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Haute Route Dolomites Stage 7

Haute Route Dolomites Stage 7

So this is what it was all about, Haute Route Dolomites Stage 7! I’d been dreaming of this day since the first stage of the Haute Route Alps. Now it has come too soon. Just as I am getting strong and returning to fitness, it’s all about to finish. With just one significant climb, and a pimple, it’ll be downhill all the way to Venice.

The first, and most impressive climb, is the Passo Giau. What a cracking climb this turned out to be. Climbing just over 1000 metres at 6.2% makes it seem fairly ordinary. Add to the fact that you climb to 2236 metres high, and that I was suffering at altitude, it’s a climb of two halves. The first 7 km are gentle, and really lead you into a false sense of ease. The next 10km are fricking steep.

Haute Route Stage 7

Haute Route Stage 7 going over the Passo Giau

The timing section started as soon as we left the quaint town of Cortina d’Ampezzo. You’re up and straight into it. The scenery here is to die for. The road has a great seal and is wide enough. Once you’re closer to the top it opens up to such a magnificent vista, it’d be criminal not to stop and take some pics. And that’s just what I did. Actually, the scenery from the start to, almost, the finish is amazing. If you ever get to do this route, don’t race by to eagerly. Stop and reflect on what you’re seeing.

Racing down the Giau was great. It’s very fast, so you have to have your wits about you. The valley downhill drag to the base of Passo San Boldo was great fun. I managed to get into group, along with Commander James. Between him and myself, we managed to orchestrate a decent bunch. We were only halted by a flock of sheep crossing the road. You don’t get to see shepherds and dogs crossing the road with large flocks of sheep, these days. It was a sight to behold, especially with a group of 30 cyclists desperately trying to navigate their way through them. Just ease the fuck up and watch something you may never see again!

Haute Route Dolomites Stage 7 Cortina d'Ampezzo to Venice

Haute Route Dolomites Stage 7 Cortina d’Ampezzo to Venice. The Passo Giau

The group was working well, until another group joined us. At this stage we were 40 strong. Far too large to make it work, and to be safe. I tried to break away from the bunch, bringing the Commander with me. I couldn’t manage it fr too long. They caught me after about 5 minutes. But fuck, I was feeling strong. With this is mind, I should have given the Passo Giau all I had.

The bunch smashed it to San Boldo. Then I made my break again. Chris Fisher, Mark Cozens, and I joked that we would ‘big ring it’ all the way to Venice. Although I couldn’t manage the Giau, I did manage the San Boldo. Only one rider passed me, but I passed many. Even riders that had passed me on the Giau. This is what I imagined that I would feel like at the start of the haute Route Dolomites. Especially, given that I’d just completed the Haute Route Alps.

Haute Route Dolomites Stage 7

Stage 7 of the Haute Route Dolomites

So with the finish line in sight, or at least the timed finish line, I made a dash for it. Now it was all over bar the singing, or drinking! Haute Route Dolomites Stage 7 was complete. ‘I’d knocked the bastard off’ as they like to say in New Zealand. I felt even better knowing that of all the Iron Riders for the Haute Route Alps and Dolomites, I’d finished 3rd. I joked with Mark that I’d podium’d.

Now the final leg in the journey of the Haute Route lay ahead. The amazing descent of the Passo San Boldo is an engineering feat. At the bottom, on the reverse side that we climbed, it looks as though the road is just stacked on top of each other, almost vertically. It’s a man made thing of beauty.

The timed stage wasn’t very long, only 100km. Now it was 78km to Venice from the top of Passo San Boldo. We did stopped for lunch in Coneliagno. From there we practically raced to Venice. The bunch got impatient. We were supposed to leave Coneliagno at 3:30. Instead we left at 1:30. A large group of us headed into town. The pace was just as fast as the actual race. Everyone was nervy, the tension in the peloton was palpable. I was just praying that I wouldn’t crash. I didn’t.

It was over, bar the closing ceremony. I’ll write about that next.

Haute Route Dolomites Stage 7 Position: 154

Haute Route Dolomites Overall Position: 156



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