From the Passo Pennes on stage 3 to the Passo San Boldo on stage 7, the 2017 Haute Route Dolomites riders will have seen the best of the best of this dazzling mountain range. Thanks to the new route from Innsbruck to Venice this year riders will have spent the majority of the week in this stunning mountain range and got to appreciate the raw beauty of the jagged peaks.
Canadian rider Hamish Gordon was already blown away by the Renon Plateau and Lazfons climb on stage 3: “It was incredible, that’s the best day I’ve ever had on a bike,” he said after stage 3 in Brixen. “I was getting emotional up there, it just kept getting better and better after each climb. It was simply breath-taking.”
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” he added blinking back tears of joy, “honestly the most phenomenal day I’ve ever had on the bike”.
Whilst the Time Trial on stage 4 climbed up one of the most renowned cols of the region, it wasn’t until stage 5 that the riders got to discover the beauty of the Passo delle Erbe: “These mountains are just amazing,” declared John O’Regan atop Erbe on stage 5, standing beneath an imposing and jagged rock face and surrounded by lush green fields, “but it looks like it might get even better from here,” he added with a smile on his face, looking forward to the challenge and landscapes that lay ahead.
24 hours later John’s outlook remained the same “The landscapes are beautiful,” he said on day 6, “It’s amazing, really impressive. I’ll certainly come back in the Pyrenees or Alps.”
One of the most memorable climbs of the week was undoubtedly the Passo Gardena; weaving up through the Val Gardena ski slopes under the emblematic red and yellow cable cars, jagged snow capped rock faces peppered the top of the mountain and provided a stunning backdrop to the climb.
If the riders thought they had seen it all after stage 5, they would have been delighted to have been proven wrong on stage 6. With the Passo Valles, Passo San Pellegrino, Passo Lavazè and Passo Costalunga all condensed into a single 128km stage, riders were able to drink in a whole holiday’s worth of views in a single day on their bike.
Melanie Lonsdale from the UK summed it up perfectly in one sentence despite the tough climbs on stage 6: “Beautiful, absolutely beautiful; it’s really difficult to forget that you are surrounded by so much beauty the whole time.”
Speaking to us on day 6 again, Canadian rider Hamish Gordon surmised the week quite well, remembering at the same time to thank his wife: “the Dolomites are phenomenal, mind-blowing,” he said, “I feel very lucky to be here. I should definitely thank my wife for letting me come”.
As a whole this week allowed riders to not only ride the same cols as professional riders, but also to discover one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world. A million miles away from the vistas riders are used to seeing in the Alps and the Pyrenees, the Dolomites provide a true escape from your classic French cycling cols and a whole new adventure to be cherished on the Haute Route.