The Col des Saisies awaited the Haute Route Alps peloton this morning as they left Megève to start Stage 2 and headed toward Courchevel and another summit finish, this time atop the Col de la Loze.
With one early climb, followed by a long descent and valley road, a smaller climb up the Côte de Montagny, and then a 22-kilometre final ascent, Stage 2 was a day for riders to think strategically.
One of the youngest riders in the peloton at just 21 years old, Martin De Pas said after the valley road, “Col des Saisies was great to warm-up and we climbed at a good pace. The descent was also nice. Then you had to find a good group to ride with. I joined a group of about 20 riders and we worked together, so it was perfect. We rode fast and spun the legs before the next ascent, even if we have to pace ourselves as the last one is a beast. I think every rider is a bit afraid of the last 7km.”
Charlie Gorman, one of the 80+ riders competing in both Haute Route Pyrenees and Alps this year, also had a strategy. “I tried to play up front with the big boys. I went over the top of the Saisies in the second group, and then couldn’t descend quite fast enough to stick with them. A beast of a guy pulled through the valley and caught a big group before the Montagny, but I was pretty cooked. So, for me it was a fast start and a slow end.”
Following the descent from the Col des Saisies, groups of up to 40 riders formed in order to share the work of riding through the long valley to the foot of the Cote de Montagny. This short but steep climb featured a narrow road carved into the side of the mountain, and then a short descent to reach the foot of the 22-kilometre long Col de la Loze.
The final climb of the day started out on a wide road leading up to the resorts at Courchevel, and then continued on ever narrower roads until reaching a brand new, bike-only road leading to the summit finish. Riders were treated to spectacular panoramic views as they approached the finish line, but also had to contend with a series of precipitously steep ramps.
Before the last climb, Daniel Grosvenor revealed his strategy: “Hang on and hope to have something left by the end. That last bit will either make you or break you. Day 1 was good; I felt strong and had a bit left. I might use it all up today, though.”
After the stage in the Rider Village, Paul Begley talked about his more philosophical plan: “I approached the day the way I approach everything, which is that you do everything you can to have as much fun as you can, and don’t worry too much about the result. For me, Haute Route is about you against yourself.”
As riders relaxed, visited Mavic to tune up their bikes, and took advantage of rider services like the daily massage and post-stage lunch, the conversations gradually turned to Stage 3. The Queen Stage of the 2019 Haute Route Alps, Stage 3 is a giant that features three of famous Tour de France climbs: the Col de la Madeleine, Col du Glandon, and the Alpe d’Huez.
Matt, one of the riders at Haute Route Alps with Two Wheel Tours, said, “Tomorrow is my Bucket List Day, where I get to ride up three of the climbs that I’ve always wanted to ride up since I was a kid. So, all in one day I get to do my bucket list.”
At 144 kilometres and with 4600 metres of total elevation gain, Stage 3 will be a challenge for everyone from Ruari Grant in the overall leader’s jersey all the way to Lantern Rouge. Grant goes into Stage 3 with a 2:06 lead over Guillaume Bourgeois in the Men’s Solo competition. In the Women’s Solo competition, Linda Farczadi retained her leader’s jersey after Stage 2, and goes into Stage 3 with a 2:49 lead over Rebecca Johnson.