Haute Route Duo: Joined at the Bibs


Photo courtesy of Haute Route

The organizers of Haute Route have 86ed the Team ranking (and teams) from all their events, it seems. For 2019 they’ve now got two different and separate classifications: Solo and Duo.

I haven’t confirmed this, but I’m assuming that Solo remains the same as in the past, i.e. a normal leaderboard with individual rankings based on accumulated time.

Duo – the new kid (or kids…) on the block – is for, you guessed it, a team of two riders. I wrote this off immediately as ‘gimmicky’, but have come around the circle so far that John and I are now signed up for it.

First, the irritating part: If you choose to be a ‘duo’ you won’t be on the individual rankings, which are the ‘most important’. After re-realizing that I’m going to just be farther down the solo leaderboard than I was for the past two events anyway, I’ve suddenly taken a shine to this new category.

The way they rank a ‘duo’ is interesting, and sort of explains why you won’t be on the solo leaderboard: the daily (and overall) time of the slowest rider of the two is taken for the ‘team’, not the combined times. This changes race tactics drastically, as you can imagine. If combined times were the key to your success you would ride as individuals, trying to get the best times you could, leaving the slower rider in your dust if you had to. If you only consider the slowest rider’s time, the faster one will have no incentive to go ahead down the road. In fact it’d be more advantageous to ride together in the mini paceline on the few flats that exist in HR, and not far from each other on the climbs and descents either.

Of course once you add another person into the mix you also now have the added stress of not screwing up too much by bonking, falling or blowing up completely (all too common in this event). You’ll also want to make sure you are in good enough shape to keep up with your partner on the climbs, or at least have a friend who doesn’t mind waiting on frigid cols.

I’ll get John a warm jacket for his birthday…

7 thoughts on “Haute Route Duo: Joined at the Bibs

  1. Interesting. I hadn’t appreciated that for a duo entry it was only a single (slowest) time taken into account. I think this is not a good incentive where one of the pair is an obviously stronger rider: he/she will not have a happy event, nursing the weaker rider all week. I would not want to be a ‘nurse’ (where I was stronger) nor feel I was holding back a faster colleague. Look forward to seeing you in the Pyrenees but I’ll stick to toiling as a ‘solo’ rider.

    • I feel exactly the same as you, Jules. We an still change back to ‘solo’, so it could happen in the end, but luckily John and I are fairly evenly matched when we’re both in shape. Still, there are many ‘risks’ to consider. Looks like your training is going well – at least you are hitting some warm weather this winter!

  2. I stumbled across this as I’m also riding one of the (shorter) Haute Route events this year! Agreed that the duo ranking system could use some tweaking – it’s great that there’s an incentive to ride together, but the current “slowest time counts” approach must put a few potential duos off.

    Wouldn’t taking the combined time mean there’s a bit more flexibility / strategy in choosing how to ride the route? (Some may try a mini paceline, others may go all-out for their individual best times, etc.)

    • With all the Type As who ride Haute Route, I’d say it’ll put more than few off! I’m feeling like it’s designed for couples, but I could be way off there.

      Your idea is essentially what they used to do with teams, which were maximum 9 riders, but the top 3 times only were counted. I think it’d be best to do as you suggested and still keep everyone on the solo leaderboard. Everyone is happy!

      Which event are you riding, by the way? My tour company will be supporting riders at HRV and I’m thinking about doing HRAdH myself, if I’m free.

      • Oh nice! I’ll be riding the Dolomites. I was tempted by HRAdH but, since I’ve ridden the Marmotte the last few years (looks like you have too?), I wanted to head to a new area. AdH should be great fun though!

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