What makes the Haute Route unique?

The Haute Route’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, Pyrenees and Colorado’s Rocky mountains – should a main Haute Route event 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.

In keeping with the main Haute Route events’ unique proposition, the DNA of the Haute Route three-day events remains identical with the unrivalled premium level services put in place for the riders.

The ‘professionalism’ of the Haute Route begins with the Course Directors. Jean-François Alcan, Davide Davide Marchegiano and Chandler Smith bring years of experience, from working on different cycling races for amateurs, to the design of the stages and routes of the Haute Route 3-day and 7-day events. 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 marshals recruited specifically for each Haute Route event.

Each of the seven or three 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, pink, blue or grey 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 or three stages are incomparable, including a marathon stage and an 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 marshals for each event, the organisers ensure that Haute Route riders enjoy an unprecedented level of safety, security and comfort. The Haute Route Pyrenees, Haute Route Alps, Haute Route Dolomites, Mavic Haute Route Rockies, Haute Route Alpe d’Huez, Haute Route Ventoux and Maserati Haute Route Norway 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
  • The Course Director’s vehicle at the front of the race
  • 1 official mid-course vehicle
  • 1 official end-course vehicle, and a ‘broom wagon’ to collect riders if necessary
  • 2 ambulances
  • A medical support team
  • A team of professional masseurs at each Event Village
  • 4 to 5 fully staffed refreshment points per stage
  • 4 Mavic mechanical support vehicles

TIMINGS & RANKINGS

How does it all work? 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! And just like on a pro tour, there is a daily prizegiving, not only rewarding the leaders but also the Haute Route ‘Coup de Cœur’, recognising 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.

TIMINGS

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 Race 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 prizegiving 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

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 if the rider registered as a team
  • 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 or transponder 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)

LANTERNE ROUGE

The Lanterne Rouge is traditionally the last competitor to finish a cycling race. The Lanterne Rouge will be towards the rear of the peloton, supporting and encouraging the last riders to the finish. Even though he will be the last rider over the finish line 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 prizegiving ceremony will take place at the end of each stage, in the heart of the Event Village.

  • Trophy for the first 3 men in the Solo Men’s ranking and 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 and 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’ (awarded to someone in the peloton for their outstanding efforts or behaviour)
  • Medal and polo shirt for every individual that finishes the Haute Route