Riders Conquer Tough Haute Route Rockies Queen Stage
The ‘Queen Stage’ of the 2018 Mavic Haute Route Rockies took riders over 5 mountain passes, including three with summits over 11,000 feet (3353 meters). With 11,178 feet (3407 meters) of climbing over nearly 114 miles (nearly 183 km), it was bound to be a challenge for everyone.
The day started with a police escort down historic Main Street in Breckenridge, Colorado, before cruising down to the start of Swan Mountain. A mere bump in relation to the climbs to come, Swan Mountain played a role in USA Pro Challenge stages when that race started and finished in Breckenridge.
After Swan Mountain, the big climbs started. First, riders tackled the switchbacks of Loveland Pass before descending through the valley on a scenic bike path on the way to Georgetown. Leaving Georgetown, the road again tilted upward for the climb of Guanella Pass. Although frequently featured in classic Colorado bike races, the backside of Guanella Pass was a dirt road until a few years ago. Even for locals, this was the first time many riders had ridden the paved descent.
Although two of the biggest climbs were done, the hardest parts of the day were still to come. The wide open range between Grant and Fairplay, Colorado greeted riders with a stiff headwind – and the 1388-foot climb of Kenosha Pass. Once in Fairplay, only the 11,542-foot summit of Hoosier Pass stood between riders and the finish line in Breckenridge. Having conquered the longest stage, Mavic Haute Route Rockies riders have just one stage remaining from Woodland Park to the summit of Pikes Peak and then down to Colorado Springs.
With one stage remaining, Canadian Lyne Bessette and American Russell Finsterwald continue to lead the General Classification. Second place male rider Ryan Petry managed to claw back some time on Finsterwald and now trails by only 2:02. In the women’s race, Nina Donohue and Jaime Brede are separated by 1:42 in the battle for the second and third spots on the podium.
Stage 6 Results: https://my.raceresult.com/1005
Will Levy - Sydney, Australia
About Will: Will rode the very first Haute Route event in the Alps in 2011. This is his 17th Haute Route!!
“Today, we started high and finished higher. The queen stage is always going to be tough. I’m lucky enough to have done a lot of Haute Route events. Last year’s Rockies was super tough and this one tops it. The weather is fantastic, which makes a huge difference, but riding new roads makes it spectacular. I’m looking forward to Pike’s Peak tomorrow. It’s going to be one of those days we’re going to ride somewhere I’ve never been before - it’s going to be absolutely epic. To have this number of people coming from all over the world and ride side by side is phenomenal.”
Nina Donohue - Boulder, CO
About Nina: Nina is a Cat 2 rider and member of the ALP Cycles Racing Team. She is currently second in the women’s GC following Stage 6 of the Mavic Haute Route Rockies. This is her first Haute Route.
“I actually live in Colorado, but I haven’t had the opportunity to ride a lot of these roads and it has been a blast. This has been an experience of a lifetime with extraordinary riding and meeting really cool people from everywhere. It’s inspiring and I love to have so many other women out here with me, we’re rooting each other on and I’ve met a lot of great women.”
Richard Mull - Sun Valley, Idaho
About Richard: Richard rode the Mavic Haute Route Rockies last year. This is his second Haute Route. Following stage 6, he is first in the male 65+ category and 15th overall.
About the ride: “The road today was beautiful all along. There is nothing else that has this kind of support and no other bike events I’ve experienced last this long and have this amount of climbing and distance. There’s no other amateur event in the U.S. that compares.”