Next July will mark 100 years since Octave Lapize spat those words at Tour founder Henri Desgrange. Those venom-laced words came after the inclusion of the Tourmalet. Ever since that day, the Col du Tourmalet has towered both literally and figuratively over the Tour de France.
A few facts about the Tourmalet. The Tourmalet is 19.4 km long with an average gradient of 7.4% . It bites the hardest with a 10.2% max gradient at the very end. The Tourmalet has been featured more times than any other mountain pass in Tour history including the past two editions. Even the Vuelta has crossed the Tourmalet on a few occasions. However, there has not been a mountain top finish at the Tourmalet since 1974. I’m not counting the ’02 and ’04 finishes at La Mongie. The Tour just got too big for the Grande Dame.
So, what do you do for the 100th anniversary of the Col du Tourmalet? Well, word leaking out of Belgium via Cyclingnews is the Tour may have a stage finish at the summit of the Tourmalet. The stage finish will be on the second ascent of the mountain. That’s right, riders may have to ride up the mountain twice in one stage.
I think riders may spit out a few expletives of their own to mark the occasion. Remember David Millar’s finish line abandonment during the 2002 Vuelta? Leaving his bike at the finish line atop the Angliru. Didn’t Einstein talk about insanity as doing things over and over again? Maybe that will be the word sent the way of the latest Tour boss.