Haute Route Blog: Day 4
by Adam Tranter
The second edition of the Haute Route is underway. 780km and 19 mountains; a monumental challenge for every one of the 600 riders, it’s also a fairly substantial challenge for the 150-strong support crew. In that crew is Adam Tranter, who is taking on the 780km himself, on the back of a motorbike, which we’re fairly sure is cheating.
Today was a very different day to yesterday. There were no early starts, no point to point multiple mountain routes and no mass start. It was the day of the Alpe d’Huez time trial; in comparison to what came before it, there might have been some justification in classing it as a ‘rest day’.
Riders left in 10-second intervals. Some attacked the Alpe in the same way they’d seen the pros do it countless times before, some took in the scenery and some went into self preservation mode ahead of tomorrow’s long, 5/5 difficulty-rated stage.
Some riders worked together for a moral boost
Alpe d’Huez is arguably one of the most famous climbs in cycling. For some 600 riders to take on the same roads as the pros, in a competitive environment, during a 7-stage event really is something unique. It’s not my first time to Alpe d’Huez, I’ve been to it to ride up it, to watch races, and even travelled there just to ride down it (can’t believe I’m admitting to that). But, today was honestly a very different and special day to what I’ve seen before here.
Faster riders encouraged slower riders, friends got through it together and some people went nuts and attacked the thing. Peter Pouly was one of them, who finished in 42 minutes and 20 seconds, amazingly close to the seemingly untouchable record of Marco Pantani and 37 mins 35 secs.
Today marks the event being at over the half way point. As well as the late start, riders finished earlier and can enjoy a well-deserved rest ahead of tomorrow. Stage 5 runs from our base here in Alpe d’Huez to Risoul; in between those two points our four Cols, including the brutal Col d’Izoard.
Today's time trial will be followed by a much longer, much harder stage tomorrow
The Izoard isn’t a nice climb. A few years ago, on holiday, I came across a man sat with his head in his hands on a bend on the climb. It was 33-degree heat, he was sweating profusely with a swarm of flies buzzing over his head. He had broken, here’s hoping that our Haute Routers are made of slightly more than that.
In fact, I think it’s fair to say our Haute Route riders have proved so far they are made of pretty tough stuff. The thing is with cycling like this, is that it’s hard for everybody; some just go faster than others. One man I’ve come across on the Haute Route who hasn’t let anything get in the way of doing what he wants to do is Christian Haettich. He has one arm and one leg, and has finished every stage of the Haute Route admirably. Respect.
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In fact, most days here I’ve seen something that’s made me smile or marvel at the wonders of human achievement. I’ll be honest, it’s pretty inspiring. I think I’ve seen quite a lot of human achievement in sport, but it’s always nice to see normal people achieve extraordinary things.
Then there’s me. My neck hurts a little bit from looking on a laptop too much. Puts it all into perspective, really.
Haute Route 2012
- 19/08/2012 - Geneva, Switzerland to Nice, France
- Haute Route Alps 2013 - 18/08/2013 - Geneva, Switzerland to Nice, France
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