Closing out the 2017 season on the slopes of Mont Ventoux
After having climbed up Ventoux from Sault on day one and from Malaucène yesterday after 120km of hilly riding, riders took on the most well known side of the mountain today from Bédoin.
On a fresh but sunny morning the riders set off every 20s to take on the 16.5km of ascent to the Chalet Reynard; unfortunately strong winds at the summit meant the stage had to be shortened for safety reasons.
Having been the stage of many the exploit in the professional peloton in the past and a mythical mountain on the bucket list of most amateur cyclists, the ascent from Bédoin can be summed up in one word: tough! Experienced ex-professional cyclist and Mavic ambassador Frank Schleck confirmed this to us this morning: "The Ventoux is one of those myths of the Tour de France. I can say that as a Pro I definitely suffered on the slopes of Mont Ventoux".
"It's a challenge for everyone, so now as an amateur rider again I'm able to enjoy the ascent with people who share the same passion for cycling as I do," he added, "I can share some of my experiences with them out on the road and enjoy it all together. I think this 3-day format over a weekend is a great compromise and it's easy to come and take part. We can all ride together during the day and catch up in the evening over a beer".
Crossing the finish line by Chalet Reynard, Valentin Wolf from Switzerland was delighted to be a finisher: "I started easy today and built my effort through to the finish," he said, "with the euphoria on the first day I think we started a bit too fast so yesterday and today we tried to manage our effort slightly better. It's great to ride with everyone in the peloton and benefit from the support of the organisation."
George Scott was singing the praises of this region of Provence when we talked to him at the finish line: "The landscapes are stunning, the colour of the trees with the mixture of gold and brown is spectacular," he said, "yesterday's stage was long and tough for everyone, so when I found out we were finishing by Chalet Reynard today I just emptied the tank to the finish line".
Veteran of the Haute Route, having taken part in the Norway test event and also ridden the Pyrenees in August, Danish rider Morten Tonøe Pagh is now a big fan of the 3-day concept: "I really enjoyed these three days, this area of France is beautiful at this time of year," he explained.
"Each Haute Route is so different, so you just have to try each one at least once," he went on to say, "and you see familiar faces every time you come back as well so the atmosphere is special. I can't wait to see what is in store for 2018, I'm looking forward to choosing which event I'll do next year!"
On the day it was Frenchman Pierre Ruffaut who recorded the best time on the ascent, however it was his compatriot Julien Lodolo who held on to the leaders jersey and wins the inaugural Haute Route Ventoux. In the women's category it was Sophie Poza who took another stage win and the overall win for the three days. In the team competition it was Team Mavic who took home the honours.
With six events now completed in 2017, event director Benjamin Chandelier was delighted with the breakthrough year for the Haute Route: "In 2017 we challenged ourselves for the first time to take the Haute Route outside of Europe and to develop the new 3-day format," he stated, "having witnessed the incredible exploits of our riders on both the three and seven day events in Europe and the United States I think we can say it is challenge complete!"
"I'd like to thank all of our partners and host venues for their support and confidence in us throughout the year, the thousands of volunteers who ensured the safety of our riders out on the road and the members of the organisation for their commitment to excellence all year long. See you all in 2018 for another landmark year for the Haute Route!" he added.
As the 2017 Haute Route series comes to a close, registrations for the Mavic Haute Route Rockies and Haute Route Alpe d'Huez are already open for next year. Head to www.hauteroute.org for more information.