Haute Route time trial hitting Avon today
Cyclists filed out of Winter Park on a chilly morning Monday, dressed up and ready in anticipation of the fast and flowing descent to start Stage 3 of the Haute Route Rockies. Setting off in two groups, both quickly came face to face with the first difficulty on the day — a gravel climb over Cottonwood Pass. The two pelotons quickly split up as each and every rider found their own rhythm up the first climb.
Frenchman Gregory Delbaere, who rides for Team Type 1 — Haute Route’s official charity — said he enjoyed the start of the stage.
“The start was so fast, we were screaming downhill with the front group before reaching the gravel on Cottonwood,” he said.
Riding in the plains and surrounded by classic American ranches, Paul Bottrill of England also appreciated the start to the stage.
“The vistas are amazing here,” Bottrill said. “I could look over both shoulders and see for miles, the 360 degree panorama is breathtaking.”
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Riders regrouped atop Cottonwood into smaller pelotons and made their way down Byers Canyon along the Colorado River. The front group consisted of about 40 riders as they made the right hand turn onto Trough Road for the Muddy Man and Dirt Diva section.
GROSSMAN ON THE MIC
The emcee for the Haute Route Rockies is Eagle County local Larry Grossman, who had the music blasting as the riders flew past on Trough Road, aiming to post the fastest time on the gravel section to take home the Muddy Man and Dirt Diva prizes.
It seemed like all the riders were smiling and cheering they way down the final gravel section of the day; and the beauty of Trough Road through Eagle County didn’t go unnoticed. Finnish riders Antti Vuorikoski and Jarno Martikainen couldn’t get enough of it.
“That was fantastic, really fun!” Martikainen said.
“It’s beautiful, you have to stop and look around from time to time,” added Vuorikoski as they both biked off in direction of Wolcott.
After finishing the final gravel section, riders crossed the Colorado River for the final time and made their way up the Wolcott Divide, the closing 8 kilometer ascent of the day before a descent into Avon.
Alex Mehedff, from Brazil, was delighted to crest the summit of Wolcott, as the temperatures began to rise on what would become the hottest day so far this week.
“Today was easier than yesterday, I really enjoyed it,” Mehedff said. “I think the temperature on Wolcott made it harder than it should have been, but it’s definitely a nice climb to end the day.”
Returning for his second Haute Route experience after the Alps in 2014, Gavin Potter, from the U.K., summed up his third stage while cooling off atop Wolcott Divide.
“The stage was sublime, Trough Road was absolutely fantastic,” he said. “The final climb up Wolcott was just a case of pacing yourself to the summit, it was heating up and I can definitely feel the difference in the altitude here compared to when I rode the Alps.”
WATCH it TODAY
The first to make it to Avon were overall leaders Matt Busche and Emma Pooley. Busche took the win by 3 seconds, to extend his lead to 20 seconds faster than Matthew Davies; while Pooley won by a more comfortable 2 minutes and 37 seconds to extend her lead on Janel Holcomb.
The Muddy Man and Dirt Diva with the fastest times on Trough Road were Chris Pook, of Rhino Velo Race Team, and Janel Holcomb, of team Americans. Both took home a prize from the Team Type 1 foundation, and the glory of being the fastest gravel riders of the week.
Today’s stage is a Time Trial from Avon up to Wildridge on Buck Creek Road. Known by some as the rest day on the Haute Route, the Time Trial is either an opportunity to go easy and recover for the rest of the week, or to push your limits and gain a few spots on the general classification. Watch the riders depart out of Nottingham Park in timed intervals starting at 9 a.m., as they take their time descending back to Nottingham Park there will be a festive atmosphere to greet them with live music, vendors and activities underway until 8 p.m.