The majority of Haute Route Alps riders will have accomplished one of their cycling dreams today: riding up the mythical 21 bends of Alpe d’Huez. Rolling down the time trial ramp in Bourg d’Oisans at 20 second intervals, riders took on the 14km ascent of Alpe d’Huez alone and against the clock.
Once they had reached the finish line everyone took the time to savour the moment and appreciate what they had just accomplished. This was the case for American rider Monica Stratton: “It’s my first time in the Alps and on Alpe d’Huez, it’s amazing,” she said, “I chose this Alps event because of Alpe d’Huez and its famous 21 hairpins, having seen the photos it’s amazing to be here now”.
British rider Patrick Foyle was also pleased with his first time on the 21 hairpins of Alpe d’Huez: “I really enjoyed it, the scenery was beautiful,” he said, “I didn’t count the 21 hairpins on my way up but it’s great to have ridden them. I guess my name features on the list of those who have conquered Alpe d’Huez now!”
“It’s amazing to ride here where the most famous races take place,” added Finish rider Jouka Virta, “I was looking forward to this Time Trial, it’s an opportunity to really push your limits and test yourself. Throughout the week we ride in groups with others, but today it was just you against the mountain”.
Swiss rider Lucia Wakefield had ridden the 21 bends before and was delighted to have conquered them once again: “To think it took me nearly twice as long as those who ride it in under 50 minutes. But it doesn’t matter, I did it!” she exclaimed. “When I rode it three years ago I’d said it was my first and last time, and yet here I am today. The organisation really made me feel like a pro, riding down the ramp and the supporters along the road were great. The whole thing is magical”.
Local rider on the day, wearing the colours of Alpe d’Huez, Jean-Christophe Gaudin had an interesting ride today: “I set off with mind-set of riding it like I usually do at the end of a training ride,” he said. “But once I had that bib on and rolled down the ramp I couldn’t resist going flat out. I hope I don’t regret it tomorrow! For the moment I still feel ok though, the cryotherapy session yesterday probably played a part in that”.
“The 21 hairpins are mythical, even if I’m at home here, it’s always special to ride up that road,” he added.
Winners on the day were Nicolas Roux and Marjolaine Bazin; both take home a watch from official timekeepers Tag Heuer. Leaders on general classification are Nicolas Roux and Manon Testou.
With 184km and 4,600m of climbing on the menu for tomorrow, riders will have been appreciative of a relatively easier day today. The col du Glandon, col de la Madeleine and col des Saisies from Bisanne will all have to be conquere on the way into Megeve on stage 5 tomorrow.