Haute Route Dolomites Stage 2: Crans Montana to St Moritz
The hardest fucking stage I’ve ever done. Even harder than any one day race, I’ve done. The organisers rated this stage as 3/5. I’d rate it 8/5. Different perspectives. The weather was dry at least. Dropping down out of Crans Montana and then a false flat (false flat, my arse) in the neutralised section for the first 80km. Then we had to scale the tarmac tsunami.
The Nufenenpass is a beast of a climb. It’s 2478 metres high, 14km long at 8.3%. That on paper looks easy, it’s anything but, especially with an 80km climb to lead you in. The hardest thing is that you can almost see the top from the bottom of the climb. It’s physiologically damaging to be able to see the point to which you will climb. There’s nothing nice to say about this first climb, so I won’t.
The descent was great, just sadly ruined by a headwind and the fact that it wasn’t timed. Smashing straight from the bottom of the Nufenenpass on to the Gotthard Pass or St Gotthard Pass (Italian: Passo del San Gottardo, German: Gotthardpass) at 2,106 m and 8.1%. These names and numbers don’t describe the pain I was in. I was fucked. Then I was fucked with 12km of climbing, and 7 on cobbles. Apparently, they’re swiss cobbles, so all was good. Swiss or not, they were brutal. Coupled with a headwind, for what felt like most of the climb!
The wind hit you as you turned left, to face the top of the climb. I was praying that the right stretches were longer than the left-hand stretches. That wasn’t the case. I tried desperately to ride on the smooth edges. Even they didn’t reduce the stress that much. I was doing everything in my power to find the smoothest path. But just like everyone else, we were all suffering, and that’s what got me to the top. Everyone had the same story.
So I crossed the finish line. Hooked myself up a shower and then some food. I then hopped on the 5 O’clock bus. This is where it got really tiring. I sat next to a delightful French woman from the Jura. She couldn’t speak English. I used all of my French skills for the next 4 hours. I was physically, and now mentally, rooted. We arrived in St Moritz at 9 pm. I was as hungry as a horse. I checked in to the hotel and found my way to the buffet.
I’m not sure the hotel made any money that night at the buffet. A large group of desperately hungry cyclists descended like a pack of vultures. I had four helpings, and then dessert. Checked back into my room for the night ready for a 4:40 am wake up call. Just to do it all over again! I didn’t even get to see anything of St Moritz.
Overall Position: 172