The second stage of the Haute Route Dolomites started from the heart of Predazzo once again this morning. On the menu was 3,900m of elevation gain over 123km and three iconic climbs Passo Valles, Forcella Aurine, Passo Cereda before the final ascent of Passo Rolle.
With the memories of yesterday’s stage at the forefront of his mind, Keith Lawrence was getting ready for the day at the start line: “Yesterday was great, I went a little bit too fast in the first climb but it will be ok today,” he said, “This stage looks similar, I think the last climb is a little bit harder than the Passo Sella though!”
Standing nearby was Luis Alberto Cristobal Nogues, known as “Flinston” in the peloton, analysing the stage profile: “I like long ascents, so I am excited to ride the last one today, the Passo Rolle,” he said, “the mentality here is crucial, you have to find your rhythm and keep it in mind. Thanks to an event like the Haute Route you can challenge yourself every day. Otherwise, everybody would just stay in the hotel.”
Having travelled from Columbia with his two children, he was really pleased to share the experience with them: “It is important for me to be well supported by my family, with them, I enjoy the event even more,” he added.
Rolling out of Predazzo, the stage got off to a tough start with the climb up to Passo Valles, winding in and out of the clouds as the sun rose over the mountain range. Splitting the climb into two sections with a recovery and slight descent in the middle, riders each chose their own pace to make their way to the summit.
Standing at the first feed station, Christophe Crombez from Brussels was taking a break after climbing the 23km up Passo Valles: “I have done this climb before but from the other side,” he explained, ”it is quite flat at the beginning but then it is really steep. I was in a little group of ten riders to start and then everyone managed their effort by themselves,”
Also taking the time to refuel at the summit, Christine Hemphill added that the climb was just stunning: “that first climb was beautiful, an amazing start to the stage. It is my first time in the Dolomites, so everything is new” she said.
A long descent back into the valley ensued, before taking on the double header of Forcella Aurine and Passo Cereda in quick succession.
After summiting the Forcella Aurine climb and negotiating a short descent, riders began the demanding and steep climb to Passo Cereda. For the Frenchman Jean-Thomas Penet, currently living in Copenhagen, it was the best part of the stage: “ I really enjoyed this ascent, and I felt good. I stood up on the pedals during the 100m at 15% and after it was easier to negotiate.”
Another short descent ensued prior to the final climb of the day to Passo Rolle, and after over 100km and 3900M of climbing, the view at the top was the final gift to riders of the day, rewarding them for their efforts over the demanding stage. Most riders took the time to immortalize the moment, drink in the views and appreciate their achievement at the summit before descending back to the finish line on Piazza del Santi Filippo in Predazzo.
Having reached the finish, Franck Petiteau was glad to have finished the stage and already looking ahead to the time trial tomorrow, “I’ve already done some time trials on previous Haute Route events, and an uphill time trial is always demanding even if it is short so I don’t know what to expect.”
At the front of the race today it was Fortunato Ferrara who took the stage win for the second day running for the men, and Helen Warner who took the win for the women. Fortunato extends his lead at the front of the race, whilst Christine Hemphill takes the leaders jersey for the women. In the Duo category it was Wyndymilla processcc pickupcoaching who took the stage win once again.
Tomorrow is the third and final stage of the 2018 Haute Route Dolomites, riders will take on an uphill time trial on the emblematic Alpe di Pampeago where they will cross the line to become finishers and receive their well-deserved medal.