Race Recap: 10th Edition of Haute Route Alps an Anniversary to Remember
Over 450 amateur cyclists joined the memorable Haute Route Alpes 10th anniversary edition which concluded in Nice last weekend. Here's a full race recap of one of the toughest weeks of cycling in the world
Starting from Megève on Sunday August 22nd, they covered 800km in 7 stages to Nice and climbed 20 of the most famous climbs in the Alps and covered 21,000 meters of positive elevation gain.
The anniversary year saw cyclists make their way round a route winding from Megeve to Nice via the Colombiere, the Iseran, the Galibier, the Lautaret, finishing with the uphill climb towards Tignes, Vars, and the Alpe d’Huez.
Stage 1 on Sunday 22 August from Megève to Megève was 112 km with 3,100 metres of elevation gain, a classic loop that featured stunning views of Mont Blanc from several angles and finished with a finale up the top of Côte 2000.
The stage included the climbs of the Col des Aravis, the Col de la Colombière, the Col de Romme before plunging down the steep side to Cluses all the way through Megève to the finish line at Côte 2000.
Stage 2 on Monday August 23rd took the peloton from Megève to Tignes over 109km and 3,450 metres of elevation gain. The route included classic climbs, the stunning Col de Saisies, straight onto the Cormet de Roselend before a long technical descent to Bourg Saint Maurice and a final 25 kilometre climb to the top of Tignes Les Brévières ski station.
Stage 3 - The Queen Stage
By far the hardest stage, one that put a lump in the throats of the whole peloton at the start line, was the Queen stage from Tignes to the Col de Sarenne, a whopping 182km with an incredible 4,700 metres of elevation gain, the hardest day ever in Haute Route history.
The stage started with the Col de l’Iseran, an iconic 17km climb from Val d’Isere, the highest paved mountain pass in Europe at 2,770m. Followed by a fast and technical descent off the mountain to the valley below for a 60km time trial to the bottom of Col du Télégraphe leading onto the Col du Galibier, a combined climb of over 36km.
If that wasn't enough, the peloton descended down to the final climb towards the legend that is Alpe d’Huez via the lesser known climb of the Col de Sarenne for a very special day that no one will ever forget ever.
A classic time trial from Bourg-d’Oisans to the top of the "Dutch Mountain" Alpe d’Huez, 15.5km and 1,150 metres of elevation gain. Dutch cyclists say "you're a good climber if you can reach the top in under an hour."
The mythical road has unearthed new champions, created legends, broken countless hearts and as many bodies since it first featured in the 1952 Tour de France. It’s since become a mecca for biking and a must-do climb for cyclists all around the world, an unforgettable stage.
After the time trial, the peloton had the pleasure of the descent of Alpe d’Huez to start with. Stage 5 featured two climbs reaching over 2,000 metres including the long ascent back up the Col du Lautaret before tackling the Col de Granon.
A shorter stage of 86km, it packed in 3,000 metres of elevation gain before a fast descent down to Briançon, as the race headed south along the Route des Grande Alps towards Nice.
Yet another classic Alpine stage from Serre Chevalier Briançon to Auron over 140km, with 3,650 metres of elevation gain. The peloton got to warm up on the picturesque Col de Vars before hitting the mighty Cime de la Bonette.
At 2,802 metres above sea level the Cime de la Bonette was the highest point in the race, but didn’t technically count as the highest pass because the highest point is a small scenic loop at the top, not the pass itself. The panoramic view was absolutely worth the extra metres of climbing culiminating in the thrilling and technical descent to Saint-Étienne-de-Tinée knowing all that was left was the final 5km climb to the finish line in Auron.
The Final Stage
Saving some of the best until last, stage 7 from Auron to Nice was the perfect way to finish this special edition of the Haute Route Alps over 148km and 3,200m of climbing.
The peloton enjoyed the 16-kilometre climb of the Col de la Couillole before a beautiful descent of some 30km to Puget-Théniers, where they started the nine-kilometre climb to Col St Raphaël and 55 undulating kilometres to the summit of the Col de Vence on the narrow country roads of the Maritime Alps, before the final descent to the Mediterranean Sea and relish every moment of the iconic ride along the beach to finish on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice.
Antonio Garnero from Brazil won the men’s overall category and Luise Valentin from Denmark won the women's overall category. Both were crowned champions in Nice on the Promenade des Anglais!
Luise VALENTIN (DEN) : 25h:26m:22s
Lisa BOWYER (GBR) : 26h:18m:14s
Linda FARCZADI (SUI) : 21h:47m:13s
Antonio GARNERO (BRA) : 20h:50m:21s
Loïc RUFFAUT (FRA) : 20h:56m:55s
Daniel LINCOLN (USA) : 21h:47m:13s
Luise Valentin from Denmark said after her victory, "I feel surprisingly good given that we have cycled for 7 days straight. I was here to enjoy it and had no idea that I could so well here. It has come as a total surprise. It was my first time on the Haute Route, and I have totally loved it. I'm super impressed by how well everything went, how smooth the organization was. It really made it easy for us to ride so hard because you got the massage, your bag was taken care of, there was food and all you needed. The staff were really helpful, and everything was just resolved. I was amazed at just how well it was all managed and how great it was.”
Antonio Garnero from Brazil also said of his win, "I feel tired but really happy with my race and the victory. We had a wonderful and difficult week in terms of climbs and weather, but it is still an incredible experience. It is indescribable, you have to live it to understand it. I had already taken part in the Haute Route but I had come to enjoy it with friends, whereas here I came for the competition. I was better prepared and that's probably what explains my result."
Julie Royer, Haute Route Event Director said afterwards, "This was a very special week for us as we were looking forward to celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Haute Route Alps. After a year of pandemic and the postponement of the race last year, we felt everyone very happy with a special atmosphere in the peloton. Seeing the families who came in large numbers to welcome their heroes at the finish on the Promenade des Anglais is really heartwarming".
Link to the full 2021 Haute Route Alps Results: https://bit.ly/3yvNb4A
About the HAUTE ROUTE
With events lasting 3, 5 and 7 days held in iconic cycling destinations around the world, the Haute Route is the world’s leading prestige stage race circuit for amateur cyclists. The Haute Route aims to provide unrivalled support and service at a professional level. This is made possible through a high standard of hospitality in addition to an excellent attention to detail, which together guarantees an experience akin to a professional racing circuit.
Since 2011, the Haute Route has gradually expanded to a total of 7 races, the first of which - the Haute Route Alps - will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
Find out more at https://www.hauteroute.org