After a week of racing, the 450 riders of the 2018 Haute Route Alps celebrated their achievement this afternoon in Nice after crossing the finish line on the Promenade des Anglais. Some of them jumped into the Mediterranean Sea, others burst into tears as they hugged their relatives.
Since the Grand Depart in Megève seven days ago, participants have ridden 763 kilometres, climbed 20,900 metres of elevation gain, and faced the most famous cols in the French Alps: Colombière, Madeleine, Galibier, Lautaret, Izoard and Bonette.
Looking back over his journey, Michael Koehle told us: “This week was good, very well organised and I am not so tired. There are so many good moments of the week. Some descents were wonderful and the Col de la Bonette is nice, cols d’Izoard and Galibier were also gorgeous. All the climbs were good. I also met other riders and we became good friends.”
Setting off from Auron this morning, riders took on the cols of Saint-Martin and Èze on the seventh and last stage. On the last ascent, they enjoyed amazing views over the Mediterranean Sea and the Baie de Anges, their ultimate goal.
“What a view from Èze, we cannot describe how wonderful it is in this area”, said Gregory Haymann from Switzerland trying to explain his feelings. “It is so good to be here, and it was the main goal after all these climbs. As I already knew them, I was aware of what to expect but how good is it, really good. What are we going to do now it’s over?”
After receiving his medal, symbol of his accomplishment, Ian Thompson from the UK was very emotional about finishing the eighth edition of the Haute Route Alps: “It’s been fantastic. The best week of road cycling in the mountains you can imagine. The best moment was probably the time trial as I’ve never done a time trial before, everyone was incredibly supportive. It’s really a wonderful supportive atmosphere. I am thinking of having a cold beer now!”
Having participated in the Haute Route Pyrenees and Haute Route Alps back-to-back, American rider Lorenzo Brown could barely believe his achievement: “I feel so accomplished. I did two Haute Route events prior to this. I did the Pyrenees and I did the Alps and every time I went home my legs were like ‘let’s go, let’s go’. It was amazing so I felt like I knew that I could do the double.”
“I love, love, love the Haute Route because it gives you the opportunity to ride without having to stop if you don’t want to”, he added. “And there is a sort of friendship and competitive environment. I don’t think there is anything else like this. When you’re on the climb you know that you’re on the same climbs that the pros have done: ‘Oh my god, Nairo was just here! Four weeks ago, his name was on the road’. The Haute Route is the most fun, the most difficult, the most everything, all the emotions in one!”
After a fierce battle at the front of the race at the beginning of the week, Carlo Fino from Italy will be crowned winner of the 2018 Haute Route Alps tonight at the closing ceremony at the Palais de la Méditerranée in Nice.
“It’s amazing, I didn’t know I would win”, said Carlo after meeting his family. “I came here thinking I don’t know the competitors so the first day I was surprised when I saw I could keep up with the first four riders. And every day I kept feeling a bit better and better.”
He added: “The week was fantastic, the organisation is very very good, the massages, the relationship you have with the other people. I have already bought an Infinity Pass for next year and I think I will do the double, Pyrenees and Alps.”
Having gained some precious minutes in the first three stages, Maria Camila Giannella managed to pace herself at the end of the week to maintain her lead and win the eighth edition of the event in the women’s category. Unbeated since the beginning of the week, teams Brao Caffè – Unterthurner and McPherson won the Duo Men and Duo Mixed divisions respectively.
The next stopover for the Haute Route will be in the Dolomites between September 21st-23rd. The 2018 season will end on the slopes of Mont Ventoux, from October 5th to October 7th. With the 2019 calendar unveiled a week ago, riders from all over the word can now sign up to the 2019 Haute Route events thanks to the Infinity Pass: an annual pass that grants access to every Haute Route event in 2019 at the exclusive price of €1450.