The Haute Route Dolomites 2019 got underway this morning at 7:30am, with the international peloton of over 300 riders cycling across the start line at Cortina d’Ampezzo. Ahead of them lay two options: a 98km Original course with 3300m+ or a 66.6km Compact course with 2270m+. Whichever course they opted for, it promised to be an incredible day on the bike.
The riders had the chance to test out their legs early on with the first climb to Passo Falzarego. With a manageable gradient and stunning scenery, the climb gave riders the opportunity to settle into the day whilst also acting as a confidence boost.
“I have just completed the first climb and it wasn’t too bad which is a promising start. The weather is a lot better than expected and the day is going very well so far. I am aiming for a place in the top 100 so I am going to keep pushing the legs a bit over the next trio of climbs” said Jan Vandenbossche from the UK.
For Heather Mackenzie, from the USA, it was all about getting the first climb out of the way: “I was incredibly nervous about starting today and I thought I was going to be right at the back but I got to the top of the first climb and even overtook people I didn’t expect to. Now I feel amazing and can’t wait for the rest of the weekend.”
Settling into some easier miles after the first climb, the next trio of climbs loomed ahead, starting with Passo Pordoi climb. Many riders claimed this was their favourite climb of the day with a steady gradient and a rewarding descent. The extra speed from this downhill section then helped riders take on the first hairpins of the Passo Sella after a quick gear change. With the Sella Massif walls towering right above them and views of the Marmolada Glacier, riders pushed on to complete their third climb of the day. The Passo Gardena climb comes hot on the heels of the Passo Sella however, leaving riders with a short recovery but a rewarding and fun descent into the final miles.
Speaking to riders at the final feed station, the day proved a big hit. “My favourite part was actually the neturalised descents. It was fabulous as it gave you chance to descend safely, have a bit of a chat with other riders and enjoy the scenery before getting to work again at the upcoming timed section” said Gary Wyatt from the UK.
The work wasn’t over just yet however, with a short but difficult climb left to complete in order to complete Stage One. Ending at the top of the snow-capped Passo Valparola, it was a finish to remember, with riders returning to Cortina d’Ampezzo to talk about the highlights of the day and make use of the massage and additional services at the event village