Marked by Colorado’s iconic gravel roads, high mountain passes and incredible achievements of the riders, the inaugural Mavic Haute Route Rockies came to a close this afternoon in Colorado Springs.
Having ridden 800 kilometers and climbed over 15,000 meters over seven timed stages, the 360 amateur riders expressed their joy at becoming finishers as they crossed the finish line in the shadow of the emblematic rock formations in the Garden of the Gods.
Veerle Domen from Belgium was emotional as she crossed the finish line in Colorado Springs: “I was quite nervous at the start of the week, but it was a great week and I think I’m going to go to hang the medal above my bed.”
Holding his children in either arm by the finish line, Team Type 1 founder Phil Southerland reflected on the week of riding: “It was an amazing ride, it got better every day and I had a lot of fun. I can’t wait for next year, this was the most beautiful 7 days of my life!”
The majority of riders came face to face with gravel riding for the first time this week, and experienced their first high altitude mountain passes, including four cols above 3000m.
For many riders the highlight of the week would have been Independence Pass on stage 5, rising to an altitude of 3,687m it was the highest pass of the week and it took place in perfect conditions under a radiant Colorado sun.
This was the case for Israeli rider Avishay Gaziel: “The altitude and the gravel brought a new dimension to my cycling, it was my first time and I loved it! Independence Pass was the highlight of week for sure, it was brutal but fantastic. That’s why we are here!”
“I’ve done a lot of races,” he added, “but this is probably the most special one, I’ll never forget the landscapes and the camaraderie in the peloton.”
Veteran and new Haute Route riders alike enjoyed the charm of this new event, as well as the professional level services offered for the first time on American soil. The adventure will remain engraved in the memories of participants for years to come, as relayed by American rider Brigitte Sims riding her first Haute Route alongside her husband.
“This week as wonderful, terrific; the routes were beautiful, the landscape was breathtaking and the competition was nice,” she said, before adding “This was my first Haute Route and I loved it, I’m not that young anymore but maybe I’ll do another one next year, the organization was amazing.”
After a tightly fought contest at the front of the peloton, American rider Matthew Busche took the overall win with a slender lead of just 24 seconds over Matthew Davies. British rider Emma Pooley, who became the first female rider ever to win a stage of the Haute Route, won the female category ahead of Janel Holcomb.
Event director Chandler Smith was blown away by the riders all week: “I was really impressed with the riders all week, and want to congratulate them all on their amazing achievements.”
“On behalf of the entire organization team I would like to thank Boulder, Winter Park, Avon, Snowmass Village, Crested Butte and Colorado Springs for welcoming us and allowing us to organize this first edition. A huge thank you obviously also goes to our friends at Mavic and all the partners for their ongoing support. Finally, thanks to the Colorado State Patrol, Colorado Springs Police Department and local authorities in each town, without whom we could not ensure the safety of our riders.”
“We have just written the first chapter in the book of the Mavic Haute Route Rockies, and it looks like it has been one of the most memorable Haute Route events since the inception of the series in 2011. I want to wish all the best to the riders still training for the European Haute Route events to come this summer, and hope they get to live an experience as rich in emotions and memories as our riders in Colorado this week.”
Following the Mavic Haute Route Rockies, the 2017 Haute Route season continues with the first ever three-day event in the series with Haute Route Alpe d’Huez which starts on July 12th.
Then come the three classic seven-day European Haute Route events starting with Haute Route Pyrenees from Anglet to Toulouse on August 13th, Haute Route Alps from Nice to Geneva on August 21st, and then Haute Route Dolomites from Innsbruck to Venice, starting on September 2nd.
The final event is another new-comer to the menu in the shape of Haute Route Ventoux which consists of three days of stage riding based in the town of Bédoin and culminating each day in an ascent of the “Giant of Provence,” starting on October 6th.