Calling myself directeur sportif may be an exaggeration as Lillian and Mark in the main ignored my race strategy advice and I wasn’t able to drive alongside in a car and shout at them to try harder in the time trial. Mechanic and cook is probably more appropriate. However, it was a nice if unusual experience peering into the Haute Route bubble. I’ve posted below some pictures of the event and a couple things I got up to when I wasn’t playing at being DS.
The 3-day Haute Route events are becoming increasingly numerous. Some of them seem to not be as challenging as the events of yore with stages that are easier than those on the 7-day events. However this year’s Haute Route Dolomites was a true test of mettle. Stage 1 was 123km with 4000m of ascent, Stage 2 125km with 3800m and Stage 3 a time trial climbing 800m. Also unlike the other Haute Route events we have participated in, the timing ran for the whole stage so it meant that good descenders could make up time. (In practice some road works and a slippery descent meant that there was a neutralized section in each of the first two stages.)
The start town was Predazzo which was in a part of the Dolomites where I had not been before.
Lillian and Mark were working for their places in the event by helping with registration for Eco Team Ne Jetez Plus.
One of the things they had to do was to remind people to not drop litter. Ne Jetez Plus!
Both had strong rides in Stage 1 and finished on Passo Sella a long time before I made it there (see below).
I had set off that morning aiming to complete an extended off-road circuit of the Sella Group. First I had to ride 25km up the valley to Canezei.
Then I had to climb the 27 hairpin bends to Passo Pordoi.
And finally I had to grind up this gravel trail to 2500m. The final section, still to come when I took this photo, was 21% for nearly a kilometre long; it nearly made me cry.
The reward was a mostly smooth single-track path traversing above the Lago di Fedaia with a great view of the Marmolada.
After a long descent north to the valley I climbed a gravel road col that is an alternative way to Passo Campolongo to get to Corvara. When Lillian asked where I was – she had already finished the Stage 1 – I was still climbing this. I felt she would freak out if she knew how far I still had to go so I told her I was in Corvara and she she still freaked out! Therefore I decided to ride on the road the rest of the way from Corvara, which was still 60km crossing two cols.
I eventually reached the climb to Passo Sella and whilst I probably didn’t suffer as much as the Haute Routers it wasn’t an easy 5km. I eventually made it home as it was getting dark but just in time to cook dinner!
For Stage 2 as Lillian was 5th lady she made it into the front start pen. Unfortunately I missed taking a picture of her with Yanto Barker as he rocked up only a couple of minutes before the start.
Lillian giving the man with the grey buff ‘the look’.
Stage 2 circumnavigated the Pale di San Martino mountain group so my plan was to climb a via ferrata and be down in time to watch Lillian on the final climb of the day, the Passo Rolle.
It was a cloudy day so unfortunately I did not see much of the view though the climb (the Via Ferrata Bolver Luigli) was excellent covering some impressive terrain. About 600m was steep and by the top my biceps were aching.
The cloud lifted as I reached the top of the cliffs which just as well as the way down would have been hard to fine in poor visibility.
The bivouac hut (Biv. Flamme Gialli) near the end of the via ferrata.
It was a nice place to eat lunch. I’m hoping that fact that there was leftover pasta last night was not a reflection on my cooking! I was down in the valley by 2pm ready to shout encouragement at my team members but Lillian and Mark had both had fast rides and had already finished the stage.
Stage 3 was the uphill time-trial. I rode it first on my mountain-bike so I knew how hard it was… the final 4km climbed 500m which meant that it averaged 12.5%! I stopped to take photos about 400m from the finish. Here is Lillian riding to 4th in the TT (just 40 seconds off 3rd place).
Mark also had a strong ride, finishing 28th in the time trial.
Lillian and Caroline, who had also ridden the Haute Route Alps with us last year, at the finish.
Lillian was 73rd in GC (out of 116 starters) and 4th woman overall (out of 10) and Mark was 39th in GC. Eco Team Ne Jetez Plus, well done!
A proud directeur sportif in Tesero, the town at the bottom of the time trial.