in the action, and then proceeded to maintain
are still about 2 miles (3.2km) from the finish at
his advantage once racing resumed, winning the
Mount Crested Butte Ski Resort, which is also about
stage - which finished at the same spot you will finish
500 feet (150m) higher in elevation. The final mile
Stage 6 of the Mavic Haute Route Rockies.
is where the climb to the finish really stings. This may not look like a summit finish, but it absolutely
The final portion of the Kebler Pass is on pavement,
feels like one.
but then the road turns back to dirt partway down
stage seven colorado springs - colorado springs friday 30th june | 44 miles | 4,590 feet (70km | 1,400m+)
he circuit for Stage 7 of the Mavic Haute Route
When the gravel gives way to pavement at the top
Rockies will take you on a tour of many of the
of North Cheyenne Canon, get ready for a fun and narrow 3.1-mile (5km) descent. The road you’re
best roads and views in Colorado Springs.
descending has long been used by USA Cycling as a climbing test for aspiring champions.
First, you’re going to start and finish in Garden of the Gods, a striking geological structure dating back to the origin of the Rocky Mountains. From there
After descending from Cheyenne Canon, Stage 7
you’ll climb through the switchbacks of 26th Street.
will take you back uphill to circumnavigate the world-
Remember them, you’ll be descending through them
famous Broadmoor Hotel and Resort. In doing so
later in the stage. The 26th Street/Gold Camp Road
you will climb until you almost reach the Cheyenne
climb will be the longest climb of the day at about
Mountain Zoo, the highest zoo in the United States.
7 miles (11km) total. The hardest part is the first two miles (3.2km). After that the grade is pretty gentle.
Stage 7 will take you by the Broadmoor Golf Course
The final 2.4 miles (3.8km) are on gravel, following
and through the resort itself before turning on
an old railroad grade from the area’s gold mining
Cresta Road to head back north. After some rolling
heyday. This section also includes two tunnels
hills you will get the chance to descend through the
blasted through the granite canyon walls.
26th Street switchbacks you climbed earlier in the
day, and then climb up Mesa Road. If you have a
The south side is not terrible, but after completing
chance, look to your left as you reach the top of
the turnaround on Centennial Road and returning to
Mesa Road for perhaps the best view of Garden of
Flying W you have to go up the north side, which
the Gods with Pikes Peak in the background.
is terrible. The only saving grace of having to climb the north side of Flying W Ranch Road is the fact
Following a very quick descent from the top of
it is the last substantial climb of the entire 2017
Mesa Road you will start the out-and-back section
Mavic Haute Route Rockies. With the exception of
of Stage 7. The main challenge of this section is
one small rise, itâ€™s a downhill cruise to the finish in
climbing Flying W Ranch Road in both directions.
Garden of the Gods.
marvin faure & olivier dulaurent, alpine cols 90
91 © LAURENT SALINO: ALPE D’HUEZ TOURISME
stage one alpe d'huez wednesday 12th july | 16km | 1,135m+
here’s no hanging about, the Haute Route Alpe
So what is it like, the climb up the famous 21 bends
d’Huez starts with a bang! The first stage is a
to Alpe d’Huez?
time-trial up the famous 21 bends. On the face of it, it doesn’t sound too bad. The raw The climb to Alpe d’Huez is probably the best known
numbers are 13.2km, 1,071m and 8.1%. Sounds
and most iconic climb in cycling. Marco Pantani holds
OK? The gradient is a bit steep at 8.1%, but certainly
the record for the ascent, climbing it in 37 minutes
doable, right? Think again and let’s look at the detail.
and 35 seconds during the 1997 Tour de France. The best-known moment, however, is surely Bernard
The road is totally flat from the start ramp in the centre
Hinault and Greg LeMond arriving hand-in-hand in
of Bourg d’Oisans to the foot of the climb. You turn
1986, their smiles papering over their intense rivalry
the corner and then bam! You are straight onto the
within the same team..
first of a series of steep ramps. The slope for the first
3km of the climb averages 10.4%, but the hairpin
and a final one as you pass the cemetery at Saint-
bends at the end of each ramp are flat, meaning the
Ferréol, just before the village of Huez.
ramps themselves are at 11%-12%. This is small ring, big cog territory.
The rest of the climb is relentless, the gradient almost never dropping below 8.5%, until you arrive at last
The first let-up is after about 3km at the village of
in the village of Alpe d’Huez. You pass through the
La Garde, bend 16, where you can enjoy 200m of
tunnel and the slope flattens off a bit for the final
gentle slope. The road soon ramps up again. There’s
kilometre. After the final roundabout there’s only a
a second let-up 2km further up at Le Ribot d’en Bas,
300m uphill sprint to do and it’s all over.
stage two alpe d'huez thursday 13th july | 152km | 4,300m+
tage 2 is a tough day on the bike. The stage
Like its sister the Glandon, this is a classic Alpine
begins in Alpe d’Huez. The first 18km are
climb with plenty of history. The route from St Jean de
untimed as we descend the spectacular and narrow
Maurienne is 30km long, for 1,522m of ascent, at an
cliff-edge road through Villard-Reculaz to the dam at
average (but meaningless) gradient of 5.5%.
Verney. Once over the timing mat, it won’t take long for the climb to the col du Glandon (1,924m) to begin
The climb is very irregular with 3 steep sections,
two descents and one moderate section. It can be considered in 4 parts:
There are 22 km to climb to the col, 1100m higher up. The first six kilometres, to the village of Rivier
Part 1 is 4km long and takes us from St Jean de
d’Allemond, are steep. At the exit of the village riders
Maurienne to Pierrepin, where the road levels off
are often surprised by a brief flat section followed by
and descends gently for the next three kilometres. The
a steep sinuous descent with several hairpins and then
first 4km are steep and may come as an unwelcome
what may best be described as a short, sharp shock
surprise after the long descent from the Glandon:
of more than 13% to climb. Be prudent…
The remainder of the climb to the col is easier. The
Part 2 begins at the end of the descent from Pierrepin.
slope is around 6% and several flatter sections are
The road becomes much steeper and you will have to
good for recovery. It is just long, very long…
tackle 5km at around 9% before another respite.
The first part of the descent from the Glandon is
Part 3 is the moderate section: 7km at an average
steep, technically difficult and dangerous. After
slope varying between 3% and 5% until the exit of the
the first 3km the descent is less steep but it remains
village of St Sorlan.
dangerous in places. The challenge is to stay concentrated from the start to the end of the 20km
Part 4 is the final, magnificent steep section winding
descent, which will take you 25 minutes or so. If you
up above the village in a series of switchbacks to the
are accustomed to long Alpine descents, all well
summit at 2067m. These last 7km vary in slope from
and good; if not, be careful!
7.5% to 10%. By now the end is in sight and you are rewarded for your effort by the stunning views across
There’s a 10km gentle false flat ride along the valley
the high mountains.
floor between the right turn at St Jean de Maurienne where we turn right again and start the climb to the col
This is not an easy climb to manage, thanks to the
de la Croix de Fer (2067m).
irregular nature. Try to maintain a steady pace at
a stable power output, changing gears as often as
descent: this is an excellent place for your legs to
necessary to stay at a comfortable cadence. Stand up
cramp if you attack it too hard! To minimise the risk,
regularly when the slope increases, but always at a
use your lowest gears and spin at a high cadence.
lower cadence than when you are seated. It is a long climb so it is essential to eat and drink regularly. Once
Once over the dam at the bottom, you have 18km to
at the top make a short stop to put on a windproof
go to the finish. You can look forward to a couple of
jacket and eat something.
kilometres of easy descending around Villard-Reculaz. For the rest, it is relentless, between 7% and 9%.
You’ll recognise the descent from earlier in the day: we now retrace our tracks all the way to Alpe d’Huez.
Keep something in reserve: there’s another tough
Beware the short, steep climb in the middle of the
stage three alpe d'huez friday 14th july | 78km | 3,300m+
he final stage of the Haute Route Alpe d’Huez
The steepest part of the climb to Les Deux Alpes
looks a little easier than Stage 2, but it conceals
is the first three kilometres, before it eases off and
a few surprises: forewarned is forearmed, this will
then settles into a steadier gradient up through the
be another hard day out!
switchbacks. The first part varies between 8% and 10%. The second part is a more comfortable 7%
The stage starts in the centre of Bourg d’Oisans,
to 8%. The loop around the village is mostly flat,
and then heads straight up the first 3km of the climb
before returning down the same road for the first
to Alpe d‘Huez. As you will remember from Stage
half of the descent.
1, the ramps are steep. We turn off the main road at La Garde and enjoy a short respite before the
About half way down at Bons we will continue
climb resumes up the side of the valley, heading
straight on down through Mont de Lans and
south-east. The road tops out at the left-hand bend
over the Chambon dam to the foot of the col de
where we come around the flank of the mountain
and begin a short, two-step descent to Le Freney d’Oisans, where we turn south, cross the Romanche
The climb from the dam to the col de Sarenne is
river at the bottom of the valley and begin up the
12.8km at an average of 7.5%. This average
other side to Les Deux Alpes.
includes 3km of almost-flat or descent, so you can
guess what the rest is like. The first kilometre is the
two steps through and below Alpe d’Huez to turn
steepest: 11% average until Mizoën, but in reality it
around and pick up the last four bends coming
is 13% on the ramps, easing off in the bends. Once
back. In an unusual twist we will then go on through
through Mizoën the worst is over in terms of slope,
the normal finish line and carry on for another 4km
but there are still 800m to climb to the summit.
and 270m higher up to the finish at Lac Besson.
There’s a very welcome flat stretch after 2km and another false flat after 4km. The last 7km, however,
And that’s it! Time to celebrate your successful
seem interminable, especially with tired legs. The
completion of the Haute Route Alpe d’Huez: you
scenery is magnificent, so do your best to enjoy it!
have survived tough three days of cycling over
Once over the col de Sarenne we will descend in
some of the most iconic climbs in France.
yannick drangowski, alpine cols 98
et ready for another festival of cycling on narrow
Here are the key features of the 2017 edition:
roads, wild country and steep climbs! Once
• Two summit finishes: the first on the short but in
again the organisers are serving up a good helping
places brutally steep Col du Portillon on stage 4
of the best the Pyrenees have to offer, in a very
and the second on the equally tough climb to the
challenging event designed to suit the climbers. The
Hospices de France on Stage 6;
Haute Route Pyrenees is the most rustic and naturally beautiful Haute Route event boasting spectacular
• The time trial on Superbagnères, used for time
scenery and a rich small-town backdrop at one with
trials by the Tour de France in 1962, won by the
‘Eagle of Toledo’ Federico Bahamontes and again in 1979 when the Badger in person took the honours;
You will ride a total of 910 kilometres and climb 19,300 metres over seven timed and ranked
• Practically every iconic climb in the western
stages. As always the majestic Col du Tourmalet is
Pyrenees is included. One of the few missing is the
the centerpiece and the highest point of the week,
Hourquette d’Ancizan, but since we climbed it twice
but there are plenty of other climbs on quiet roads,
in 2016 this is not too great a loss;
surrounded by wildlife and unspoilt terrain, which showcase the Pyrenees at their best.
• Two nights in Pau and three nights in Bagnères-deLuchon are very welcome, reducing considerably
Whether you are looking to compete, to enjoy a
the fatigue due to changing hotels every night.
momentous week in one of Europe’s most iconic and beautiful cycling regions or simply aiming to get this
The bottom line: get plenty of climbing in between
epic challenge ticked off, the Haute Route Pyrenees
now and next August, come with a big cassette and
will be a week to remember.
enjoy one of the biggest challenges in cycling.
stage one anglet - oloron sainte-marie sunday 13th august | 174km | 3,400m+
ow classic for the start of the Haute Route
innumerable short steep climbs make it hard to get
Pyrenees, the Basque country sets the tone
into a rhythm over the 70km or so leading to the
with a very tough first stage. The rolling hills with
first major climb, the Col de Bargagui (1,327m).
Beware, the first part of the climb includes the Col
careful here, it’s dangerous. You’ll need to stay
de Burdincurutcheta (1,135m), as hard to climb as
vigilant all the way to Oloron Sainte-Marie and
it is to pronounce. You’ll need the small ring to get
keep your eyes open for the pitfalls. It often rains
up 4km at 10%. Narrow road, steep slopes, wild
in this region and if it happens on the day, you will
countryside, this is a great way to get started before
remember this stage all your life!
the big one of the day, the Col du Soudet (1,542m). This is a long climb, well known for the ever-changing
In a welcome change from the past two years,
gradient and the battle to subdue the 12% slopes.
the transfer to Pau should only take 45 minutes. It would be a pity not to take a quick look around the
The final descent to Oloron Sainte-Marie would be
town first, however, an old Roman town with a lot
a formality if we weren’t in the Basque country: be
stage two pau - pau monday 14th august | 157km | 2,800m+
et’s do it again, like we did last summer… Stage
Col de Marie-Blanque (1,035m). Just over 1,000m
2 is a repeat of Stage 2 in 2015 and most of
high, doesn’t sound much does it? And yet… Marie-
last year’s Stage 2. Hard to complain however, it is
Blanque is one for the pure climbers, the 55kg
a classic Pyrenean ride with amazing scenery and
lightweights who fly up the steepest slopes. If this
three iconic climbs. But first we must ride from Pau
applies to you, you can look forward to the 4km
to the mountains: a 50km roller-coaster ride similar
wall at 11-12%. If not, make sure you bring the
to Stage 1 brings us to Escot and the foot of the
The descent will bring us to the majestic Col
The descent is breathtaking, especially around the
d’Aubisque (1,709m). This is one of the monuments
Cirque du Litor. The road is literally carved into
of the Tour de France, and one of cycling’s greatest
the side of the steep slopes. Better not to miss a
climbs. The first part through the forest to the hot
corner. The last few kilometres climbing to the Col
springs at Eaux-Bonnes is straightforward. The
du Soulor (1,474m) don’t present any challenge but
road then gets steeper before a short respite in the
are absolutely magic for their natural beauty.
ski station of Gourette. From there on, we change sides, enter the high mountains and enjoy a regular
There’s a vertiginous descent from the col before the
climb, with magnificent views over the Ossau valley
long slog back out to Pau.
before the road flattens out at the summit.
stage three pau - tarbes tuesday 15th august | 152km | 3,100m+
nother long stage, with the climbs concentrated
we are taking the scenic route… Only two climbs
in the middle. Tarbes – visited for the first time
today, but big ones both. The approach to the
on the Haute Route – is only 45km from Pau, but
Col de Spandelles (1,378m) is up a long, narrow
valley before the climb proper, just over 10km at
we’ll cross it west to east, from Luz Saint-Sauveur
an average of 8.4%, with ramps at 10% and more,
to Sainte-Marie-de-Campan. Long and difficult, it
again and again! The road is narrow and bucolic.
merits its legendary status.
Beware of the dangerous descent to Argelès-Gazost, which will certainly be neutralised.
The descent is steep and fast until Sainte-Mariede-Campan, often dangerous with livestock on the
We’ve written extensively about the Col du Tourmalet
road, and then more of a false flat until Bagnères-
(2,117m) elsewhere. Certainly the most famous
de-Bigorre. From here it is only another 25km to
climb in the Pyrenees, the col has been used more
Tarbes, but be ready to stand up on the pedals, it is
often by the Tour de France than any other. This time
by no means all flat.
stage four tarbes - col du potillon wednesday 16th august | 123km | 3,900m+
on’t be fooled by the shorter distance. This is
punctuate the approach. Take advantage of the
a huge amount to swallow in one day, and
summit to admire the view and the steep descent,
the Col du Portillon for dessert is likely to give
which brings us down to the Vallée de l’Aure and
indigestion to some.
a short respite of 10km to spin the legs for the last time today. From now on there are three climbs in succession with no transition.
The day begins by returning back up the valley to Bagnères-de-Bigorre and Sainte-Marie-de-Campan,
The climb to the Col d’Azet (1,580m) is on a typical
where the real hostilities begin.
narrow Pyrenean road, 10km at 7.5%. Over the top The climb to the Col d’Aspin (1,489m) is the easiest
we go for a fast descent before banging our heads
of the day, in spite of a few steeper pitches that
up against the Peyresourde (1,569m). Unusually for
the region, this climb is very regular, at a steady
We’ll arrive in Bagnères-de-Luchon like a TGV
7%, and the road is wide and in good condition.
but immediately run up against a wall, the Col du
As such, it sometimes gives the disagreeable
Portillon (1,293m). If you want to go to Spain you
impression of cycling through treacle…
are on the right road, but before sitting down to a plate of tapas you’ll have to make a serious effort.
Who can forget Chris Froome’s remarkable descent down the other side during the 2016 Tour, when
The climb is fairly short, at 10km, but very irregular
he surprised everybody by attacking over the
with numerous ramps at 10% and even 14%. On a
summit? You have been warned – the descent is
hot day the shady forest and many waterfalls are
ultra-rapid: don’t forget to brake when you reach
the switchbacks above Saint-Aventin.
stage five bagneres-de-luchon - superbagneres thursday 17th august | 18km | 1,170m+
agnères-de-Luchon is a great place to be for the
the same way to the Hospice de France planned
time trial. This is the stage that many people
for Stage 6. The road is wide and very irregular,
treat as a rest day. If you look up from the centre
with an initial ramp at 10%. The road then forks
of the town, you’ll see the cable-car pylons leading
right into the vallée du Lys and initially climbs in
to Superbagnères (1,860m). Yes, it’s up there
a straight line, but with just as much irregularity,
you have to go, 1,170m higher up, on your bike.
before a few life-saving switchbacks. This is the
Looking at the slope on this side of the mountain,
hardest part to get through. Once out of the forest
you’ll soon understand why the road curves around
you can attack the final part, where a magnificent
behind to find a way up. It’s a great climb, in three
view will perhaps make you overlook the difficulty
parts. The first is the circumvention of the mountain,
of the final kilometre.
stage six bagneres-de-luchon - hospice de france friday 18th august | 130km | 3,600m+
oday is a massive one, and it starts from km Zero.
bit less for those who don’t enjoy steep slopes. Look
First up is the Port de Balès (1,755m). Expect
out for the descent, the road is steep and in poor
20km of climbing, initially quite steady, then quickly
condition and it would be best not to miss one of the
becoming steep and variable, like so many Pyrenean
many bends that tighten up sharply.
climbs. You’ll soon be left to your own devices to toil up alone in the way only cyclists truly appreciate. It’s
The Col des Ares (797m) follows on rapidly, nothing
a lovely climb for the wild, natural feel, perhaps a
to write home about, and the same can be said for
the Col de Buret (599m) that some probably won’t
Back to Luchon, but take advantage of the flat to
even notice.After another short descent you’ll ride
spin your legs, because the Directeur Sportif has
through a narrow, damp valley, beautifully cool
kept a nice little surprise up his sleeve for the end.
in the summer, which brings you to a crossroads
The Hospice de France (1,379m) is a well-known
where two of the big Tour de France climbs begin.
place for hikers, but not many people dare go up
Today you’ll leave the Portet d’Aspet on your left to
there by bike, especially after 120km and 4 other
attack the Col de Menté (1,349m) on your right. It’s
climbs… Check the climb profile on the internet, the
not a huge climb but will certainly hurt your legs
last 3km are drenched in red ink, never a good
and won’t amuse everybody with its slopes at more
sign! Bon courage as we say in French!
stage seven bagneres-de-luchon - toulouse saturday 19th august | 156km | 1,300m+
t is a long way out of the mountains to Toulouse,
(1,349m), that we will have climbed in the other
and the only serious barrier is the Col de MentĂŠ
direction the previous day during Stage 6. You
might therefore be tempted to think that once over
these need to be taken seriously. Be ready for the
the col â€“ a minor matter of 10km at 9% - itâ€™s all over
change in pedalling style, very different between
bar the shouting.
the mountains and the plain. Your legs could be very surprised by the effort needed to get to the
The reality is quite different. The foothills of the
finish line in Toulouse.
Pyrenees are far from easy and numerous climbs are hidden in the plain on the way to Toulouse. Over the
The best strategy is to join a group of at least ten
millenia the river Garonne has carved out several
persons of the same level, and ride to the finish
alternative river beds and valleys that have to be
together. Donâ€™t forget to buy a beer for whoever
crossed, and after a week in the high mountains,
pulls the hardest!
alps haute route
marvin faure, alpine cols 114
iscovering the details of the Haute Route each
Villard Reculaz and finally via the 21 bends during
year is like Christmas: much excitement and
the time-trial on Stage 4.
anticipation, perhaps a little trepidation too! There’s You would be well-advised to ride this well within
no disappointment for 2017.
yourself, because Stage 5 is a real brute: 182km The organisers have done a great job of innovating
and 4500m from Alpe d‘Huez to Megève over the
while reinforcing the DNA of the Haute Route Alps,
cols du Glandon, de la Madeleine and des Saisies,
which is now clearly positioned as the flagship
this last col being climbed by its hardest route.
event. At 894km and 22,200m of climbing, it is the toughest of the three European events and merits a
Stage 6, from Megève to Morzine, and Stage 7,
from Morzine to Geneva bring more welcome innovations. Instead of following the route of the
After two years of cycling up the Tinée valley and
2016 Etape du Tour to Morzine we will climb first
over the col de la Bonette, in 2017 the course takes
the col de l’Epine before the Colombière and the
a more westerly route and follows the river Var all
redoubtable Col de Joux Plane, and during the last
the way to its source at the Col de la Cayolle. This
day we will tackle four relatively short but tough
is a magnificent ride through the best of the Alpes-
climbs, beginning with the Col de l’Encrenaz and
Maritimes region, finishing with the ascent of Pra
the Col de la Ramaz.
Loup. Stage Two will be tough, including the Col de The rallying point is once again the lovely lakeside
Vars, d’Izoard and the Granon for a summit finish.
village of Yvoire – a great place to relax with a We then return to Alpe d’Huez, climbing it three
beer and a good meal before the ceremonial ride
different ways: first via the Col de Sarenne, then via
stage one nice - pra loup monday 21st august | 173km | 3,700m+
e’d like to call this a 4-1/2 star day: not quite
the river to Gilette and on to Ascros (1,160m), 30km
a 5 star, but definitely a very tough one. Wave
away and 1100m higher up. The road is typically
goodbye to the sea and enjoy the first few kilometres
Provençale, climbing steadily though a dry, rocky
of flat: almost the last you will see until the final stretch
landscape with little shade from the scattered trees
along the shores of Lake Geneva in 7 days time. But
and scrub. The professionals came down this road on
there are a few mountains to climb first…
Stage 6 of Paris-Nice in March 2016; this is where Andrew Talansky fell and had to abandon.
It will take a while to get out of Nice, especially as the first 20km up the river valley to Carros will be
There is a remarkable 12th century castle in Ascros,
neutralised. The real business gets started here, as we
take a look before starting the descent. After 17km
attack the first few switchbacks and climb up above
of descent, we are back to the banks of the river Var,
now some 400m above sea level. We follow it for
Enjoy an exhilarating, sinuous descent for 20km
the next 60km, almost to the summit of the Col de la
until Uvernet-Fours and the final climb to the finish in
Pra Loup. These last 6km would normally be easy, but after 167km and 3300m they are likely to be
The serious climbing starts in Entraunes, from where
anything but… This is where Eddie Merckx wore the
you will have 14.5km to climb at an average of
yellow jersey for the 96th and final time, losing almost
almost 8%. The road is spectacular, criss-crossing the
2’ to Bernard Thévenet, the new leader. The slope
narrow valley, diving in and out of short tunnels. Be
averages “only” 6.5% but varies between 5% and
prepared to suffer and make sure you drink enough,
8%. Save some energy so you can finish better than
especially if it is hot!
Eddie, described as a “wreck” by the Tour director!
stage two pra loup - col du granon tuesday 22nd august | 127km | 3,700m+
f you thought Stage 1 was hard, wait for Stage
There is a wonderful, fast descent off the back
2. The day starts easily enough with the short,
down to Guillestre, where we turn right and start
neutralised descent from Pra Loup. You’ll soon know
climbing again, direction the legendary Col d’Izoard
if you recovered well, however, because the leaders
(2,360m). There are 1,460m to climb over 30km,
will certainly set a good pace up the valley from
the first half being a long energy-sapping false flat.
Barcelonnette to Saint-Paul-sur-Ubaye and the foot of
The last 10km average 8%. Just to make things
the Col de Vars (2,109m). This is a tough one. The
easier the road is straight and seems never-ending.
climb is pretty irregular but easy enough for the first
The toughest part of the climb is a ramp of 12% in
6-7km, before getting a lot steeper for the last 5km.
the village of Brunissard, part of a long straight.
It’s important to get in a rhythm wherever possible,
The road then winds up for another 4km through
especially in the early part, and conserve energy for
a pine forest, the slope varying between 9% and
the final 5km. Bear in mind it is the first (and shortest)
11%, before a 500m descent opens up the amazing
of three major climbs today…
panorama of the ‘Casse déserte’, a lunar landscape
of broken rocks and scree just before the summit. This
The climb to the Col du Granon (2,413m) rises
is where all the classic pictures of the Col d’Izoard
over 1200m in 16.7km, at an average of 7.2%.
are taken: it is worth the trip for this alone. The
Unfortunately there are long stretches at 10-11%,
thrilling descent from the Izoard is long and fast,
making it one of the hardest climbs in the Alps. The
bringing us to Briançon. The ride through this busy
road surface is poor and being fully exposed to the
town will probably be neutralised, like in 2016. Take
sun it could be very hot. It would be easy to lose a
the opportunity to recover: the final climb of the day
great deal of time here if you do not manage your
is a brute. It was last used by the Haute Route for the
energy and especially your hydration and nutrition
time trial in 2015, and it was on these slopes that
well throughout the day. There’s maybe no shame
Greg Lemond sealed his supremacy over Bernard
in cracking on the same climb as the Badger, but it
Hinault in his final Tour.
would be a pity.
stage three serre chevalier - alpe d'huez wednesday 23rd august | 112km | 3,200m+
ithout taking a completely different route to the
ski capital of La Grave almost to Bourg d’Oisans
west, or going though Italy to the east, there’s
and the foot of Alpe d’Huez. Almost because the
no escaping the Col du Lautaret (2,058m). It is a
Directeur Sportif has another little surprise up his
long and tedious drag up the main road from Serre
sleeve: the climb to the Col de Sarenne (1,999m)
Chevalier to the col, often against a head wind.
which brings us into Alpe d’Huez by the back road,
Last year we turned right on the Lautaret to continue
so to speak. This has several advantages: there’s
up the Galibier; this year we will flip over the top
no traffic, it preserves the main road for the next
and ride hard and fast down through the extreme
day, and it preserves the Haute Route’s reputation…
Yes, this is another hard, hard climb. From the dam
longing glance, because the stage is far from over
it is 12.8km at an average of 7.5%. This average
yet. The route takes us all the way back down to the
includes 3km of almost-flat or descent, so you can
bottom, looping round and coming back up through
guess what the rest is like. The first kilometre is the
Villard-Reculaz, for another 1100m of climbing. The
steepest: 11% average until Mizoën, but in reality
road will be familiar to anyone who rode the epic
13% on the ramps, easing off in the bends... With
Courchevel to Alpe d’Huez stage in the pouring
tired legs the climb seems interminable, although
rain in 2014. Under better conditions it is a lovely
the scenery is magnificent.
climb, much easier than the 21 bends, and with fantastic views across the valley. It joins the main
Over the top there’s a short descent to Alpe d’Huez
road at bend 6 for the final 5km, for which you’ll
and the arrival village, at which you can cast a
need all the energy and motivation you can muster.
stage four bourg d'oisans - alpe d'huez thursday 24th august | 15.5km | 1,100m+
ho hasnâ€™t yet done the climb to Alpe dâ€™Huez?
brave souls will ignore what is to come on Stage 5
It seems to be on the must-do list of every
and throw everything into getting a good time, most
half-serious cyclist. It is a tough climb, on the main
sensible riders will take the time trial at a steady
road, often very hot, frankly more to be endured
endurance pace, conserving energy for the remaining
than enjoyed. Essential, nevertheless. While some
three days. Come back another time to set a record.
The road is totally flat from the start ramp in the centre
second let-up 2km further up at Le Ribot d’en Bas,and
of Bourg d’Oisans to the foot of the climb. You turn the
a final one as you pass the cemetery at Saint- Ferréol,
corner and then bam! You are straight onto the first
just before the village of Huez.
of a series of steep ramps. The slope for the first 3km of the climb averages 10.4%, but the hairpin bends
The rest of the climb is relentless, the gradient almost
at the end of each ramp are flat, meaning the ramps
never dropping below 8.5%, until you arrive at last in
themselves are at 11%-12%.
the village of Alpe d’Huez. You pass through the tunnel and the slope flattens off a bit for the final kilometre.
The first let-up is after about 3km at the village of
After the final roundabout there’s only a 300m uphill
La Garde, bend 16, where you can enjoy 200m of
sprint to do and it’s all over
gentle slope. The road soon ramps up again. There’s a
stage five alpe d'huez - megeve friday 25th august | 182km | 4,500m+
fter two nights at Alpe d’Huez it is time to move
surprise steep descent in the middle, just after the
on. In which case there’s no point in moving
small village of Rivier d’Allemond. Measured from
down the road, let’s go all the way to Megève!
the Verney dam, the climb is 1,152m over 24km.
Stage 5 is the Queen stage of this year’s Haute
The average is meaningless because the climb is
Route, and by a considerable margin. There are
highly irregular. Be prepared for long sections at
three massive climbs on a stage.
8%-10% and some shorter, steeper sections at up to 13%.
The day begins with the descent to the Verney dam, which will be neutralised. We then head due north,
The descent from the Glandon to La Chambre is long,
successively crossing the Col du Glandon (1,924m)
steep – especially the first 3km – and dangerous.
and the Col de la Madeleine (2,000m)
This is now the fifth day and you may be both tired
transition between the two - before looping round
and over-confident: take it easy!
via Albertville to tackle the Col des Saisies (1,650m) via Bisanne, not coincidentally the hardest route to
At the bottom we begin the climb to the Col de la
Madeleine (2,000m) immediately, from the hardest side. You are about to find out why it spoken of in
Let’s take them in order. The climb to the Col du
hushed tones... It is only 19km to the summit, but
Glandon (1,924m) is long and tough, with a
these 19km are relentless, averaging 8% all the way.
The road down from the Madeleine is another long,
better shaded than the alternatives, this climb could
fast and dangerous descent. (Remember, when
still be very hot in the early afternoon. Be prepared: it
you prepare the Haute Route, there is as much
is long and steep. 16.5km and over 1000m to climb,
descending as there is climbing. Learn the right
including 4km where the slope never drops below
technique to be safe, and practice practice!)
10%. The road actually goes 70m higher than the col; there’s a welcome 2.5km descent before the final
From the bottom of the Madeleine there are 20km of
900m up through the village of Les Saisies.
false flat descent to Albertville, and then another 12km or so of not-so-false flat climbing up the Durance valley
It’s not over yet: there are still 24km to go before the
to the start of the last biggie of the day, the climb to
finish, and it’s not all downhill! Keep something in
the Col des Saisies (1,650m) via Bisanne. Mercifully
reserve for the final drag up to Megève.
stage six megeve - morzine saturday 26th august | 145km | 3,400m+
he stage begins by returning back down the road
There are several ups and downs through Serraval,
to Flumet, but instead of turning right to climb the
Thônes and Saint-Jean-de-Sixt before we get to Le
col des Aravis, we will go straight on to the Balcons
Grand Bornand and the second climb of the day,
d’Arly and the descent to Ugine. This is a great road
the Col de la Colombière (1,618m), thankfully
for cycling, climbing quite steeply at first and then
from the easier side. There are 713m to climb over
following the contours high above the Arly valley
12.5km, in two parts, with a level section in the
before the sweeping descent. A few kilometres of flat,
middle. The gradients are never excessive, apart
probably on the cycle path, will bring us to Marlens
from the final kilometre, which is at 9%. The summit
and the Col de l’Epine (987m). This will seem easy
scenery is magnificent, with impressive rocky cliffs
after the previous days, it is only 7km at 7%...
where it is sometimes possible to see wild mountain
ibex. The descent from the Colombière is very fast
Alps. Thankfully shorter than the Madeleine, it
and very dangerous, especially near the top. It will
is equally unrelenting, but steeper. The average
gradient is almost 9%, and varies hardly at all. Beware the sting in the tail (or should I say cramps
At the bottom we’ll cross the busy valley floor and
in the thighs)… after crossing the Col de Joux Plane
climb the anecdotal Côte de Châtillon (741m), before
there’s a short descent round the lake, and just when
a short descent and a long false flat to Samoëns.
you think it is all over you are hit with the final climb to the Col de Ranfolly (1,655m).
Be ready for the final climb. It is not for nothing that the professionals consider the Col de Joux Plane
The descent to Morzine is fast and technical.
(1,700m) to be the toughest climb in the northern
stage seven morzine - geneva sunday 27th august | 140km | 2,600m+
he final day, but certainly not an easy one. Two
gradient is quite high at 8.4%. The first and last
significant climbs and a bunch of minor ones
kilometres are at almost 11%. Itâ€™s a quiet, attractive
to drain your legs of the last vestiges of energy left
road winding up through alpine pastures and then
after seven hard days cycling.
The work begins soon after leaving Morzine with
A short descent brings us to a junction part way up
the climb to the Col de lâ€™Encrenaz (1,433m). Only
to the Col de la Ramaz (1,619m), from the south.
6km to climb, but 502m, meaning the average
Expect several more long, steep pitches as the road
zigs and zags sharply up the side of the mountain,
not quite the final climb) of the Haute Route Alps
in dark forest. The slope here is between 10% and
2017: the Col des Moises (1,121m). Smaller
11%. If you can still appreciate such things, there’s
than many others, there are still 8.5km to climb at
a wonderful view from the summit.
6.5%. Down the other side and it’s another 25km of road to cover, up hill and down dale, round
Parts of the descent are steep and fast. From the
corners and through little villages until timing stops
bottom, there are still 65km to ride, through some
seriously hilly terrain… We’ll then ride on to the lovely lakeside village of The Col du Feu (1,117m) is short but steep: 3km
Yvoire to enjoy a well-earned beer and a bite to eat
at 9.5%. A short descent leads to the final col (if
before the ceremonial parade into Geneva.
marvin faure, alpine cols 130
eginning the Haute Route Dolomites in Innsbruck,
The search for a completely new course has led to
capital of the Tyrol region in Austria, is an
inclusion of many icons of the Giro (Erbe, Valparola,
inspired choice. Innsbruck is much closer to Venice
Pordoi, Fedaia as well as the monster Timmelsjoch…)
than Geneva (the start or finish point for the last three
Some of these climbs are extremely challenging
editions) and above all it allows the event to take
with long steep pitches. The two defining features
place entirely in one of the most beautiful cycling
of the Haute Route Dolomites 2017 from a rider’s
regions in the world, with no need for tiresome
perspective are the high proportion of steep climbs
bus transfers and long rides up the interminable
and long valleys.
Swiss valleys. You would be well-advised to practice long, steep With the exception of the last part of the last day,
climbs. Standing up on the pedals will be an essential
everything is new for the 2017 edition of the Haute
skill. Bring a compact (50-34) or semi-compact (52-
Route Dolomites. Apart from Venice, we will not be
36) chainset and an 11-32 cassette.
using a single one of the towns we have visited in the past three years. The newcomers (Vipiteno, Brixen /
Group riding skills will be particularly important.
Bressanone and Canazei) are typical small Tyrolean
There are more than 250km of flat or false flat riding
towns, beautiful, charming and very welcome
in the valleys where you could lose huge amounts of
additions. We can expect great hospitality and a
time if you ride alone. The Alpine Cols “pink high-
speed train” will be in action: join the team for a first-class seat, or sneak on board at the back!
The bonus is that we get to stay two nights each in Innsbruck, Brixen and in Canazei, thus reducing the
Overall the course looks outstanding, totalling 812km
fatigue of changing hotel every night.
and 20,000m of hard climbing over the 7 days.
stage one innsbruck - innsbruck saturday 2nd september | 113km | 2,900m+
here will be nothing easy about this first day.
of Seefeld, the cross-country ski capital of Austria,
Don’t be fooled by the relatively limited amount of
before crossing the Mösern Pass (1,252m) and a very
climbing: much of it is at gradients exceeding 10%…
fast descent back down to the valley. No rest though, there’s a short steep climb out of Telfs before another
It is likely to be a very fast beginning as we head west
out of town on a flat road. It won’t last though: you’d better be ready to switch quickly to the small ring in
The serious work of the day begins after 55km or
Zirl around km 15: the first climb of the week is a wall
so, when we turn left and begin the long climb up
2km long at 16%. Normally this section of the road is
to Kühtai Sattel (2,017m), the highest ski station in
forbidden to cyclists and if we do take it you will soon
Austria, some 1,350m higher up. We are not taking
see why. Welcome to the mountains.
the usual road, from Oetz, but a much smaller one from Haiming, taking us over a first pass at Obergut
The climb mercifully levels off to a more reasonable
before a short descent through Ochsengarten to the
slope for the next 10km as we skirt the pretty village
main road and the second part of the climb to Kühtai.
The climb to Obergut is seriously tough, a relentless
The day finishes with a very fast 40km descent back
struggle at 11.5% for almost 8km. Talk about a beast.
down to Innsbruck. Look out for cows on the road.
This is roughly the same profile as the Mortirolo…
The descent is punctuated halfway down by a nasty little kicker from Sellrain to Elmau, 2km at 12%.
A short descent and just 8km to go to Kühtai. The
Beware cramps during what will be the final effort
pain isn’t over, because there’s another 12-13% pitch,
on a tough day.
fortunately short. It may be the highest, but Kühtai can’t be described as Austria’s most beautiful ski village: the
Once you are in, focus on recovery and get an early
road is wide, the architecture is late 20th century and
night because tomorrow is a big day…
the mountains are barren.
stage two innsbruck - vipiteno sunday 3rd september | 176km | 4,200m+
tage 1 gave a taste of some of the roads used by
By the time we get to the ski village of Sölden at km
the Ötztaler Cycling Marathon, Austria’s answer
86 we will have already climbed 600m over 40km.
to the Marmotte or the Maratona dles Dolomiti. Stage
It gets steeper from here on, averaging around 5%
2 will introduce us to another part of the 238km,
all the way to Obergurgl apart from a couple of
5,500m course, albeit in the reverse direction. Not
short sections at 11%. Keep something in reserve
for us the easy route into Italy, via the Brenner. We
however for the final 5km, which averages 9% all
are heading for the Timmelsjoch (2,474m)!
the way… You will probably be feeling the altitude here. Expect your power to be down and don’t try to
This is the Queen stage and will be an epic ride,
hold the same number you would on a lower climb.
due to the 80km of cumulated climbing. It will be essential to conserve energy during the long
The Timmelsjoch is one of the highest passes in the
approach to the Timmelsjoch by riding in a group
Alps, a watershed between north and south and
at your level.
attracts all the bad weather. The locals say it is unusual to get across in good conditions. Be prepared…
We start by the same route as yesterday, thankfully without the climb to Seefeld, and ride almost 50km
On the Italian side the Timmelsjoch is called the
along the valley floor before hitting the first gentle
Passo del Rombo (which sounds ominous, and
slopes that will rise eventually to the Timmelsjoch,
indeed the climb is much harder from the south…).
the highest point of the week at 2,474m. It is not an
Started by Mussolini, the road was only completed
excessively difficult climb from the northern side but
in 1968 and quickly became popular for its
will seem long, very long.
stupendous views. Trucks, caravans and coaches
are banned, due to the narrow, steep descent on
The Passo Monte Giovo (2,099m) is a spectacularly
the Italian side. All the better for us.
beautiful high mountain pass. From San Leonardo the climb is almost 20km at a fairly steady 7.1%.
The descent to San Leonardo is very fast and
There are a couple of steeper stretches near the top,
dangerous. The road is often in poor condition. Be
but nothing sustained at more than 9.5%. This is a
sure to take it easy, eat and drink well and spin
relatively “normal” Alpine climb.
your legs during the descent, because there likely to be a huge temperature difference between the
Once over the top it is an easy (but fast) freewheel
summit and the bottom in San Leonardo, where it is
down. If the weather is good it will be a delight…
often hot, and there’s another big climb to complete
as will be the arrival in Vipiteno.
before the final descent into Vipiteno.
stage three vipiteno - brixen monday 4th september | 107km | 3,000m+
here’s no warm-up on Stage 3, another tough
top, where the road passes through an impressive
one. We go straight into the 14.5km climb
cutting in the rock face. It’s a hard climb, one more
to the Passo Pennes (2,215m). The total climb is
to endure than enjoy.
1,263m at an average of 8.7%, and with the first two kilometres at 11.5% and 12.5%, there’s no
Enjoy the next 35km descending through the
chance to continue to doze on your bike. The climb
picturesque Tyrolean scenery. Everywhere you look
is mostly in the forest before opening out near the
there are pretty villages, castles, churches and
the ever-present mountains. Unfortunately, there is
to the valley on the other side. We pass through lots
usually a headwind, so get in a group.
of the attractive little villages for which the Tyrol is famous: itâ€™s a real delight.
Your reverie (if such it is) will be broken when we arrive at the turn to the Renon plateau (1,383m), the
Following the main road along the valley floor to
first available short-cut up and over the mountains
Brixen would be much too easy, so we climb back
in the direction of Brixen. Thereâ€™s an initially steep
up the valley wall for another 5km or so to enjoy the
climb with wildly varying gradients up the side
views one more time before the final descent to a
of the valley for 8km to where it levels out and
well-earned rest at the arrival village.
descends again like a staircase for another 25km
stage four brixen - plancios tuesday 5th september | 17km | 1,100m+
rixen is a jewel of a Tyrolean village and
The average gradient is “only” 5.7%, but the climb
should delight those who don’t know it. It’s an
is rather irregular so it won’t be easy to maintain
inspired choice to spend a couple of days and to
a rhythm. You will find yourself constantly changing
ride the Time Trial. The climb to Plancios (1,670m)
gear and pushing hard to maintain your momentum.
is the major part of one of two alternative routes to
Although you could ride a good part of it in the big
the Passo delle Erbe (1,987m). It doesn’t have the
ring, it would be easy to dig too deep on this climb
mythical status of the Stelvio or Alpe d’Huez, but it
and regret it the next day. As ever on the Haute
will nevertheless provide a good test, representing
Route, unless you are challenging for a place on the
1,134m to climb over almost 20km. It’s a nice road,
podium you would be wise to see the time trial as a
not too tough in terms of the gradient.
stage five brixen - canazei wednesday 6th september | 120km | 3,900m+
here are no easy days on the Haute Route, but
scenery with its characteristic steep limestone cliffs. A
some are harder than others. After Stage 2, this
simply stunning sight.
is certainly the toughest. The first part of the 15km descent to San Martino is By now youâ€™ll be used to it: roll over the start line and
fast and dangerous, with the road in bad condition.
start climbing. The difference today is that the first
It is interrupted by the short sharp climb above
climb is only 5km long, and is followed by a false flat
Alfarei, which can be a real shock to the system. In
descent before the second short climb and another
San Martino we join the main road for 15km and
chance to level out and spin your legs.
climb a false flat up the valley before the turn-off to the Passo Valparola (2,198m). This is another place
We are taking the alternative route to the Passo delle
where you must get in a chain-gang.
Erbe (1,987m), via San Leonardo and Luson. The real climb starts 3 or 4 km after Luson. Expect 11.5km at
From the turn-off in La Villa we have 13.9 km to climb
7.9%. The first few kilometres are the steepest.
the 802m to the pass, which makes an average of 5.8%. The climb is highly irregular however with two
The road is straight and interminable: expect to
2km stretches in the first part at less than 3%. The
suffer. Your reward is the magnificent Dolomites
second half is the hardest but the slope never gets
above 10%, and reduces nicely for the last kilometre.
Almost 10km of false flat brings us to Arraba and
We go past the Passo Falzarego on the way down,
the start of the Passo Pordoi (2,239m), legend of
turning right and enjoying a beautiful descent through
the Giro. Perhaps surprisingly, itâ€™s not one to be
Cernadoi to the valley floor.
too scared of. The climb is pretty regular, between 6% and 8%, rising 637m over 9.4km. Youâ€™ll go
This area is full of reminders of the bloody battles
round some 30 hairpins: it is the classic climb of
fought between Austria and Italy in the Second World
Ward: everywhere you look there are ruined military installations and memorials. It is hard to imagine the
Once in the bag, a short descent (and another 26+
fighting as we cycle through peacefully today.
hairpin bends) brings us to our new home in Canazei.
stage six canazei - canazei thursday 7th september | 103km | 3,000m+
anazei is a great place to stay, so we’ll spend
A fast, mostly straight descent for the next 20km
an extra night there to enjoy the best of the
brings us to Cencenighe Agordino and the left turn
Dolomites. There’s an easy start today too, with a
up the valley to Caprile. The climb to the Colle Santa
nice false flat descent for the first 15km through the
Lucia (1,485m) adds a loop above Caprile, but is
charming little villages of Vigo di Fassa and Soraga.
well worth it for the views. Colle Santa Lucia is an
The climb to the Passo San Pellegrino (1,918m) starts
outstandingly attractive small village on the pass.
in Moena and is fairly straightforward, averaging
Well worth slowing down just enough to enjoy.
6.8% over 11.4km. Expect a few steeper stretches The climb is easy enough: just under 500m and
where you’ll have to stand up but nothing too bad.
10km, nothing worse than the last kilometre at 8.6%. If it’s a hot day, you’ll be dreaming of that cold fizzy
Yes! A good thing too, because you are going to
water on the eponymous summit.
need all your energy for the last climb of the day…
Back down to Caprile, we start immediately on the
When it does finally end, at the first switchback,
pièce de résistance, the Passo Fedaia (2,057m).
the road only gets steeper. The steepest pitch is at
Our start point is at 998m so we have 1,059m
18%. If you don’t have a 32-tooth cassette, you will
to climb, over 14.1km. This makes a reasonable-
wish you did…
looking average of 7.5%. Do not be taken in. The first 7.5km are very easy, almost a false flat. Most of
Thankfully, once over the top you only have to
the height gain is in the last 6.5km, which average
cruise around the lake and barely turn the pedals
10.3%, leading to yet more comparisons with the
again before reaching the finish line lower down
dreaded Mortirolo… Probably the worst part is
a never-ending 3km straight after the waterfalls.
stage seven canazei - venice friday 8th september | 181km | 2,600m+
inal day, and while certainly not the hardest, it
second half is the toughest, with some 5km at 9%.
is a long one at 181km. We begin by retracing
Once over this, you can start to feel good. Two small
our steps of the previous day, back up and over the
hills left and the long ride out to Venice.
Passo Fedaia (2,057m). Once again we begin with a climb, straight out of bed, as it were. Tomorrow in
Most of the ride is along the valley floor, on a
Venice is going to feel strange, no need to get up at
descending false flat, so very fast. We canâ€™t
6am, no mountains to climb.
emphasise enough how important it is to do this in a group and share the work.
If you paid attention to the final descent on the previous day youâ€™ll know what to expect. The climb
The false flat descent is punctuated by the short
is much easier from this side, but once again the
climbs to the Forcella Franche (992m) and the Passo
San Boldo (706m). The Forcella Franche consists of
bends cut into the solid rock, was built in just three
5.5km of actual climbing, at 7%, and the San Boldo
months in 1918 by the Austro-Hungarian army and
is a formality from the north. Timing will stop on the
conscripted local women and children.
summit of the San Boldo: the day is done, time to relax and enjoy your achievement.
Next stop Conegliano for lunch, then on to Venice and the party!
The descent from the San Boldo is a remarkable testament to human ingenuity and to what can
Special thanks to Bryan Taylor from Verve Cycling/
be done when the stakes are high enough. This
Infocrank for some of the insider knowledge.
incredible road, consisting of a stack of tight hairpin
marvin faure & olivier dulaurent, alpine cols 147
stage one ventoux friday 6th october | 107km | 2,770m+
The first stage of the Haute Route Ventoux
Once off the descent, you can look forward to
will start fast, very fast. Not only is the stage
another 17km of fast riding, mostly flat with a few
relatively short, at just 105km, but the first 60km are
short rises, before the first serious climb of the day,
almost flat and the route to the summit is via Sault, the
to the col de la Liguière (985m, km67). The peloton
easiest of the three alternatives.
will be well split into multiple groups by now, and your focus should be on staying with your group
The first 17km are mostly a gentle false-flat descent. If
while expending the least energy possible.
you don’t want to be dropped immediately by other riders at your level, you’ll have to ride this hard, at
The climb to the col de la Liguière starts at a sharp
an average intensity close to your threshold, and be
right turn after the village of Saint-Saturnin-les-Apt.
ready to burn a few matches to stay with the peloton.
The first 7.5km are very regular, winding up through a series of hairpins at around 7.1%, before the climb
The road is mostly straight, narrow and in open
levels off to 3% or so for the final 3 km. The scenery
countryside and vineyards. There are a couple of
is typical for the area, with dry, stony ground dotted
villages to pass in zig-zags, and the usual roundabouts
with small trees and scrub. Just looking at it will make
and other street furniture to negotiate.
you thirsty: keep drinking regularly.
At km 17 the first hill appears. The road rises gently
Over the top, the descent is almost straight and very
for 10km to the Col des Trois Termes (574m, km27),
fast all the way to Sault. From here you have 25.7km
at an average gradient of 4%. After 6km of climbing
to climb the 1152m to the finish on the summit of
there’s a steeper section for 1km, at an average of
8%, but with a couple of short ramps at 12-13%. The final 3km are at 3.3%. This hill, easy as it is, could
First, the statistics. The climb can be divided into three
very well create definitive splits in the peloton.
roughly equal parts. The first part begins with a short descent and then settles into a fairly steady rhythm at
Make a final effort over the summit and slot in
a gradient varying from 4% to 6%. The mid-section
behind a good descender for the next 10km
(finishing at Chalet Reynard) is substantially easier,
descent. The priority now is to recover while making
averaging 2.6% for 7km and never exceeding 3.5%,
a fast, smooth descent. Keep spinning your legs and
with the last part before Chalet Reynard almost flat.
drink whenever safe. Look far ahead and anticipate
The final third is easily the toughest part of the climb,
from Chalet Reynard to the summit. This is the famous,
iconic part of the climb, with its lunar landscape and
Be ready for the suddenly increased gradient after
the remote weather station always in sight, mocking
Chalet Reynard. It does ease off a bit after the bend,
you from a distance. It was on this section that Tom
but don’t hesitate to stand up and use a low gear.
There may be a strong headwind. If so, take as much shelter as you can but be prepared to grind it out.
You will climb this part of the route again on Stage 3, the time-trial direct from Bédoin. From Chalet
The weather on the summit could be anything.
Reynard there are almost 500m to climb in 6.1km, at
Whatever it is, don’t hang about. Put on a jacket and
an average gradient of 8%. The final 1.5km are the
descend as quickly as you can to begin the recovery
hardest, at 10-10.5%.
process. Tomorrow will be a long day in the saddle.
stage two ventoux saturday 7th october | 141km | 3,300m+
tage 2 will see us do a complete tour of Mont
The first climb begins immediately from the start, and
Ventoux, in the anti-clockwise direction. From
rises 130m over 6km (2.2%). The descent is a mirror
Bédoin we head SSE to take the road through
image of this climb, leading directly to the longest of
the Gorges de la Nesque to Sault, and then turn
these six low hills: 20km at 3.8%. This is a beautiful
north, west and finally south again over a series
climb, on a narrow road with no traffic, winding up
of rolling hills before beginning the ascent of
above the vallée de la Nesque. There are some short
Ventoux from Malaucène.
but impressive tunnels cut through the rock.
The profile looks like a vertical slice through a pre-
After a short descent, a 10km false flat at 1.5% brings
historic fish, with a gently curved, lumpy back and a
us through Sault (where we will have started the
huge triangular tail. The first 120km will serve as a
climb on Stage 1) and on to the next crest. The cols
long softening up session before the real challenge of
of Aulan, Peyruergue and Ey follow on at intervals of
the day, the climb to the summit via Malaucène. They
about one every 15km. Each time the total ascent is
look easy on paper, those first 120km, but you will still
about 200m, spread over 5-8km.
have to ride them… They include a total of six climbs, probably best described as rolling hills. None of them
Once over the col d’Ey, there is an initial 4km descent
are difficult or long but the accumulation of all six,
followed by 24km of false flat descent to Malaucène,
ridden at competitive pace, will take its toll, especially
where the real work begins. The climb quickly ramps
if it is a hot day. Only the last three are dignified with
up to 7% and then 9%, before becoming highly
the name of “col”: the col d’Aulan (845m, km 60), the
variable through km 5 to km 9. Beware, there are a
col de Peyruergue (820m, km 74) and the col d’Ey
couple of ramps at 11%! There is a long, hard mid-
(718m, km 89).
section averaging 10% from km 9 to Chalet Liotard
at km 14, including 3km in a never-ending straight
which is reserved for the time trial on Stage 3. But
line. Fortunately there’s another brief respite around
the climb from Malaucène remains one of the most
the bend at the Chalet before another tough kilometre
difficult in France and must be treated with respect.
at 11%. The final 4km are at an average slope of 8%.
Bearing this in mind, if you find yourself in the middle
By now the iconic summit station is in view and thus
or towards the back of the peloton, you would be well
the finish line is in sight.
advised to ride defensively during the first 120km.
The 21km and 1,535m of climbing from Malaucène
As on the first day, don’t stay on the top but coast
to the summit are not to be taken lightly. This is the
down quickly to Bédoin to start the recovery process
Ventoux, after all, if not yet by the most difficult route,
and prepare yourself for Stage 3.
stage three ventoux sunday 8th october | 21.5km | 1,580m+
his the moment you’ve been waiting for, and the
when Armstrong left the victory to Pantani, Virenque’s
reason why you came. It’s not every day you have
popular victory in 2002 and of course Chris Froome’s
the chance to ride an official time trial up the mythical
more controversial one in 2013. It was on this climb
climb from Bédoin to the summit of Mont Ventoux. This
where Froome, Porte and Mollema ran into the back of
is the route nearly always taken by the Tour (14 times
a motor-bike, resulting in Froome having to abandon
to date, since the first in 1952, won by Jean Robic).
his bike and run part of the way to the finish.
This is the route where the drama has taken place, the titanic struggles mano a mano from the first time trial
It was also on this climb where Tom Simpson collapsed
in 1958 (when Gaul unexpectedly beat Bahamontès,
and died, just 2km from the summit in 1967. World
in an incredible 1h2’ – see how close you can come
Champion in 1965, winner of Milan San-Remo in
to this), Poulidor’s victory in 1965, Merckx’s victory
1964 and the first Briton to wear the yellow jersey on
(and collapse) in 1970, Thévenet’s victory (in front
the Tour, he was not yet 30. You will see his memorial
of Merckx) in 1972, the famous incident in 2000
by the side of the road as you pass.
So what is it like, this famous climb from Bédoin? One
slope is not constant however, with a few sections as
word sums it up: tough.
low as 7% and many over 11% and 12%.
The dry statistics are 21.5km, 1612m and 7.5%.
The last 6km from Chalet Reynard are a little easier,
Sounds OK? Think again and let’s look at the detail.
but much more exposed. If it is windy you will feel it here, although with luck it might be a tail wind. There
The first 5.5km from Bédoin to St Estève (and the first
is a short steep section around the bend after Chalet
hairpin) is at only 4.4%. This leaves another 16km
Reynard but soon after the gradient drops to around
to climb, at a considerably steeper gradient. From St
7% for the next 4.5km. The last 2km or so are steep
Estève to Chalet Reynard (through the infamous forest
once again at 10%, but by now the end is well and
section) is 9.5km an average gradient of over 9%. The
truly in sight!
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Published on Apr 7, 2017
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