Report: Haute Route Mountain Time Trial

Halfway point in Haute Route and the riders race against the clock on Col du Granon

OTHER STAGES | STAGE 1 | STAGE 2 | STAGE 3 | Photos: Credit: OC Thirdpole

The riders competing in the first edition of the new Haute Route, today (Wednesday, 24th August) had a break from the usual long-distance format of the event. Instead, at the halfway stage of the seven-day competition, all the participants raced in an individual time trial on the Col du Granon in Serre Chevalier; the first time a time trial has been held in a multi-stage cyclosportive.

The Col du Granon, in comparison with the rest of the Haute Route, has been seen as a ‘rest day’ by some of the riders: “When I got up this morning I thought this would be a rest but with the adrenalin on the start line and the sheer steepness of it, we’ll have to see,” said Christopher Hay, a rider from Edinburgh,  just before the start.

The Col du Granon is 12km long and 2413m high. It  is steeper than most of the famous Cols with a 9.5% average gradient and a climb unknown to many, mainly because it finishes as a dead end; the Tour de France has only ascended it once in 1986. “The Col du Granon is not the most famous Col in the Alps, but it’s a very difficult one,” said Rémi Duchemin, CEO of OC ThirdPole, creators and organisers of the Haute Route. “I think it was a very big challenge for everybody this morning.”

The Haute Route is different to many cyclosportives in that it combines many different stage formats over seven days: “The idea was to propose different formats for the riders, so we could include classical stages like the first and second, an epic marathon leg like yesterday [Stage 3] and an individual time trial like we had today,” continued Duchemin.

The stage was won by former French mountain biking champion, Peter Pouly, in 43:04. Michel Roux came in second with 43:05 with Jean Baptiste Trauchessec in third (45:50). The highest place Brit, John Brown from Manchester, finished in 14th place with a time of 50:45.

Tomorrow, the 300 riders will compete over 119km between Serre Chevalier and Pra Loup, including 2800m of ascent in the fifth stage: “Tomorrow will be difficult and the riders will have to be quite careful about it. There are three Cols – the famous Col d’Izoard (2361m), the Col de Vars (2109m) and the arrival ascent to Pra Loup (1598m),” explained Duchemin.

He continued: “As of today, we have had only nine abandonments and one rider finishing out of the time limit. I think the average level of the peloton is in line with the difficulty of the Haute Route.  It’s a big challenge, probably one of the ultimate cyclosportives in Europe, and as it stands, I’m pretty sure that the majority of the peloton will finish in Nice on Saturday.”

The first edition of the Haute Route includes 300 riders competing as Solo, Duo or Team entries. In total, they will travel 730km, over 15 Cols and take on 17,000m of climbing; equivalent to climbing Everest twice. Starting in Geneva and ending in Nice, once riders complete the event they will know they have finished the highest and hardest cyclosportive on the planet.

Tomorrow’s time trial stage will start from Serre Chavalier at 7.30am. You can follow the riders live via GPS and find all our latest news about the Haute Route 2011 on the event’s official website:

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