OC Sport, organizer of the Haute Route series of week-long sportives, announced the Mavic Haute Route Rockies route Wednesday. The 2017 ride will be the first U.S. Haute Route event, something unique among American recreational cycling events as it is essentially a stage race comprised of point-to-point gran fondos. The event takes place June 24-30 in Colorado.
Haute Route brought me along to test out the route in 2016, along with a group of fellow journalists. Now that we can finally share the details of the route, here’s a cheat sheet of the stages. That said, stages 4 and 7 are different from what we rode last June, and my Strava routes are probably not exactly the same as the 2017 event routes.
Stage 1: Boulder – Boulder (112km, 1,900 meters/69 miles, 6,280 feet)
Climb: Sunshine Canyon 2,849 meters/9,338 feet
As you likely know, VeloNews is based in Boulder, so this was something of a home stage for me. The mileage is deceiving — Sunshine is a long climb with steep ramps early that put you in the hole and then more tough pitches later once you’re on the dirt.
Stage 2: Boulder – Winter Park (129km, 3,300 meters/80 miles, 10,880 feet)
Climbs: Magnolia Drive 2,501 meters/8,205 feet, Central City Pkwy Climb 2,712 meters/8,898 feet, Berthoud Pass 3,446 meters/11,307 feet
I’m calling this one the queen stage. Stage 5 may be longer, but this was far harder. Magnolia is the steepest paved road out of Boulder, and you start on that within the first five miles. Then, you spend lots of time at high altitude, on the Peak to Peak Highway before Berthoud Pass, the highest point on the entire route. Ouch.
Stage 3: Winter Park – Avon (153km, 2,000 meters/95 miles, 6,630 feet)
Climbs: Cottonwood Pass 2,713 meters/8,901 feet, Trough Road 2,500 meters/8,202 feet, Wolcott 2,510 meters/8,235 feet
If stage 2 is the hardest, stage 3 might be the most fun. It’s a net downhill, albeit with a few short climbs along the way. (Don’t be confused — this “Cottonwood Pass” is not the monster that they rode in the Pro Challenge a few times.) Plus, the dirt section on Trough Road is divine.
Stage 4: ITT Avon – Avon (17km, 650 meters/11 miles, 2,060 feet)
Climbs: Mountain Star 2,584 meters/8,478 feet, Wildridge 2,646 meters/8,681 feet
We did a different ITT route for the test event, so I’m sorry, I don’t have any beta on this route.
Stage 5: Avon – Snowmass Village (164km, 2,700 meters/102 miles, 8,850 feet)
Climbs: Battle Mountain 2,792 meters/9,161 feet, Tennessee Pass 3,177 meters/10,424 feet, Independence Pass 3,687 meters/12,095 feet
This is a one-of-a-kind route between the famous Independence Pass and a ride through the high mountain plateau to Leadville (see photo below). The initial climb up Battle Mountain is tough, so be ready for that from the get-go. Naturally, Independence Pass is very long and difficult, with steep ramps coming at the top.
Stage 6: Snowmass Village – Crested Butte (170km, 3,000 meters/106 miles, 9,970 feet)
Climbs: Sopris Creek Road 2,474 meters/8,117 feet, McClure Pass 2,669 meters/8,755 feet, Kebler Pass 3,050 meters/10,007 feet
Unlike most of the stages, this one starts with a pretty fast downhill, so you’ll want to pack a vest or perhaps a windbreaker. McClure Pass might feel a little short after the mammoth climb up Independence, but Kebler Pass is plenty long with many false summits but even more great viewpoints and aspen groves.
Stage 7: Colorado Springs – Colorado Springs (70km, 1,400 meters/44 miles, 4,590 feet)
Climbs: Gold Camp Road 2,275m / 7,464ft
This is the second stage that is different from the test event. Hopefully, however, you’ll be able to enjoy a ride through the famous Garden of the Gods, like we did in 2016: