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Victorious in Venice

Riding into the Parco San Giuliano, with Venice in the background, hundreds of amateur riders from across the globe completed the Haute Route Dolomites this afternoon. Having departed from Innsbruck a week ago, each and every one of the riders will now be celebrating their amazing achievement after an eventful week of cycling.

After spending two nights in Canazei, today’s final sage set off at 7am for a three col route over the majestic Passo Fedaia, Passo Tiser and Passo San Boldo before stopping for their Finishers’ medals and polos in Conegliano and riding triumphantly into Venice in an escorted convoy.

Heading straight uphill out of Canazei this morning, riders were greeted with an 11km climb to the Passo Fedaia, the final col above 2000m this week. Averaging a rather pleasant 5.0%, the climb really finishes after 9km and plateaus for 2km to reach the col.

Riding along the plateau at the top of the climb the riders were treated to one of the best views of the week: a turquoise blue lake beneath the snow covered Marmolada glacier.

Jean-Christophe Charet from France was delighted to get the final big difficulty out of the way for this week and was looking forward to the final two climbs before getting his finisher’s medal: “the Fedaia was magnificent, everything was beautiful,” he said, “It’s the last day so I gave it everything, we’re nearly in Venice now!”

“My highlight of the week was the Renon Plateau though,” he added, “it was when we first got to see the Dolomites across the horizon and the whole stage was brilliant as well”.

Descending through the morning mist and ski lifts off the Fedaia only two climbs remained between the peloton and Venice; a short ascent over Haute Route newcomer Passo Tiser and the traditional Passo San Boldo to reach the final timing mat of the week.

After crossing the line atop Passo San Boldo, Andy Pearson from the UK reflected on the whole week and said his undeniable highlight was the Time Trial on Passo delle Erbe: “I loved the Time Trial,” he said, “just me against the mountain and the clock, pure climbing”.

“I’ve done the Pyrenees and the Dolomites now,” he added, “the plan is to come back next year to complete the treble in the Alps”.

Bruno Moares of Brazil rode the Alps in 2015 and the Iron event last summer before taking on the Triple Crown this year. Embracing his fellow Triple Crown finishers Guilherme Paião and Ian O’Hara at the summit of San Boldo, no words were needed between the three to express what they had just achieved.

“It’s going to be interesting going back to normal life next week,” said Bruno, “we’ve been living in a bubble for almost four weeks now. It will be weird not get up in the morning and go riding”.

Following the traditional break for lunch in Conegliano, riders assembled for a final time to parade into the Parco San Giuliano in an escorted convoy and complete the final stage of a memorable week.

Crossing the finish line with a smile on his face, John Schakel of the Netherlands was already thinking about his next Haute Route adventure, saying “It’s already the third time I’ve done the Haute Route, and I’ll be back next year for sure!”

Rounding out an incredible week of racing at the front of the peloton, with undoubtedly the tightest competition for the win we have had in years, Ruari Grant took the final stage victory and Cedrick Dubois held on to take home the overall victory by just 44 seconds ahead of Ruari. In the women’s race it was Marcella Toldi who took her 5th stage victory of the week and the overall victory, after conceding the first stage by just a minute to Briton Sophie Slaney, Marcella rode consistently throughout the week to win the overall.

After being unable to ride the Pyrenees due to a crash last year, Ruari Grant was delighted to finally be an Haute Route finisher this year and to have raced hard all week: “It was a close race all week, I tried to outsprint him to every timing mat, but it wasn’t enough,” he said. “I wish I hadn’t let him gain time on the first day, who knows what could have happened”.

Speaking at the end of the week in Venice, race director Davide Marchegiano expressed his gratitude towards those who made this week possible: “I want to say a huge thank you to all our partners, host venues and volunteers who allowed such a smooth organisation of this event,” he said, “a particular thanks goes to the ASCI and to its representative Emiliano Borgna for enrolling the Haute Route among the ACSI amateur cycling events and for all the support they provided”.

Returning for a 5th edition next year, the 2018 Haute Route Dolomites will yet again trace a stunning course through the iconic and dazzling Dolomites mountain range, including some of the most famous climbs but also some new hidden gems. Stay tuned in the coming months for further details on the course.

With Venice signalling the end of the weeklong Haute Route events this year, however that does not mean the Haute Route series is done for 2017. Taking place from October 6th to 8th, the inaugural Haute Route Ventoux promises a remarkable three days of riding around one of cycling’s most iconic mountains, and a memorable way to finish an incredible year of Haute Route events.

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