The Haute Route – 7 stages, 720km and 17,000m of climbing – A Heavyweight Sportive?


Yesterday I learnt about the Haute Route (http://www.hauteroute.org/en) a new and extremely challenging Sportive set to take place between August 21st and 27th, 2011.

Over the seven days, entrants ride 7 stages climbing 14 cols and including a mountain time trial as we saw the pro’s do in 2010. The toughest stage is the third of 163km climbing the Cols du Madeleine, Telegraphe and Galibier – it makes me legs burn thinking about it!


The following day is the mountain time trial which is 12km at an average of 10 percent – that’s pretty nasty. 


This event is designed for serious amateur cyclists – it’s going to Jersey’s to win like the Pro tours and it’s going to have Mavic Neutral service cars and motorbikes. 

Unlike the recently announced Gran Corsa d’Italia which follows the full 2011 Giro Route – all 3,496km – where you can choose which stages you ride (if you are one of the 200 to get places) on the Haute Route – you’re signing up for the lot. 

So if you thought that the London-Paris (http://www.londres-paris.com/site/html/home/index.php)  was a bit soft and easy – this could be the event for you. The plan is to have up to 1,000 hardy souls doing this ride – but are expecting about 600 in the first year. 


If you want to do this – I recommend you get a coach now – even if you’re fit. If you do sign up – then Chapeau to you and Bonne Chance!

More information here.


More press coverage here: 


Q&A with Jean-Francois Alcan, Haute Route’s Event Director:

Q: What gave you the inspiration for the event?
A: I was looking for an idea for a unique cyclosportive, an unusual concept. After a talk with Philippe Lesage from velo101.com, we thought of a multi-day cyclosportive crossing the Alps that would finish at the Mediterranean sea, after climbing the greatest and legendary Alpine Cols. I believed in it since the beginning, it is a dream for every cyclist, a challenge of a lifetime.

Q: What’s the hardest part of the organisation process for a mass participation cycling event?
A: Our very first challenge is to manage the movement of the peloton from one venue to another one every day. The cyclosportive racers are not used to that, so we need to do a great job on the logistical side and give the participants as much detail as we can (race village map, accommodation, timings, etc). Then we need to provide a safe route for all and organize the medical assistance along the way. Negotiations with local authorities are key as well, as it’s not easy to negotiate road closures and obtain the permissions from city councils.

Q: Logistically, what’s involved in the day-to-day movements of the Haute Route village?
A: We are managing the personal belongings from the participants, which means their bags and their bicycle bags. We will provide each participant with an official bag of 120 liters that will have to be used during the race to store their personal items. Accommodation is also a priority for us, as some of the racers will rely on us to manage it for them. Additionally, we will have great support from each venue to help with the start/finish line, ‘Pasta Party’ location and the race village.

Q: What sets the Haute Route apart from anything else on the market?
A: The Haute Route is the highest and one of the most difficult amateur bike races in Europe. Its specifications are exceptional with 720km, 17,000m of climbing and 7 stages in 7 days. La Haute Route will cross 14 legendary Alpine Cols including Madeleine, Galibier, Izoard and Cime de la Bonnette, and will link together two international cities, Geneva and Nice.

Q: Tell us a bit about your experience of cyclosportives and how that has helped you in the organisation and implementation of the Haute Route?
A: After creating and managing during 17 years one of the greatest cyclosportive, I think that my knowledge of the sport, relationships with the public authorities, as well the management of safety and logistical issues peculiar to this type of event, is a major asset when creating an event such as the Haute Route.

Q: How do you think cycling is changing in Europe with the rise of mass participation events?
A: Cycling is taking a bigger and bigger part in our daily live and the trend is the same everywhere in Europe. Cycling is becoming a lifestyle, closely linked to health and well-being. Cycling is a friendly sport that you share with family and friends, and it generates a growing enthusiasm in France and the UK. Riders taking part in cyclosportives are passionate but they are not always competitors. They love challenges and to surpass themselves by entering in events with hundreds or thousands of people. Cyclosportives are rising everywhere as they allow those people to take on those brilliant challenges, live a unique experience in stunning places.

Q: The Haute Route is a difficult event, what type of cyclist is it aimed at?
A: Due to its 7 day format of racing through the tough Alps, la Haute Route will be a very demanding cyclosportive. It’s a true challenge for racers and cyclists who are well trained and want to share and live a great human adventure. I think that a lot of different nationalities will enter the race as the Alps and their legendary cols make people dream across the world.

Q: Talk us through the route and what you see as the most difficult sections of the event.
A: The race is 7 stages with a different format every day. Each day will have its own set of difficulties, with an average of 2 or 3 cols per day. It will be key to manage the sequence of the different stages and keep enough physical and mental freshness until the finish.

The Haute Route 2011 program is as follows:
– 4 classic stages between 80 to 120 km, with the ascent of 2 or 3 cols
– 1 marathon stage of 160 km with the ascent of the legendary Galibier
– 1 time trial stage, first in the history of cyclosportives, the day after the marathon stage, with the ascent of the Col du Granon
– 1 prestige stage on the last day with a parade on the ‘Promenade des Anglais’ in Nice


Thanks for reading