After three days of incredible riding over the ‘3 Mitiche’, the inaugural Haute Route Stelvio came to an exciting end today on the slopes of the King, Passo dello Stelvio.
Flying down the starting ramp into the cobbled streets of Bormio town centre, the 280 amateur riders took on the 40 ‘tornanti’ and 21 kilometres of the mighty Stelvio one by one. Having ridden up the majority of this climb and descended it in its entirety on day 1, riders could recognise the hairpins, tunnels and waterfall that make this ascent memorable. Triumphantly crossing the finish line under blue skies at 2,757m above sea level, riders took the time to congratulate each other and relish in becoming finishers of the Haute Route Stelvio.
Smiling from ear to ear, Donatas Kulikauskas from Lithuania reflected on the time trial and his first Haute Route experience: “I’m so excited with a lot of emotions going over and over. The climb was great, I decided to go easy at the beginning as I felt a little tiredness after yesterday and the day before. But later on, I got a lot of power and with 2 kilometres left I still felt a lot of juice in my legs and I kept pushing and pushing and even sprinted over the finish line. It was so nice!”
He continued: “I trained for eight months for this event and the last three days were really epic, the route chosen were perfect and very picturesque. And the organisation was fabulous. Good guidance, safety briefings, feed stations, Mavic assistance, all the things that I needed for the ride were taken care of. Really awesome! I’ll have to come back to do another Haute Route!”
Proudly admiring her medal, Marina Paulozzi from Brazil was very emotional about her experience: “I can’t believe that I’ve done this. I am tired but I am very, very happy for my first Haute Route. My husband did the Haute Route Alps last year and he loved it. So he told me to do a 3-day event and we’re both riding together here as we love Italy.”
“In Brazil we don’t have these mountains so it’s difficult to train but it was good and I made it. Now I deserve one day of spa with hot spring waters and we are in the perfect city for that!”, she added smiling genuinely.
Haute Route veteran James Fawcett enjoyed his first experience of the 3-day Haute Route format: “With absolute tremendous sceneries and great camaraderie, I had very good fun and I loved it! I have done two other 7-day Haute Route events but this is my first 3-day format. This format deserves a lot more interest. It’s a fantastic event and I’ll definitely come back for more. I am going home with a lot of memories.”
With a remarkable time of 1h03min59sec – a new record of the ascent of the Stelvio in Haute Route history – Callum Clarke took another stage victory and a Tag Heuer watch home on the day. The first British rider to win an Haute Route event in the Men’s division, Callum was full of praise: “Amazing event! Really good, beautifully organised, amazing places. I thought I would do quite well but I didn’t expect to win. This is fantastic!”
“I’ve always wanted to ride the Stelvio and the Mortirolo now I’ve done it more times than I could imagine! Stelvio, Stelvio, Gavia, Mortirolo and Stelvio, I’m very happy to have done it”, he added. “There is a friendly atmosphere on the Haute Route, it doesn’t feel like some of the other Grandfondos. Everyone here helped each other out and had a chat when we got to the neutralised sections, even waiting for each other at the bottom of some climbs. A true community feel!”
In the women’s category, Arianna Marchesini was quickest on the climb and also took home a watch from Haute Route Timekeeper, Tag Heuer. She held on to her leader jersey and was crowned overall female winner of the inaugural Haute Route Stelvio. With another stage win, Duo teams Black Spokes and Fitness Maréchal won the Men and Mixed categories respectively.
It is no coincidence that the next stopover of the 2018 Haute Route Cycling Series in Europe will be in famous Alpe d’Huez, Bormio’s sister city, between July 13th-15th. Prior to Alpe d’Huez, the Haute Route will head back to North America with the 7-day long Mavic Haute Route Rockies from June 23rd to 29th. Five more events will complete the 2018 Haute Route calendar in Norway, Pyrenees, Alps, Dolomites and Ventoux.