The third stage of the 2019 Haute Route Ventoux took place this morning with an uphill time trial up Mont Ventoux. With 1,580m of climbing over 21.5km and an average gradient of 7.4% standing between riders and the finish line, they knew they were going to have to dig deep as they set off from the starting ramp in Bédoin.
Despite the climb from the Bédoin-side being the most well-known ascent of Mont Ventoux, for many it was the first time taking it on, especially in time trial format and especially after two big stages in the legs already. For Justin Germany from Washington, it was also his first time in France, making this event even more unforgettable: “This is my second Haute Route but my first time in France and the first time climbing this famous mountain. I am going to go steady as you don’t want to blow up, especially when there are multiple sections with double digits. So, it is about surviving until you get to the ‘moonscape’ and then you know you are on the homestretch.”
He added: “It is going to be really rewarding to get to the top, especially as a lot of hard work went into this. The whole event has been absolutely phenomenal and there is so much camaraderie. Everyone is testing themselves and pushing themselves to the limit which is fantastic to see and be a part of.”
With the first six kilometres of the ascent being the easiest, riders had to be careful not to go out too hard early on for fear of blowing-up. As soon as riders reached the hairpin bend at St-Estève, the steepness reached a new level and riders quickly knew about it, with an increased burn in the legs and lungs to follow suit.
At Chalet Reynard, the weather was a totally different affair than the first stage and a welcome change, after riders had previously been greeted with thick fog and cloud cover. The clear blue sky gave riders incredible views of the landscape below for the final stage, although the wind still wasn’t on their side as they battled for the final kilometres up the final section of the climb to reach the summit and earn their well-deserved finisher medal.
Pierre Ruffaut was the fastest across the line today in a time of 01.11.59, which also saw him crowned overall winner. He was followed by Kevin Boscardin in second and Thomas Terrettaz in third to complete a closely fought podium. In the women’s race it was Janine Meyer who took the win in 01:33:32 to secure a strong overall win in the general classification. Sandra Martin and Suzy Robinson also produced consistently solid performances throughout the three stages to round off the podium in second and third respectively.
Standing at the summit triumphantly, Rebecka Harding from Sweden was delighted to have earned her first Haute Route finisher medal, after previously enjoying the event as a spectator: “Everything has been perfect from the Haute Route organisation to the views and the challenge. This is as close to being a professional as I ever could be.”
For Ben Cattaneo from Canada, the whole event has been unforgettable: “The landscape is amazing around here and it is such an experience to be able to ride through it all, I particularly loved the Gorges de la Nesque. Climbing the Mont Ventoux in the fog on Stage One felt pretty special too, you feel like you are climbing into the clouds and up into the sky.”
After three amazing days in Provence, riders took the time to refuel and enjoy an ABLOC beer at the closing ceremony, as the Haute Route speaker, Fergus Grant, got the prize-ceremony underway. The closing ceremony was the perfect opportunity for the riders to congratulate each other and make future plans, especially as this event concludes the European season for Haute Route in 2019.
The Haute Route will now look forward to heading to Mexico and China later in the year, before preparing to head into another exciting and action-packed year in 2020.
For full results and content from the 3-day event, click here