After two successful Haute Route events on American soil in San Francisco and Asheville, the Haute Route Cycling Series resumed today in Europe with the inaugural Haute Route Stelvio, the first stopover in Italy in 2018.
Based out of the charming spa town of Bormio at the base of Italy’s most famous climb (Passo Stelvio), the 280 participants will immerse themselves in the unique Italian culture for three days and take on three timed and ranked stages, involving one time trial and two classic mountain stages.
With a total of 226 kilometres and 8,641 metres of climbing, the international peloton of amateur riders will end each stage in glory with two arrivals at the top of Passo dello Stelvio on days 1 and 3 and a summit finish atop Passo Gavia the second day.
With three days of incredible cycling on the menu for the inaugural edition, the atmosphere in the race village, where riders collected their bibs and registration package and had their bike checked by Mavic, was a blend of excitement and anticipation.
Riding his first Haute Route this weekend, Swiss rider David Perez is looking forward to fulfil his dream of climbing the mythical Stelvio: “I’m excited and nervous at the same time to ride my first Haute Route. I’m thinking a lot about the Stelvio which is one of the most mythical cols in all of cycling. Looking at the profile of the event, I don’t think this is the most difficult feature of the event but this is certainly impressive. And actually I am more afraid of the Mortirolo with its very steep sections.”
He added: “I’ve been training more and ridden more kilometres this year to prepare for this event. My goal is not the result but to challenge myself, finish each stage within the cut off time and to live incredible moments in such mythical cols as the Mortirolo, Stelvio, Gavia and Umbrail. I have even watched stage 16 of last year’s Giro to become familiar with these ascents!”
Local rider and 2002 Olympics short track silver-medallist, Michele Antonioli was eager to discover this brand new course on his homeland: “This is my first Haute Route. I hope to have a good time, be proud of my achievements and maybe to be a bit tired after the race”.
“With an event like the Haute Route you can spend some incredible moments on the bike and socialise with fellow riders. I hope the weather will be good to enjoy the amazing landscapes the region has to offer! I know these mountains very well as I train here. The Stelvio is the most iconic mountain but all participants will be surprised how tough the Mortirolo is and how beautiful the Gavia is.”
After tonight’s riders briefing and traditional Pasta Party that will unite the entire Haute Route Stelvio peloton, riders will get ready for the first stage tomorrow. They will set off at 7:30am from the centre of Bormio towards the Passo Umbrail and the Swiss-Italian border at 2,501 metres above sea-level. After riding in the valley, the highlight of the first day will likely be the 25-kilometre ascent up to the Passo dello Stelvio from Prato allo Stelvio, which features more than 1,800 metres of climbing and unrivalled views over the surrounding glaciers.