When I was invited to the Haute Route team, I was number four. There were a number of others interested, but had not yet committed. We scrambled to try and fill the spots, and within days, the team was full.
Gerry has posted the bios of all team members here. It is quite an interesting mixture. We have two USA representatives (including yours truly), one Irish, one English, and five Canadians, one of whom lives in France. Most of these new teammates are incredibly strong. Shawn Bond is a Cat 3 Racer. Robert Armstrong has an impressive laundry list of accomplishments, which you can read about at his blog here.
It will be interesting with a majority of the team being Canadian. My wife grew up near the border, and considers herself honorary Canadian. She’ll have to get me up to speed on the culture up north. She has already encouraged me to try poutine, but having heard the ingredients, it will probably cost me a mile per hour in France. She is tentatively planning to join me for the first part of the Tour depending on logistics.
Fortunately I was able to invite Wes, a local friend and very strong rider, who will hopefully be my occasional trainer partner over the next year. He used to race, bought a new bike earlier this year, and is a difficult wheel to stay with. Some of the climbing will be new to him, but we have plenty of difficult climbs in the Blue Ridge for training purposes.
Thanks for all the coaching suggestions after my initial France announcement. It was nice to get so many different ideas. I settled on Bobby Sweeting from the Kenda/5-Hour Energy team. He is recent transplant to Asheville, NC, by way of Florida and then Connecticut. From what I understand, he is a beast on the bike. More importantly, he has coached a friend and blog reader, and I have seen the results firsthand (translation: I got dropped). We are going to start up in November, and will hopefully continue until the main event.
The date for next year has still not been officially announced, but we have it on good authority that it will be August 18-24th. That sounds about right, as it is the same time of the year as this year’s ride.
The course has not been announced either, but most likely it will again be Geneva to Nice over 7-days. This year’s course went through 19 classic Cols, with a time-trial up Alpe D’Huez. Needless to say, for a climber like myself, this will be the adventure of a lifetime.