What makes the Haute Route unique?
The Haute Route’s Management team’s objective is to deliver events that are the unparalleled ‘professional’ experience for amateur cyclists. Not simply because of the 20,000m of ascent in the most legendary cols of the French Alps, Italian Dolomites, Swiss Alps and Pyrenees – should an Haute Route be considered the amateur equivalent of one of pro cycling’s Grand Tours – but it’s the infrastructure and attention to detail behind the scenes that ensures the Haute Route events stand apart ‘from the crowd’.
Six years ago, OC Sport’s CEO, Rémi Duchemin and Course Director, Jean-François Alcan, created the Haute Route. Their singular goal, since the inaugural Haute Route Alps event in 2011, has been to offer amateur cyclists the most desirable ‘must-do’ event. To that end, the organisation team set out to bring a high level of cycling and event management knowledge and experience, year round, to the planning, organisation, and running of each of the events.
The ‘professionalism’ of the Haute Route begins with the Course Directors. Jean-François Alcan brings years of experience, from working on different cycling events for amateurs, to the design of the stages and routes of the Haute Route Alps and Haute Route Pyrenees. From a similar background, and with the knowledge of life as a former professional cyclist, Laurent Bezault brings an equal level of experience and knowledge to his role as Course Director for the Haute Route Dolomites Swiss Alps. The exceptional format of the Haute Route is only possible because of the special permissions granted, in negotiations with the Course Directors, by the cities, public authorities and police along the route covered by each event. These permissions allow for priority right-of-way for riders over all other road users, wherever possible; and are enforced by the 800 volunteer marshals recruited specifically for each Haute Route event.
Each of the seven stages are timed and ranked, with daily winners in the categories of solo man, solo woman, and team; along with a ‘Coup de Coeur du Jour’ award to the rider in the peloton judged to have best displayed the spirit of the Haute Route that day. The overall leaders of the event are easily identified by their special jerseys – yellow, red, or pink, depending on the event – and each member of the leading team proudly displays an insignia on the back of their jersey. A concerted effort by the management team ensures that each of the seven stages are incomparable, including the marathon stage and a mid-week individual time trial; so any rider with designs on topping the overall rankings at the finish must be capable of conquering them all.
In addition, every effort is made to ensure that as many kilometres of each stage as possible are timed. The only exceptions to this are occasions when the organisers deem that rider safety must take priority: in the case of a dangerous descent, hazardous road surface, or inclement weather, for example. To ensure that each stage begins as smoothly as possible, riders are managed at the start in groups of 75-100, to create fluidity within the initial peloton.
The level of support during the Haute Route is also unique. In partnership with a number of companies who are experts in their field, and through the recruitment of 800 volunteer marshals for each event, the organisers ensure that Haute Route riders enjoy an unprecedented level of safety, security and comfort. The Haute Route Alps, Haute Route Dolomites Swiss Alps and Haute Route Pyrenees are undeniably a series of ‘professional’ events, for amateur cyclists!
Each Stage includes:
- Marshals ensuring priority right-of-way for riders
- 35 safety, medical, and press motorcycles accompanying the peloton
- 2 Gendarmerie motorcycles on each of the stages in France
- The Course Director’s vehicle at the front of the peloton
- 1 official mid-peloton vehicle
- 1 official end-peloton vehicle, and a ‘broom wagon’ to collect riders if necessary
- 2 ambulances
- A medical support team of 2 doctors and 11 EMTs/nurses
- A team of 25-35 professional masseurs at each Village
- 4 to 5 fully staffed refreshment points per stage
- 4 mechanical support vehicles
TIMINGS & RANKINGS
How does it all work? Here we explain how the timings and rankings work for each Haute Route. There is no doubt that the riders are a competitive bunch on the bike, whether they want to beat the guys around them, improve their own time or ranking within the peloton or simply want to finish inside the cut off time on each stage, the most viewed page online is the Results page! And just like on a pro tour, there is a daily prize-giving, not only rewarding the leaders but also the Haute Route ‘Coup de Cœur’, recognizing an outstanding performance or act of camaraderie; and, like the pros, the leader of the day for men and women, will be proudly sporting the leader’s coloured jersey the next day.
Each Haute Route is a timed and ranked, multi-stage event. Timing mats are located at
- The official start & finish timing lines of each stage (there may be sections at the beginning and end of a stage that are non-timed and, as such, the timing mats may sometimes be located after the departure line and before the arrival line)
- The start & finish of any timed ascents of Cols
- The start & finish of any non-timed sections of the route
The non-timed sections may be
- at the request of the local or regional authorities or police, typically at the start and/or finish of a stage
- In the case of a descent that the Course Director considers too dangerous to be timed
- In the case of road surface conditions or construction work necessitating a timing stop
- In the case of severe weather providing a potential danger to riders
IDENTIFICATION OF LEADING RIDERS
During the daily official prize giving ceremony, a distinctive jersey will be given to each leader of the Solo (men’s and women’s) rankings. It will be mandatory for the recipients to wear these jerseys during the stage of the following day and until they relinquish their leading position to someone else. A distinctive coloured insignia will also be given to each member of the leading Team of the overall ranking. It will be mandatory for each recipient to wear this on their jersey during the stage of the following day and until they relinquish their leading position to another team.
HAUTE ROUTE EVENT SPECIFIC JERSEYS
There is an official jersey specific to each of the Haute Route events that is part of the kit for riders.
Rankings for each Stage are published daily, with overall rankings published at the end of Stage Seven, by male, female and team.
- Each participant will be ranked in the overall individual ranking (Solo) and also in the overall team ranking
- Rankings will be based on real time, i.e. the time between the start and the finish of the timed sections, excluding any untimed (neutralised) sections
- The precise time taken into account will be the one registered by a frame plate crossing the finish line
- The overall individual ranking (Solo) will be established on the basis of a rider’s cumulative time across all of the stages
- Riders completing all seven stages and crossing the finish line inside the cut-off-time will be eligible for the final overall individual ranking and become an Haute Route Finisher
- The daily team ranking will be based on the total times of the best three rider’s from each team on that day
- The overall team ranking will be based on the total of the best three rider’s times for each stage (a team must have at least three riders ranked in the final overall individual ranking)
The Lanterne Rouge is traditionally the last competitor to finish a cycling event and Team Haute Route’s Fergus will once again be the Lanterne Rouge for all three events this year. Fergus will be towards the rear of the peleton at all times, supporting and encouraging the last riders to the finish. Even though he will himself be the last to finish within the time limit, he may pass riders by from time to time during the Stage – this doesn’t mean they are going to be outside of the official finish time, as long as they beat him to the finish line.
PRIZES & AWARDS
An official prize-giving ceremony will take place at the end of each stage, in the heart of the Event Village.
The first 3 men in the Solo Men’s ranking
The first 3 women in the Solo Women’s ranking
Leader’s jersey and winner’s jersey for
The leader of the Overall Solo Men’s ranking
The leader of the Overall Solo Women’s ranking
Leader’s jersey insignia and winner’s jerseys for the leading team of the Overall Team ranking
Special award for the ‘Coup de Cœur’ of the Day*
Medal and t-shirt for every individual that finishes the Haute Route
*‘Coup de Cœur’ of the Day’
A ‘Coup de Coeur’ (from the heart) prize will be awarded daily to someone in the peloton for their outstanding efforts or behavior – a bold reaction to an unexpected situation such as helping another rider, a big climb in the rankings, overcoming a particularly tough day. The key element is that it ‘comes from the heart’ and expresses the spirit of camaraderie of the Haute Route.