100 years ago today the Tour de France headed into the high mountains of the Pyrenees for the very first time and this film follows four riders, including road.cc’s very own Mat Brett, as they attempt to tackle the original Pyrenean stage – a 326km (204-mile) epic from Luchon to Bayonne taking in over 6,000m of climbing.
The Tour de France was in its eighth edition when the organisers decided to include the Pyrenees for the first time. They’d previously thought that the massive mountains, with their poorly surfaced roads, would be too difficult and dangerous. But in a huge about-face on the part of race founder Henri Desgrange, the initial visit to the Pyrenees included the Peyresourde, Aspin, Tourmalet, Soulor, Aubisque and Osquich in a single day – 21 July 1910.
As well as the crazy terrain and ridiculous distance, that stage is remembered best for the words of eventual stage and overall winner Oscar Lapize. As he crested the summit of the Aubisque he shouted to Tour officials: “Vous êtes des assassins! Oui, des assassins!” And not in a jokey way (we’re sure you can work out the translation for yourself).
Bike clothing maestros Rapha organised a group of riders to take on the same route 100 years on: Graeme Raeburn and Ultan Coyle, who both work for Rapha, Phil Deeker, who runs Rapha’s Cent Cols Challenge, plus our man Mat.
How did they get on? Well, we don’t want to give away the ending, do we? Press ‘play’ to find out.
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.