Friday, March 29, 2013

100 editions of the Tour d France, 1910

1910 Alcyon ridden by Octave Lapize FRA
This was the year the big mountains were introduced and the organisers didn't mess around with the choice of summits, creating a course where the riders tackled the Peyresourde, Tourmalet, Aspin and Aubisque. 

Unrelated to the mountains, it was also the year of the first TdF death, with Adolphe Heliere drowning in the med during a rest day dip!

The decision to include the high mountains was famously proceeded by Desgrange sending one of his staff to check out the route, 2 months before the event. Although in trying to cross the Tourmalet Desgrange employee Steinès become stuck in a snow drift before becoming lost in the snow after abandoning his car on the mountain side. Eventually he was rescued in the early hours by locals who found him trapped in a ravine after falling from an icy ledge. 
His famous telegram to the boss read, 
" No trouble crossing the Tourmalet. Roads satisfactory. No problem for cyclists. Stienés".

This wasn't the only famous quote from the 1910 Tour. On the 'Queen' stage the riders tackled four big mountains, concluding with the Aubisque, where Lapize was found by the organisers pushing his bike in second place, 15mins behind the lone and unknown leader. Lapize, through in a haze of fatique, uttered the words "Vous être des assassins!" and promised to quit at the next village.
But he didn't quit, he continued and sealed the win that would see him beat team mate, favorite and close rival Faber to his only Tour victory. Indeed he was never to even finish the Tour agin despite trying 4 more times though he did win many other prestigious events. 
Like many riders of this time he died during the war when his fighter plane was shot down near Verdun. He was 29.

Lapize on the Tourmalet

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