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‘Col d’Ornon and Col de Parquetout’ by Haute Route Rider Mikael Przysuski

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Today is the longest stage in the Haute Route and the race starts in Bourg d’Oisans, 15 km down the valley, at 7am. The alarm goes off at 4:45am, but by then I’ve already been awake for over an hour. 

The race starts and after barely three kilometers, we turn off the Col d’Ornon. Our frame of reference has been greatly distorted in this race, because we both find an 11 km-long climb of nearly six percent ahead of us as the perfect warm up for a day in the saddle.

The surrounding mountains are obscuring much of the light. The road follows the long mountainside with a valley on the left hand side, then across the river and continuing up the other side of the mountain. The climb is fairly bland and we are using it to get warm. There are no milestones and it’s cold, so I have to constantly remind myself to drink.

The descent livens us up, but it’s so early that my body still hasn’t really woken up.

We turn off the main road and into a little country lane. It rises and falls and weaves all the time and is very fun to ride.

Then the road starts to rise and it does so with a vengeance; half of the first km is around 15%. The road is narrow and passes through a dense forest. Before us is thick with cyclists.

It’s steep, but not impossibly steep. My legs feel relatively fresh after yesterday’s massage. After the initial steepness the road becomes less of a climb, but it is constantly over 10%. We overtake the Lanterne Rouge, who paused at the roadside and cheer for us as we pass by.

Our pit stop procedures are now so established that we hardly need to communicate. We take off from the col as soon as we have re-fuelled.

The road winds out beautifully in front of us surrounded by thick woods. All of a sudden people begin to fumble for cameras and smartphones as a fantastic view opens on the right side, with a valley, a small lake and surrounding mountains. It’s simply magical.

Mikael Przysuski, Sweden

HR Alps 2014

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