Ahead of what promises to be a landmark year for the Haute Route, organisers have announced revamped courses for the flagship European 7-day events. The Haute Route Alps returns to its original North to South route, now starting from the mountain town of Megève and finishing on the Mediterranean seafront in the city of Nice. The Haute Route Pyrenees will both start and finish in France’s city of cycling, Pau, whilst also visiting numerous host towns and showcasing the best cols the Pyrenees has to offer.
Notable highlights in the Alps will be the queen stage on day 2 that features the Col de la Madeleine and a summit finish on the Col du Télégraphe, as well as the shorter stage the following day that totals 3750m of climbing over 107km and a summit finish in Les 2 Alpes. Riders in the Pyrenees will be treated to a double dose of the notorious Col du Tourmalet, new cols like the Col de Portet and a return to the exquisite Cap de Long.
Announcing the routes for two memorable weeks of Haute Route riding, race director Jean-François Alcan expressed his excitement about the new routes through the Alps and Pyrenees: “I think both courses do their best to showcase the brilliance of these two fantastic mountain ranges,” he said, “we feel they will appeal equally to Haute Route veterans and to new riders alike. The Alps event retains its classic appeal with a host of world renowned climbs, and the Pyrenees event offers an intimate experience in one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world.”
“We’re excited about some of the novelties that the riders will experience in both the Alps and Pyrenees,” he added, “there are some new climbs such as the Côte de Domancy and Col de Romme in the Alps, and the imposing Col de Portet in the Pyrenees. Having both ascents of the Tourmalet in the space of 24 hours also promises to be something quite special.”
Beginning on Saturday 18th of August in Pau, which also hosts the finish of stage 18 in this year’s Tour de France, the 6th edition of the Haute Route Pyrenees will feature a total of 770km and 20,000m of climbing over 19 cols and seven stages. With a slightly reduced total distance compared to previous years there will be a number of shorter and sharper stages, including five summit-finishes. Amongst these summit finishes is the reappearance of the stunning Cap de Long, which returns as the featured climb on time trial day. The impressive climb to Hautacam also returns after a two-year hiatus. A number of recognisable climbs will also feature, such as Col de Marie Blanque, Col d’Aubisque, and the Col du Soulor.
Many of the loyal host towns also return in 2018, riders will spend a total of three nights in Pau, two in Argelès-Gazost, two in Saint-Lary Soulan and one in Peyragudes. With simple logistics across the board riders will be able to take full advantage of all the services put in place to make them feel like pros throughout the week.
Following the conclusion of the Haute Route Pyrenees on the 24th of August in Pau the Haute Route Alps will get underway from Megève on Sunday the 26th of August. Heading to Nice over the course of seven stages, the 8th edition of the Alps event features a total of 787km and 20,650m of climbing over 21 cols.
The first stage will revolve around the new Grand Départ host venue of Megève. The stage features two Alpine classics in the form of the Col d’Aravis and Colombière, and two new ascents up the Col de Romme and Côte de Domancy (known as the Côte de Bernard Hinault) before the summit finish in Megève.
With a total of six summit finishes throughout the week, two of the highlights will undoubtedly be the finishes atop the Col du Télégraphe and in the town of Saint-Véran which is the highest commune in Europe. The return to two giants of the French Alps in the form of the Col du Galibier and Col de la Bonette is sure to please cyclists wishing to tick these infamous climbs off their bucket list or conquer them for the nth time. Thanks to its itinerant nature, the Haute Route Alps will also visit a number of renowned Alpine host towns such as Valloire, Les 2 Alpes, Risoul and Auron before reaching the Mediterranean coast in Nice.
In keeping with the Haute Route’s unique proposition, riders will benefit from the Haute Route’s usual professional level of rider support on every one of the seven timed and ranked stages each week. This includes, mechanical and safety support on the road, massages and a rider’s meal after racing and full logistical support meaning that the focus is always on the riding.
In 2018 the Haute Route Cycling Series expands to a total of 11 events, spread throughout the season from April to October. For more information, and to join the hundreds of riders that have already signed up for the 2018 events, visit: www.hauteroute.org