The Inaugural Mavic Haute Route Rockies Offers a Classic Course in the Heart of American Road Cycling
by Holly Blades
The course for the inaugural Mavic Haute Route Rockies - which is announced today by event owner and organiser OC Sport - has all the ingredients of a classic week of racing in one of the world's most iconic mountain ranges.
The first ever week of Haute Route racing in North America features a total of 815 kilometres (507 miles) of riding in the spectacular setting of the Rocky Mountains and 15,000 metres of climbing (49,260ft). The event kicks off on June 24, 2017 from Boulder, Colorado and finishes on June 30 at Colorado Springs
The week of seven timed and ranked stages includes 16 ascents, 14 of which are above 2,500 metres of altitude. Among the classic ascents are Independence Pass, Kebler Pass and Berthoud Pass, all of which are above 3,000 metres. The climbs are generally not as steep as typically found in the European Haute Route events and 20% of the distance will consist of hard packed dirt roads.
Chandler Smith, the Mavic Haute Route Rockies Race Director, said: "The Rockies are simply stunning and we have chosen some classic climbs that we feel sure will test and enthrall our competitors. The climbs may not all be the consistent 8-10% gradients seen in Europe but they will reward the sort of steady determined riding that has always typified Haute Route competitors."
"Highlights during the week will undoubtedly include the highest climb - Independence Pass - while Magnolia Drive, which is the steepest with some ramps at 16%, will also surprise the riders", he added. "On top of this, any section of dirt road will be memorable, especially the jaw-dropping beauty of Trough Road and Sopris Creek Road."
The week features two, two-night stays to simplify logistics, the first of which is at Boulder where stage one offers a 112km (69 miles) loop back to the official start village, taking in the climb of Sunshine Canyon which tops out at 2,846 metres (9,336ft) on the way.
After that relatively easy first stage, things hot up on day two as the peloton makes its way from Boulder to Winter Park on a 129km (80-mile) stage dominated by two big climbs - Magnolia Drive and then Berthoud Pass which summits at 3,446 metres (11,307ft). Stage three from Winter Park to Avon is longer with three climbs but with less ascent than the day before.
Then comes the Individual Time Trial on day four around Avon which, unusually for the Haute Route, consists of two climbs in Mountain Star and Wildridge on a 17km (11-mile) route with a total of 650 metres or 2,060ft of ascent.
After a second night in Avon, the toughest part of the week begins as the riders tackle stages five and six which feature long distances and three big climbs each. Stage five from Avon to Snowmass Village is 164km (102 miles) and is dominated by Battle Mountain, Tennessee Pass and Independence Pass, the summit of which marks the highpoint of the week at 3,687 metres or 12,095ft.
Stage six is even longer at 170km (106 miles) and on the way from Snowmass Village to Crested Butte, the peloton will tackle the highest percentage of hard packed dirt on any one day with 38% of the distance made up of dirt roads. However these can still be ridden comfortably on a standard road bike.
After a bus transfer from Crested Butte to Colorado Springs, the finale is a 70km (44-mile) loop from, and back to, Colorado Springs with just the Gold Camp Road climb to negotiate before finishing in the incredible surroundings of Garden of the Gods Park where the inaugural Mavic Haute Route Rockies peloton can enjoy the satisfaction of having completed a phenomenal week of racing.
As in all Haute Route race-weeks, riders will benefit from full mechanical assistance from the event's Title Partner Mavic - drawing on decades of experience supporting the pro peloton in cycling's Grand Tours - in addition to daily stage timings, feed stations and Mavic's exclusive event jersey, bib shorts and arm warmers.
Off the bike, daily massages, food in the race village and transfer of luggage to accommodation between stages is provided - all hallmarks of the comprehensive event support experienced by riders in the European Haute Route series since 2011.
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