Haute Route Alps 2021 - the toughest amateur cycling race

Grand Tours Project Team

Sep / 9 / 2021

The 10th anniversary of the Haute Route Alps Race. Grand Tours Project were there to provide a training camp for our UAE guests prior event and assist them during the 7 day epic amateur Alps race.

There is no shying away from the fact that this race is the hardest and steepest amateur race in the calendar. Megève to Nice - 800 kilometres, an average of 3,200 metres ascent each day and over 21,000 metres ascent in total! Including a professional styled time trial.

Yes it is a race and there are ex-professional riders, club riders and extremely dedicated individual road warriors. There are also cyclists testing their limits, seeking to accomplish a goal or just wanting to reach the finish and if not, then come back another time to try again.

This year was the 10th anniversary of the Haute Route Alps Race. Grand Tours Project provided a week-long training camp near Annecy for a group of young men from the UAE. Peter Murdoch was their guide and helped to acclimatise them to the high altitudes, to give advice on mountain climbing and descending, pre ride preparation and recovery strategies specific to mountainous terrain.

Josep Miralles was there to provide the mechanical expertise, the vehicle support and more importantly, the sport massages after arduous days in the saddle. His friendly and relax demeanor is always assured.

The routes were specially chosen by Uri Martins, our ex-professional rider and chief organiser of Grand Tours Project tours and events. His aim was to ensure that our guests had the best opportunity to climb and descend without overdoing the fitness as well as enjoy the best that Annecy has to offer.

They managed to climb several well-known cols…. Col des Aravis, Col de la Croix Fry, Col de l´Arpentaz, Col du Prè & Cormet de Roselend among others. And despite the weather conditions, endured the worst and survived!

And then it was time to arrive at the Haute Route Alps Race in pretty Megève. Josep and Pete escorted them to their hotels and helped them to register and get prepared. On day one of the race, our young men from the UAE as well as Pete were as ready as they would ever be for a first time attempt. There were over 400 participants, and everyone was aiming to do their best.

Peter was out the front leading the charge and exhorting his mantra, ‘Pace yourself!’ His epic blog provides all the descriptions and thought machinations that Pete went through to finish a respectful 163 overall! It also highlights how tough it is, but also how manageable, if it is taken step by step. As one would expect of a race in the Alps, there are many tortuous climbs and it appears that they are all beautiful and awesome. One stands out, the climb to Lac de Roselend on day 2 - he highly recommends that cyclists climb the most beautiful ascent and be stunned by the lake views. His blog is also amusing in the way that he approached each day and was always tactically thinking...and just how competitive our Pete really is! This quote captures it,

Over the crest I flew down to the next feed station, grabbed some food and joined another group exiting the stop. This started some FULL GAS racing along the flats. The group consisted of 10 of us and it ended up with a rider from France and I working hard to pull this group along. We hit a climb and pushed hard and blew those not working out the back. The rest of us pushed on together catching another group who joined in our efforts to fly up the final climb. It was the most exhilarating bit of racing I have ever done and made me wish I had started bike racing from a younger age.

Our guests experienced something special and some finished, others didn’t. But given they don't live in the Swiss Alps like Pete, their achievements were outstanding. They found the race very difficult but were very happy with Grand Tours Project support, they felt like pros. Without the GTP team, it would not have been possible to achieve such a challenge. Salem, one of the riders, stated that he appreciated the help and cooperation and “for me I wouldn’t accomplish the Haute Route Alps without their support”. If they return to do another Haute Route race, they would get in touch with Grand Tours Project.

So, are you ready to do a Haute Route race? Anything is possible and it's an opportunity to test your limits and see an amazing part of Europe. Have a look into our Haute Route Series by Grand Tours Project!