The spirit of the Haute Route

Hundreds of riders every year from all over the world take part in the Haute Route events, and take on the most mythical cols of the French Alps, Pyrenees, Dolomites and Colorado Rockies. The attraction of these legendary cols, such as the Ventoux, Alpe d’Huez, Galibier, Tourmalet, Stelvio and Independence Pass cannot be underestimated, but beyond the sporting challenge is another story, a human story that for many is life changing…

What is the Haute Route exactly? The basic facts can be easily stated – the Haute Route cycling events are the world’s most prestigious cycling events for amateur riders, run over seven or three days, timed and ranked, across the most iconic cols.

The main Haute Route events each cover over 800 km, climb more than 20,000 vertical metres, and traverse the greatest cycling terrain in the world – the Dolomites, the French Alps, the Pyrenees and the Rockies. Inspired by the success of the main Haute Route Series, the new 3-day events – Alpe d’Huez, Ventoux and Maserati Norway – offers amateur cyclists the chance to enjoy all the key attributes of those events but over a shorter time and based from one location. Each 3-day events cover 250km and climb 8,500 vertical metres around a top cycling destination.

But these basic facts do not portray the sheer magnitude of the challenge, the overwhelming beauty of the landscapes nor the multi-faceted human story of the riders themselves that demonstrate sport really does have the power to change each of us. The Haute Route events push the boundaries of human endurance to the edge and in doing so create a very special atmosphere. The peloton is home to many different nationalities with many of the riders crossing oceans to arrive in Europe’s legendary mountains or Colorado’s high passes and the spectrum of ability and experience is vast.

To finish all seven days of a single Haute Route event is a major achievement for all the riders and to complete two, and receive the accolade of an ‘Iron Rider’, is outstanding. Since 2014 the challenge exists to take on all three European Haute Route Events (Pyrenees, Alps and Dolomites) in a row which Cycling Plus journalist John Whitney claimed: “It will without question make it the toughest mass participation series in the amateur road cycling world”.

With professional level event organisation including medical teams, mechanical support, rolling road security, film crews and, of course, massages, the riders are 100% immersed in the world of cycling and for a short time get to experience what it’s like riding as a pro.

Rookie or expert, the riders tackle the most world-renowned cycling terrain, and it’s a levelling experience making the Haute Route much more than just a cycling event. Everyone has their own personal reason for doing the Haute Route. It can be life changing for many, it allows those with physical and personal challenges to prove that anything can be done if you put your mind to it; and only those riders who do it, fully understand what it means.