Within a rarely explored cycling environment, the Maserati Haute Route Norway offers some breath-taking scenery, challenging climbs, and as Peter Denton of Maserati North Europe reflects “I don’t know a lot of north Europeans that come to Norway to cycle so it felt like it had something interesting about it.”View on Instagram
Now, squinting through the small oval window of the aeroplane, we pass over clusters of islands that appear to have been scattered across the North Sea as if some Norse God had sneezed while he was trying to finish off the coastline. Giddy at the prospect of riding through this relatively untouched landscape, the excitement builds.
Out on the road, we are not disappointed. The smoothest tarmac is spread out before us, winding its way through the epic landscape, mountains mirrored in the crystal blue stillness of the adjacent fjords. It’s no wonder Maserati chose Norway from the ever expanding Haute Route series. “Some of it comes down to the challenge of an Haute Route event, some of it comes down to the quality of the experience for the individuals that attend,” Denton tells us. “A sporting event that is challenging but also high profile and high standard means that it sits well in terms of the Maserati brand. We can’t deliver something that is a low standard and connect the Maserati brand to it.”
This three-day cyclosportive features timed and ranked stages – and just like previous Haute Route events allows amateur riders of a range of abilities to be treated like pros. That said, it’s not all bums on saddles. Taking a ferry to the start line, and a ferry from the finish, the Maserati Haute Route Norway is like no other.
“Norway being Norway, we need to embrace what it has to offer – we do take a lot of ferries,” Julie Royer, Haute Route’s new Event Manager tells us. “We are aiming to have 350 riders next year and moving those people around and making sure they are safe on the road is a challenge. This is why we work with a local team who know the roads inside and out.” Add this to a blend of key ‘Haute Route’ characteristics; male: female, amateur: pro, local: international, and the Maserati Haute Route Norway comes to life.
The views appear and unfold before us, switchback after switchback. It’s a bucket-list climb for any cyclist
Making our way across the picture-perfect Lysefjord into Lysebotn, with a few pauses to take in some touristic highlights enroute, we arrive with an excited patter of cleats from the ferry and onto dry land before setting off for the eagerly anticipated climb ahead. The initial 1.5km of tunnel plays with our senses from the offset; heading into the dark, we are met with damp, chilly air before we turn to double back on ourselves; definitely uphill, the exact gradient is difficult to fathom. Heading towards the light and the tunnel exit, the views appear and unfold before us, switchback after switchback. It’s a bucket-list climb for any cyclist.View on Instagram
The promise of rain and a scattering of tougher pitches add to the dramatic atmosphere, and as the summit approaches through the mist so too does a somewhat surreal expanse of stone formations that had been made over time by preceding visitors to the Stavanger region.
On the road, a complete rolling support crew that extends to Mavic cars, media teams and medical assistance, all well versed in dealing with cycling professionals, accompanies us throughout the event. The simple logistics that have been coordinated for this three-day event allow the riders more time to soak up the Norwegian lifestyle between stages.
Preserved white wooden houses are dotted against the backdrop of Norwegian fjords and mountains. The hub for the trip is the lively town of Stavanger, which has retained its village-like character and boasts an array of activities and scenic locations for you and the family to enjoy during or following the cycling.
It’s clear that the Haute Route team are going big – they have a portfolio of some powerful and well-established events that they are rightfully proud of, and they want to explore further afield. Holding her cards pretty close to her chest, Beth Hodge, the Haute Route’s Strategic Development Executive, wasn’t letting any secrets out. “It’s a really exciting time for the Haute Route. We are developing our portfolio of events and will be introducing some exciting things in the near future.” So, with the carrot well and truly dangled, I try to steal a snippet of what’s to come. “Norway! Where have you been these last few days, Lorena?” Royer teases.
Indeed, after three days enjoying some of the world’s most picturesque cycling, there’s really no need to look any further afield.
Entries for the Maserati Haute Route Norway will be open soon, in the meantime you can pre-register here: hauteroute.org