On a crisp autumnal morning in Bédoin, over 300 riders took to the start line ahead of Stage One of Haute Route Ventoux. After the usual motivational countdown from the Haute Route speaker, Fergus Grant, riders headed out towards the first climb of the day, Col des Trois Termes via picturesque and quiet country roads.
“Today I just want to enjoy myself and make sure I pace myself, that is the objective. I did the London to Paris ride in 24 hours about three weeks ago and I have done many long-distance rides but never a multi-day cycling event, so I am excited and a little bit nervous about the stages ahead,” said Sonali Siriwardena who is from Sri Lanka and currently living in the UK.
Knowing there was a tough summit finish to come at the end of the day, riders were careful not to push too hard on the three smaller climbs of Col des Trois Termes, Col de La Ligne and Col de La Liguière, using it as a test to see how their form felt whilst making sure to fuel well at the feed stations throughout the course and work together in groups on the flatter sections to tick off the miles.
Carlos Perea from Mexico was amazed by the beauty of the area as they made their way towards the finish: “The most amazing part for me was all the lavender fields that we passed through. The smell was incredible, and it was also great to ride past all the farms, past the vineyards and through the forests. It is so beautiful and something you would never discover if you didn’t take part in an event like this. Amazing!”
Whilst riders also enjoyed a clear view of Mont Ventoux from Col de La Ligne, the perfect weather conditions started to change on the approach to the famous climb, with a blanket of cloud obscuring the weather tower at the summit, serving to add to the anticipation. At the front of the pack, Kevin Boscard, Pierre Ruffaut and Thomas Terrettaz were focused on sticking to each other like glue, until Kevin Boscard broke away to take the stage win in the final kilometres to finish in a time of 03:51:02, closely followed by Ruffaut (03:51:20) and Terrettaz (03:54:12).
For Compact Course riders, it was time to breathe a sigh of relief after crossing the finish line at Chalet Reynard to conclude their 92km course, before congratulating teammates and making sure to cheer on Original Course riders as they continued to make their way up the final climb towards the summit, quickly disappearing into the cloud cover.
“The majority of the stage was in perfect weather conditions and then for the last few kilometres from the Chalet Reynard it got tough, with some strong headwind hitting us just as we were getting tired from the long climb” said Jörg Bärmig from Germany.
Simon Boqvist from Sweden was also thrilled to make it to the top to complete Stage One, commenting: “What a fantastic first stage. It was all going ok up until about 8 kilometres from the summit. It got colder, steeper and a bit tougher but it was fun. The climb is amazing and I haven’t climbed anything quite like that before.”
“Now it is time to eat as much as I can, sleep as much as I can and take a massage. The services are fantastic so I will definitely be making the most of those ahead of tomorrow,” he added.
After taking full advantage of the Haute Route services, riders will prepare for Stage 2 of Haute Route Ventoux and another incredible day on the bike, which includes a 133km long route with 3,300m of climbing and arguably the toughest side of Mont Ventoux.