Aspen to see influx of cyclists Wednesday for Haute Route event | AspenTimes.com

Aspen to see influx of cyclists Wednesday for Haute Route event

Seeing a cyclist or two make their way down from Independence Pass into Aspen is a regular occurrence. Seeing more than 300 cyclists make the descent in one afternoon is more of a rarity.

This will be the case Wednesday, however, when the Mavic Haute Route Rockies 2017 cyclists make the trek from Avon to Snowmass Village via the pass. The "gran fondo"-style ride is a seven-stage event that began in Boulder and ends in Colorado Springs. The Avon-Snowmass route is the fifth stage, a 102-mile ride that features more than 8,800 feet of vertical gain.

"Spirits are high and people are really enjoying their time here," race director Chandler Smith said Tuesday afternoon. "For a lot of these folks, they have very high, majestic mountains in the Alps, but they don't really have riding that is sustained at such a high elevation like they are going to see here."

The Mavic Rockies event this week marks the first time the European-based Haute Route has made it to North America. Most of the events take place in the Alps, Dolomites or Pyrenees mountains of Europe. Of the roughly 500 registered riders this week — not all of which are taking part in today's stage — organizers say 65 percent come from outside the United States.

Race organizers expect to have between 300 and 400 cyclists make their way through Aspen Wednesday, beginning with the top riders around noon and the rest trickling in throughout the remainder of the day. Cyclists will use Owl Creek road to reach Snowmass Village. On top of the riders, there will be a bevy of support vehicles in tow, as well.

The sixth stage Thursday takes cyclists from Snowmass Village to Crested Butte, while the final stage Friday is a circuit beginning and ending at the Garden of the Gods near Colorado Springs.

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For more information, visit http://www.hauteroute.org.

acolbert@aspentimes.com