Vicenzo Nibali, aka "The Shark" - remember him?

Winner of all three Grand Tours - the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and La Vuelta - the recently retired pro is to join riders on this year's Haute Route Pyrenees.

The news comes as Haute Route announce a new deal with Italian kit brand Q36.5, for whom Nibali is an ambassador.

"Hand-crafted in Italy from proprietary fabrics that are sourced within 350km from their Bolzano headquarters, Q36.5's equipment keeps a rider's core temperature at its optimal 36.5ºC at all times, during all conditions," say Haute Route.

You can check out the kit here - use the discount code "HAUTEROUTE20" for 20% off.

But what about Haute Route?

Haute Route Alps and Pyrenees are open for business. Could Italy be next?
Haute Route Alps and Pyrenees are open for business. Could Italy be next?
Sold by owners Ironman towards the end of 2023, the series is a shadow of its former self these days. Just two events - Haute Route Alps and Pyrenees - are taking place in 2024.

The rest of the HR series, which saw events in locations including the Rockies, Norway, Ventoux and Dolomites, disappeared without trace.

It's a significant loss to the calendar, with Haute Route events setting new standards for competitive amateur cyclists seeking a pro-level experience with bucket-list destinations.

Does the partnership with Q36.5 - and Nibali - signal a return to Italy could be in the pipeline? Or has the Haute Route series jumped the shark?

Haute Route's new owners, France Vélo Evènements (FVE), have said they will focus on the two flagship French events first. But, with their stated goal being to reach Europe's gran fondo audience, expansion would seem a logical next step.

For now, entries to this year's Haute Route Alps and Pyrenees are still open. Haute Route promise the same tried-and-tested formula cyclists have come to expect.

Haute Route Pyrenees takes place 1-5 July over five stages. Riders will tackle 588km in total, with 14,000m of climbing and a chance to tick off Col d'Aspin, Col du Tourmalet and Col de l'Aubisque from your list.

Places are currently available priced at €1449.

Haute Route Alps. Could be a decent week on the bike...
Haute Route Alps. Could be a decent week on the bike...

Next it's the turn of the Alps.

Haute Route Alps runs from 25-31 August, with seven stages totalling 714km and a staggering 19,400m of climbing.

Those climbs include icons of cycling: Col de la Colombière, Col de la Madeleine, Col du Glandon, Alpe d'Huez, Col du Lautaret - you get the idea - as the tour winds south from Megeve to Nice over seven days.

It's a bit like riding L'Etape du Tour every day for a week. If that sounds like your dream come true, you can register now for €2099.

For more details and to book your place, visit the Haute Route website at