TOUR DE FRANCE MOUNTAIN PASSES: THE MYTHICAL PYRENEES MOUNTAIN PASSES REOPENED. TOURMALET, AUBISQUE, SOULOR, MARIE-BLANQUE, LUZ ARDIDEN…
TOUR DE FRANCE MOUNTAIN PASSES: the mythical Pyrenees mountain passes reopened. Our CYCLING section celebrates today the reopening of the mythical mountain passes that since 1910 visit the Tour de France and La Vuelta a España. Names such as Portalet, Tourmalet, Aubisque, Soulor, Marie-Blanque or Luz Ardiden have become famous during the last century of cycling races and as of now we can coll them again.
Today we celebrate it with a double review of its history, from 1910 until today, including some photos of our last trips there last summer by Mayayo.
TOUR DE FRANCE MOUNTAIN PASSES:
THE MYTHICAL PYRENEES MOUNTAIN PASSES REOPENED
It all started in 1910…. On the occasion of the seventh anniversary of the competition, the organizers of the Tour wished to offer new sensations. Henri Desgranges, creator of the race, was looking for ways to introduce the Pyrenees mountain passes into the competition program.
To do this, he sent his collaborators on a field visit and the report they drafted was little less than apocalyptic: there were no roads, the wild beasts were camping at their own devices. The most amazing thing: Many locals didn’t even speak French, they spoke Béarnese dialect!
Be that as it was, on 19 July 1910 cyclists ventured for the first time to ascend the pass Portet d’Aspet and the pass of Ares, in the Perpignan-Luchon stage (289 km). The next day they meeted at 3:30 a.m. to return to Bayonne; a 325 km stage and the discovery of Pyrenean giants: Peyresourde, Aspin, Tourmalet and Aubisque.
On the Tourmalet, the winner of the day, Octave Lapize, set foot on the ground because the slope was too hard, he had to throw in the towel.
The same dantesque situation was repeated in the Aubisque, where he walked up throwing a cry of hate at the organizers: “You’re murderers.” It took more than fourteen hours until at last, he was crowned victorius in Bayonne.
From the platoon’s tail that day, better not to talk. Thus, from the first visit, 111 years ago, the legend of the mythical ports in the Pyrenees was forged, with Tourmalet and Aubisque at the head of all of them.
TOUR DE FRANCE MOUNTAIN PASSES: PYRENEES NEVER DISAPPOINTS.
Over the past half-time, more than a century have already been written chapters. Many epics, some even comical and unfortunately there has been also tragic moments. Among them, moments of sad memory such as the deadly fall of the Italian Fabio Castelli on the descent of Portet d’Aspet, in 1995 or that of Luis Ocaña and his abandonment in the port of Mind, in 1971.
There are also heroic moments for history: In 1913 the winner, Eugene Christophe, who had been beaten at the Tourmalet, had to reach Sainte-Marie-de-Campan to forge his own bike fork. Or in 1934, when René Vietto gave up his lead wheel to teammate Antonin Magne, who had fallen on the descent of Puymorens.
And there has been no lack of magnificent sporting memories: The solitary caval ride of the young Eddy Merckx, in 1969, who arrived at the Tourmalet 8 minutes before the second. Peyrosurde’s legendary relegation in 1983 by “El Loco de los Pirineos” a Delgado who risked his life there and didn’t even win the stage, but the cover of L’Equipe did. He also did not forget the victory of Marco Pantani, when he first set the finish line at the Plateau de Beille in 1998.
TOUR DE FRANCE MOUNTAIN PASSES: MIGUEL INDURÁIN’S PREFERRED ONE? TOURMALET.
The Navarrese, the tour’s penta-champion, has repeatedly confessed that the Tourmalet is his favorite pass in the world. He’s been up on a lot of occasions. And it was there, on his 1993 descent that we saw him give an exhibition on the descent as he rarely gave us.
Miguel arrived leading in the Pyrenees, but his great rival was Tony Rominger. The Swiss attacked on the climb. He managed to open a hole and crowned with about 50 seconds. His pace and reputation as a great downhill made us all fear the worst, as the leader began the descent seeking leadership.
Suddenly, the TV cameras focused on an unexpected cyclist….As coming out of nowhere, without anyone expecting it, and with speeds of more than 90 kilometers per hour, a yellow rocket appeared on the Clas cyclist’s wheel. No one had seen it coming, but Induráin attacked down and was able to take almost a minute from Rominger on the Tourmalet descent. Myth and legend.
Today, the Tour de France passes await us open now, after winter. By pedaling through them, you can relive those feats in passing and feel, each at your own pace, as one more of the incessant river of cyclists that since 1910 we suffer and enjoy alike in these mythical ports of the Pyrenees.
TOUR DE FRANCE MOUNTAIN PASSES: PHOTO GALLERY BY MAYAYO.
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Read the article in Spanish HERE