When team ashmei descended on the Italian Alps for Haute Route Stelvio back in June, we were introduced to Copenhagen-based Claus Nielsen. We immediately knew we wanted this effortlessly cool Dane on the ride team. Hopefully you’ll see why as he summarises his experience in this Haute Route Dolomites review…
Brief numbers for my Haute Route Dolomites review: 325km; 3 stages; 8,000m elevation; max speed 89km/h; a lot of climbs, including – Passo di Lavazé, Passo Nigra, Passo Pinei, Passo Sella, Passo Valles, Forcella Aurine, Passo Cereda, Passo Rolle, not forgetting the tough TT 17km at Alpe di Pampeago (last 7,9km, 9,8%). If you’re interested, check out Pantani winning the Giro stage here in 1999, but I believe it last figured in the Giro in 2008.
Overall it was another super cool event delivered by the Haute Route team. I think these three day events are becoming more and more popular, which you can see from their 2019 range of events. They now have a total of 10, starting with Oman, Muscat in March and finish off with Mexico in October. They only do three seven day events.
For the Dolomites edition, I ended as #26 out of about 140 participants, but just 100 got time registered (there is a daily cut off time). In context, this saw me come in two hours after the overall winner Ferara Fortunato (Italy) with a total moving time of 9:32h. For context, the slowest rider was a British guy who had a moving time of 14:23h. I finished #2 in my age group 50-59 out of 30 – just 7 min behind #1). In fact, I was actually #1 in my age group after day one, but dropped about 9 min to #2 on stage 2. Thinking back, it was especially Passo Rolle that killed me. That last climb of 22km with an average 5.7% elevation was actually nothing too crazy but I found my legs tiring after day one one, I guess (day one 160km 4,000m elevation, day 2 120km 3,300 m elevation).
Since I started cycling in 2010, I’ve done a few races like Le Claude Criquielion, La Marmotte, Maratona dles Dolomites, Ötztaler Radmarathon etc plus Haute Route Alps, 7 days Nice-Geneva, Haute Route Stelvio with ashmei and Passoni and then Haute Route Dolomites. The one day events/Gran Fondos are okay but they are ”gone too fast”. In contrast, the seven days I did from Nice to Geneva was fantastic with 21 cols, 860km and 22,000 m of elevation. But it was tough. Tough not so much due to the daily 120-145km and +3,000m elevation, but more because of the whole circus of moving hotel every day. And you need to take 10 days out of the calendar. The three day events are just at the right level in terms of length, elevation – plus you can stay in the same hotel.
Two days of hard riding and then you finish with a mountain time trial. Also you have less participants (more around the 200ish versus the 500 at the seven days events), which means you get to know people better (due to the many climbs) and you have a very strong support from Haute Route and Mavic team out on the course. And a cool way to get an insight into the Haute Route races are the daily videos that are produced – check them out here for stage 1, 2 and 3.
What topped it off for me was being kitted out in the ashmei cycling gear. I did the time trial in my KOM Jersey and used the Emergency Jacket every day. I am normally a vest/gilet guy, but I have to say I changed after I got the Emergency Jacket. It packs down to nothing so works better than the vest, especially in the mountains. I should add that I also did find myself using it during the summer mornings in Copenhagen. I packed the 3 Season Jersey but did not use as I felt the weather was too sunny for black/black, but I did get to test it out recently in Copenhagen on my Gravel bike; cloudy and 15c; a really nice experience….
Catch you out on the mountain?