The scene at the Ullandhaugtårnet was an emotional mix of exhaustion, elation, and pride as riders kicked their way up the final steep grade to the final finish line of the 2019 Haute Route Norway. Featuring grades up to 20% in the final two kilometres, the climb to the finish of the 17.3-kilometre time trial left riders gasping for breath as they received their Haute Route Finisher medals.
The camaraderie that developed from working together in groups during the previous two stages led to a party atmosphere on the final ramp to the finish line, with riders gathering to cheer on the athletes coming up behind them. Before joining the cheering crowd, however, they had to recover from their own effort!
“I like the time trial, yeah. It’s different. If you normally do sportives, you don’t have time trials,” commented Andrew Ratcliffe at the finish. “And also the feel of it. Coming down the ramp, the people here. It’s just cool, I love it.”
The steep climb to the Ullandhaug Tower rewarded riders with a 360-degree panoramic view of Stavanger and the surrounding islands. Gazing out at the scenery while catching his breath, Robert Bedford commented, “Can’t help but love it, can you? It’s pretty awesome; you don’t get this in London.”
Asked about her favourite part of the entire Haute Route Norway course, Norwegian rider Caroline Vanmes chose the Lysebotn climb on Stage 2, “I’ve never, ever, done such a beautiful climb. I was here last year, to do the same climb, but in the rain you don’t focus on anything else but the rain. Yesterday, the weather was perfect. I feel sorry for the people who didn’t come; they really missed out.”
For athletes focused on competing for spots on the final podium, the time trial was the last chance to move up a step – or stay on top. In the Men’s Original competition, Australian Tim Harris started Haute Route Norway with the goal of taking home a Tag Heuer watch. He was close to the top step on Stage 1, just two seconds out of first place, but couldn’t overtake Filip Eidsheim on Stage 2 or Stage 3. In the end, Eidsheim won all three stages and the overall, and took home the Tag Heuer watch with a 4:07 lead over Harris. Bence Szuromi rounded out the Men’s Original competition in third.
In the Women’s Original competition, the weekend was a battle between Kristin Eidsheim Sønnesyn and Emma Julie Dyrhovden. Kristin won the first stage by more than six minutes, but Emma came back to win Stage 2 by a single second. In the Stage 3 time trial, Emma fought hard to take back even more time, and won the stage by 1:35. Thanks to a strong ride, Kristin limited her losses and retained her leader’s jersey, taking the general classification victory by 4:35. (Yes, the Eidsheim family is leaving Haute Route Norway with a matched pair of Tag Heuer watches!) Mona Kristiansen won her Women’s 50-59 Original course age group competition by more than an hour on the way to third overall in the Women’s Original course.
While most of the Compact course and age group categories were won by large margins, there was a particularly tight battle for the Men’s 40-49 Original course competition. Felix Hoddinott of Great Britain won Stage 1 by 29 seconds over Bence Szuromi. The Hungarian rider finished 11 seconds faster on Stage 2, cutting Hoddinott’s overall lead to just 18 seconds. On the final time trial, Bence managed to finish 22 seconds faster, overtaking Hoddinott to win the General Classification by just 4 seconds!
SOLO Men’s Original: Filip Eidsheim
SOLO Women’s Original: Kristin Eidsheim Sønnesyn
SOLO Male 18-29: Filip Eidsheim
SOLO Male 30-39: Timothy Harris
SOLO Male 40-49: Bence Szuromi
SOLO Male 50-59: Svein Flornes
SOLO Male 60+: Peter Moricz
SOLO Female 18-29: Emma Julie Dyrhovden
SOLO Female 30-39: Kristin Eidsheim Sønnesyn
SOLO Female 40-49: Juliet Elliott
SOLO Female 50-59: Mona Kristiansen
DUO Male: Snowgoats
DUO Mixed: Bike & Run Imst
SOLO Men’s Compact: Stan Beraznik
SOLO Women’s Compact: Elsbeth De Vries
SOLO Male 40-49: Eduardo Lowndes Pires
SOLO Male 50-59: Stan Beraznik
SOLO Male 60+: Ronaldo Heilberg
SOLO Female 30-39: Elsbeth De Vries
SOLO Female 40-49: Brigitte Posch
Next up on the calendar, Haute Route heads south to France for the 7-day Haute Route Pyrenees and Haute Route Alps! Both are sold out, but you can still join the wait list. With nearly 800 kilometres and 20,000 metres of climbing in each, these two events represent huge challenges and massive accomplishments for more a combined total of more than 1000 Haute Route riders. There are even a group of hearty souls competing in both back-to-back, which together may form the world’s longest amateur stage competition in road cycling. Following the two 7-day events, Haute Route returns to 3-day competitions for the fall, including the Stelvio, San Francisco, Ventoux, Mexico, and China events. And stay tuned for the release of the 2020 Haute Route Calendar later in August.