The Haute Route Dolomites 2018 got off to a sublime start today with a stunning stage in the heart of this unique and beautiful mountain range. Riders rolled out of Predazzo this morning for a 124km long stage with 4400M of climbing over the Passo di Lavazè, Passo Nigra and Passo Pinei before a summit finish on Passo Sella.
Come from Sweden, Peter Moricz was excited and slightly nervous to get underway with his first ever Haute Route stage this morning: “I’ve cycled in the Dolomites before,” he said, “but this is my first Haute Route so it’s hard to know what to expect. I never done anything like it.”
The stage began in perfect conditions with the sun rising in the distance over the jagged peaks as the road turned upwards towards the summit of the first climb of the day, the Passo di Lavazè. Peaking at 1808m, the Passo di Lavazè provided a taste of what was to come throughout the event.
The descent off Lavazè proved to be quite chilly this morning, with most riders covering up to stay warm in the shadows during the descent. Once they reached the valley the road quickly turned back uphill towards the Passo Nigra, a slightly longer climb but with a shallower gradient towards the summit. The views at the top of this climb proved to be one of the highlights of the day, with numerous riders taking the time to stop for a picture to immortalize the views of the jagged peaks and snow-capped mountains.
After taking the time to recover, refill and refuel at the summit, the riders regrouped into small groups and headed towards the valley once again to the foot of the long drag up Passo Pinei before the final assault on the Passo Sella.
The climb to Pinei sapped the energy as the road rose out of the valley floor, the wiser riders kept some energy in the tank for the final climb of the day up to the stunning and celebrated Passo Sella.
Once he reached the finish line on Passo Sella, Guillaume Bourgeois reflected on his first stage and concluded that the Passo Sella was undoubtedly his personal highlight: “The Passo Sella is the highest climb of the day,” he said, “and it was my favourite of the day without a doubt, it was just magnificent.”
Riding the event as a Duo, Paul Edwards also reflected on a brilliant stage after reaching the summit of the Passo Sella, “the stage was just brilliant, everyone rides really well and the scenery was gorgeous,” he said, “the Duo format is good as you get to ride with someone, we talked to each other all day and worked really well together.”
Stage winner on the day, Fortunato Ferrara was impressed with the organization and impressed with the beauty of the first stage: “The conditions were perfect,” he said, “and luckily there was a neutralised section today so I got to look up and really enjoy the surroundings before the final climb up Sella, it was beautiful.”
Riding in a Mixed Duo team, Christine Hemphill was delighted with the stage, and impressed with her own form after having a busy week leading into the event, “It was the perfect day,” she said, “a really good race, I’ve never seen the Dolomites like this before.”
At the front of the race today it was Italian rider Fortunato Ferrara and French rider Laetita Roux who took the stage wins, both putting on the first leader’s jersey of the weekend. In the Duo race, it was Wyndymilla processcc pickupcoaching who were first over the line.
After riding back to Predazzo and relaxing in the town this afternoon, riders attended the safety briefing and were able to enjoy a Vélosophe beer during the apéro before heading for dinner and preparing for stage two. Setting off once again from Predazzo, tomorrow’s stage is 124km in length with 3900M of climbing over the Passo Valles, Forcella Aurine, Passo Cereda and Passo Rolle.