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.
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.