Monuments in Cycling

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Last update:  07-May-2006

This page is about riders, known and unknown, who have contributed to cycling history by their sportive actions or by unforeseen events. It's a list of famous and important places in cycling: monuments, memorials, plaques and musea. Places to be quiet and to remember!

 

Monuments for persons in cycling

This part is about monuments and memorials of famous and less known riders and other people in cycling.
All locations are on or in the neighbourhood of a pass or other top.

Louison Bobet (1925-83,Fra) and Fausto Coppi (1919-60,Ita) - Col d'Izoard, below top

Place in Tour
47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55  
Coppi NP NP 1 NP 10 1 NP NP NP NP = Not participated
AB = abandon
Bobet AB 4 ? 3 20 AB 1 1 1

Bobet and Coppi (sea below) were the champions of the late 40-ties and early 50-ties. Only in 1949,51 and 52 they started together in the Tour. Bobet and Coppi became friends, trained together and talked about new training methods which Coppi already had tested. Coppi said that Bobet knows like nobody else how to suffer and his powers of recovery are unmatched. "The bike means everything to him. It is truly his life blood and his application to his chosen way of life is an example to every aspiring champion".

In 1949 Coppi placed in the his crucial jump in the 16th stage from Cannes to Briançon (275 km). On the false flat to Arvieux, at the foot of the Izoard, the two Italian champions jumped away so effectively that in 20 km they took 4 min. from the bunch. When Coppi punctured on the climb, Bartali waited for him and when Bartali punctured on the rough descent, Coppi similarly waited. On the last climb to the citadel in Briançon, Coppi allowed Bartali to win on what was his 35th birthday. Bartali now led, but Coppi had climbed from nowhere into second place overall, just a minute behind and the opponents Robic, Marinelli, Magni and Kübler were set to great distance.

The Breton Bobet was a great champion and a complete rider. In 1947 he started as a pro after being French Amateur Road Champion in 1946. By reaching the 4th place in the 1948 Tour he proofed to be a great talent. In the following years he won also a number major classic races but he had to wait till 1953 to win his first Tour.
Bobet was a complete and ambitious rider blessed with natural ability, a smooth pedalling stroke, intelligent and a great insight in the race development. But his dedication is what made him a champion. Bobet taught himself how to sprint and he used to sprint at the end of every race, whether for first place or fortieth. As a result of this training, he was able to beat the best sprinters of his day. He also trained in the mountains and could match the climbing specialists on the big climbs. In Bobet’s eyes there were no little races or unimportant victories. Every race mattered and he wanted to give his everything to his public. Bobet knew only one way of racing and that was to race to win, whatever the sacrifices demanded.
Many favourites started in the Tour of 1953: Robic and Bobet (Fra), Koblet and Schaer (Swi) and Géminiani and the old Bartali (Ita), Fausto Coppi didn’t participate. Hugo Koblet (fallen in the descent of the Col de Soulor and had to give up) and Jean Robic (fallen behind by a fall in the 13th stage) were the first drop outs. In the 18th stage from Gap to Briançon over the Col de Vars and Col d’Izoard Bobet strikes a heavy blow on the Izoard where Coppi is spectator and wins the stage with 10 min. ahead of his opponents. He could put on the yellow jersey which he should keep until Paris. Bobet became the first rider to win three consecutive Tour de France titles (1953-1955). (Philippe Thys (Bel) was Tour winner in 1913,14 and 20). He nearly missed the last one because by racing many races he was allready tired at the start.
Bobet’s career was effectively ended in the autumn of 1961 when his car skidded off the road into a boulder. Bobet broke his femur and his recovery was long and difficult. He eventually raced again, but retired the next year on August 10, 1962 at age 37. During his recovery he finds out about thalassotherapy and after his cyling career he became head of a therapeutic institute in Guideron. In Port Crouesty (in Brittany by the sea) you can find the Louison Bobet institute specialized in thalassotherapy. He died on March 13 1983, because of cancer, a day after his 58th birthday and is still considered of one of France best and popular riders ever.
2 Plates, offered by the readers of the French sport magazine l'Equipe, are placed on a small natural cone in a moon-shaped landscape called 'Casse Déserte', 1.5 km before the top of the Col d'Izoard


Courtesy of
Thomas Korten

 

Fabio Casartelli (1970-1995,Ita) - Portet d'Aspet

One of the most tragic events in cycling of the recent years is the death of Fabio Casartelli.
Casartelli, a sprint specialist and native of Como, Italy was a member of the U.S. Motorola team, turned professional in 1993, a year after winning the Olympic road race title in Barcelona. In his first pro season he won a stage in the Settimana Verfnasca and had three second-place finishes in stages of the Tour of Switzerland. Casartelli was taking part in his second Tour de France.
On July 18th, 1995, during stage 15 of the Tour de France in the Pyrenees from Saint Girons to Crête du Lys, Fabio Casartelli crashed and was tragically killed. On the descent of Col de Portet d'Aspet (with parts of 15%) Fabio Casartelli hit a low concrete wall with his head wearing no helmet. On his way to the hospital in the helicopter he died after 3 heart attacks.
The Tour continued but the next stage the riders decided to honor Fabio by letting the Motorola team with Lance Armstrong as leader finish first.
Shortly after his crash, the Motorola team and the Societe du Tour de France placed a memorial stone dedicated to Fabio at the spot where he crashed. Fabio's son, Marco, was baptised on October 22, 1995 in the chapel at the Madonna del Ghisallo. His bicycle was placed in the shrine in his memory.
In Albese Con Cassano (near Como), his place of birth, stands a white marble statue. Exactly on the day and the hour of Fabio's accident a ray of sunshine falls through a small hole on a copper plate with a text. The day after the Giro d'Italia a criterium race is held with all the stars of the Giro.

 

 

Eugene Christophe (1885-1970,Fra) - Col de Tourmalet

A classic story from the early years of the Tour. Eugene Christophe is perhaps one of the unluckiest riders ever.
At the start of the 6th stage of Tour de France 1913, in the Pyrenees from Bayonne to Lucon passing 4 cols (Aubisque, Tourmalet, Aspin, Peyresourde,total 326km!). Odiel Defraye is the leader 5 min. before Eugène Christophe. On the Tourmalet Eugene Christophe passes the top as second after the Belgian Philippe Thys. In the descent he hits a car and breaks his fork. So poor Christophe had to walk 14 km down a mountain to the little village of Sainte Marie-de-Campan where he went to the village blacksmith and beat out a makeshift repair. So strict were the rules in those days that every rider had to solve his technical problems without getting any help. Having a boy pump the bellows cost him a penalty of 1 minute!  4 hours later he continues and 'Cri-cri' finished the stage 3h50' after Philippe Thys. Under the circumstances his final seventh place 14h from Philippe Thys at the Paris finish was something of a miracle.
All through the war Eugene Christophe plotted his revenge. Come 1919 he was ready. Midway through the race he went into the lead. It was on the stage to Grenoble that Desgrange got yet another promotional brainstorm. The next morning Christophe left town wearing the first "maillot jaune", the famous yellow jersey signifying the race leader. Yellow, because that was the color of the pages of Desgrange's newspaper. (The successor "L'Equipe", today's race sponsor, is still printed in yellow.) Christophe rode an inspired race; nothing could stop his now. Nothing, that is, until another broken fork two days from Paris. Once again there was the walk to the forge and the catastrophic drop in placings. It was the last time he would ever be a contender.
The little stone blacksmith shop where Christophe hammered his fork back into one piece is today a national historic site.

 

Fausto Coppi (1919-1960,Ita) -
Colle del Ghisallo
, Passo Pordoi , Passo della Bocchetta, Col de Larche, Capo Berta

Under Development

Monument on Pordoi placed on June 2nd 2000 by the community of the village Canazei.
Location:
Italia, Dolomites, between Arabba and Canazei
Monument on top, smaller plate: junction Sella/Pordoi

Besides the monuments on or nearby passes there are other Fausto Coppi monuments: in Ponte di Piave, Oderzo, Canazei, Nova Ligure (Coppi museum) and Turin (and others?)

Radsportnews: Denkmal für Fausto Coppi in Turin
03.12.01 (rsn) - In Turin wird es demnächst ein Denkmal für Radsportlegende Fausto Coppi geben, wie die italienische Agentur ANSA am Montag meldet.
Das Monument soll im kommenden Juni im Parco Hintergrund
Michelotti von Turin enthüllt werden. Die Skulptur, die der Künstler Giuseppe Tarantino vorab mit einer kleinen Bronzeplastik vorstellte, wird aus Steinen bestehen von den großen Alpenpässen, auf denen Fausto Coppi Triumphe feierte. Die zehn Meter hohe und sechs Meter breite Skulptur wird den Campionissimo in Siegerhaltung zeigen. Fausto Coppi, der 1960 im Alter von 40 Jahren an einer unzureichend behandelten Malaria verstarb, wird in Italien bis heute verehrt wie kaum ein anderer italienischer Sportler.

Unterdessen wurde der vor wenigen Tagen im Alter von 76 Jahren verstorbene Annibale Brasola, einst ein Gregario von Coppi, am Montag in Vigonovo (Venezien) beigesetzt. Bei der Trauerfeier waren zahlreiche prominente Persönlichkeiten anwesend. Neben ehemaligen Teamkollegen erwies dem Verstorbenen u.a. Giovanni Pinarello die letzte Ehre

Op 8 juni aanstaande wordt in Turijn een monument onthuld ter nagedachtenis aan de befaamde wielrenner Fausto Coppi. Het monument wordt “omringd” door een aantal stenen uit bergen waar Fausto Coppi furore maakte.
De gemeente Valkenburg aan de Geul is er trots met stenen van de Cauberg een bijdrage aan dit monument te mogen leveren!
De Cauberg heeft in de wielerwereld door de jaren heen een internationale reputatie opgebouwd. In 1938 werd voor het eerst een Wereldkampioenschap in Valkenburg verreden, met toen Marcel Kint (B) als winnaar.
Valkenburg is de enige gemeente ter wereld waar vier keer in de historie een wereldkampioenschap wielrennen op de weg gehouden werd. In 1948 won Briek Schotte (B), in 1979 Jan Raas (NL) en in 1998 Oscar Camenzind (CH). Al deze wielerkampioenen zijn via muurschilderingen en hun handtekening, vereeuwigd in de eregalerij van onze grot.
In het wereldkampioenschap van 1948 bereikt de rivaliteit tussen Fausto Coppi en Gino Bartali zijn hoogtepunt. Coppi en Bartali waren dat jaar de topfavorieten van de regenboogstrijd in Valkenburg.
De geschiedenis van dat wereldkampioenschap werd vooral bepaald door de tweestrijd tussen de twee Italiaanse kampioenen. De twee idolen van de Tifosi verdeelden hun land toen al in twee kampen. Hoewel Coppi in 1948 Milaan – San Remo won, kon hij het moeilijk verkroppen dat Bartali enkele maanden later de Tour de France op zijn naam schreef. Ondanks het feit dat ze in Valkenburg als ploegmakkers startten, vlogen ze elkaar tijdens de wedstrijd in de haren, omdat beiden elkaar niet uit het oog wilden verliezen.
De rivaliteit liep helemaal uit de hand. Op een bepaald moment hadden de twee kemphanen tien minuten achterstand op de kopgroep met Briek Schotte, Apo Lazaridès en Lucien Teisseire. Toen Coppi en zijn rivaal Bartali in kansloze positie verkeerden, kneep Fausto Coppi in de remmen en fietste naar zijn hotel terug. De laaiende Bartali kon niet anders doen. De internationale pers schreef schande over de uit de hand gelopen rivaliteit van de twee favorieten. De Italiaanse bond was onverbiddelijk en schorste de twee renners.
Valkenburg aan de Geul vindt het bijzonder dat bij het monument niet alleen de onvergetelijke triomfen van de “campionissimo” herdacht worden, maar dat ook via de mergelblokken van de Cauberg een ander historisch hoogtepunt (rivaliteit met Bartali) uitgebeeld wordt.
De mergelblokken worden maandag 4 maart bij mergelspecialiteitenbedrijf Fer Rouwet, aan de Fremme 19, te Margraten (achterzijde bedrijf Fonima) door Transportbedrijf Holten (uit Hoensbroek) om 13.00 uur opgehaald en op de plaats van bestemming in Turijn (Italië) worden afgeleverd.
Hiervoor is de pers uitgenodigd.
Op 8 juni 2002 zal de burgemeester van Valkenburg aan de Geul zijn bijdrage aan de onthulling verlenen.

Italians excavate French stone for Coppi

A group of Italians from Turino have excavated a one tonne block of stone from the famous Puy-de-Dôme in France to construct a monument to the Italian cycling legend Fausto Coppi. The monument will be one of several to be constructed from stone removed from climbs the Italian scaled in in his tour victories.

Cyclingnews:

Fausto Coppi monument in Turin
"Il campionissimo", Fausto Coppi, will have a monument erected in his honour in the city of Turin, which will be inaugurated on June 18, 2002. The statue will be made of bronze and will be 10 metres tall. Coppi is depicted raising his arms while the public applauds him.

Coppi was considered the greatest Italian cyclist of all time - he was the first man to win the Giro and the Tour in the same year (1949). He died under strange circumstances in Africa. In 1959 he visited what is now Burkina Faso to participate in a criterium in Ouagadougou. After the race, he went on a safari where it is believed that he was bitten by a mosquito. He contracted malaria, but doctors did not diagnose it in time and he died on January 2, 1960

The group of Italians plan to have the monuments erected on the climbs in time for the 40th anniversary of his death in 2000. In 1952 the Puy-de-Dôme was the scene of an epic stage of the tour de France where Coppi asserted his dominance over the tour. Present at the excavation was none other than rival from the '50s, Raphaël Geminiani, who finished fourth on the stage in 1952. Coppi was born in 1919 and died on January 2, 1960, after having contracted malaria.

---------------------
In 2000, the Town Council of Canazei engaged him to create a monument dedicated to Fausto Coppi at Pordoi. Created using 600 Ks. of clay and later cast in bronze, it took 16 months to complete a testament to the artistic capacity of this young maestro


junction Passo Pordoi / Passo Sella
(Seldenthuis)


Passo Pordoi (Seldenthuis)


Passo dello Stelvio

Madonna di Ghisallo
Courtesy of La Cima Tours

Col de Larche / Colle della Maddalena

Capo Berta: Coppi and Girardengo


Passo della Bocchetta

 


Ponte di Piave

Nova Ligure, before the Coppi museum


Oderzo

 

There are no more climbs at 14 or 18%, no more abrupt cols; no more calvary. All is easy. The journalists, the riders, must have exaggerated. The mountains? What a joke! [...] He climbs like artists paint water colours, without any extra apparent effort. How can this be? It is a mystery because, when all is said and done, Coppi has only two legs, two lungs, one heart, like you and I and all the other contestants of the Tour

- André Leducq

Cyclinghalloffame:

Born on September 15, 1919, the Campionissimo (“The Champion of Champions”) was a man who transcended sport. He was one of the champions during one of cycling’s great eras, the Post World War II years.
Italy, traumatized by war, looked to sports heroes for its victories after years of military defeat. Coppi’s battle with another great rider, Gino Bartali, was the stuff of legends. The two men battled through the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and numerous one-day classics in an epic struggle for athletic superiority and the hearts of Italy.
Even though he wasn’t able to compete for the majority of World War II, Coppi still won a total of seven Grand Tours. He shares the record of five victories in the Giro d’Italia with Alfredo Binda and Eddy Merckx.

He won the Tour de France twice, in 1949 and 1952, dominating the competition and easily winning the overall title and mountains jersey competitions.
Coppi won three out of five of cycling’s monuments for a total of nine victories in those races. This is third behind Eddy Merckx and Roger De Vlaeminck. Coppi also owns the record of five victories in the Tour of Lombardy.
His victories in the 1950 Paris-Roubaix and 1953 World Championship Road Race capped off a brilliant career that would have no doubt been brighter had his career not been interrupted by World War II.
One of Coppi’s greatest victories was in the 1946 Milan-San Remo race. Coppi attacked with nine other riders just 3 miles (5 km) into the 181 mile (292 km) race. On the climb up the Turchino, Coppi dropped the nine riders and went on to win by 14:00 over the second placed rider, and by 18:30 over Gino Bartali and the rest of the peleton.
In the 1949 Tour de France, Coppi and Bartali lined up on the same team. Coppi steam-rolled the field up the Izoard Pass then gave the stage victory to Bartali as a present for his 35th birthday. The two of them demolished the competition with Coppi finishing first and Bartali second at 10:55.

Coppi overcame emotional setbacks during his career. In 1951, he was overcome by grief at the death of his brother Serse (who tied for first in the 1949 Paris-Roubaix race) just five days before the start of the Tour de France. Fausto was in a state of mourning during the race. Despite his sorrow, he completed the race in tenth place.
Although Coppi was a great athlete, he was fragile physically. Coppi possessed a massive rib cage and an exceptional heart, but had a delicate skeleton which contrasted to his well-developed thighs.
His brittle bones were the result of malnutrition as a boy. He had over twenty serious bone fractures including collar bones, pelvis, femur and a displaced vertebrae. He also had a sensitive stomach and picked up numerous illnesses during his career.

Coppi won his first major victory in 1940 at the age of 20 and his last in 1954 at the age of 35. He continued to ride competitively, well past his prime. In the end, Coppi caught malaria on a hunting safari in Africa. The illness was mis-diagnosed by Italian doctors and he died on January 2, 1960 at the age of 40.

 

 

Henri Desgranges (1865-1940,Fra) - Col du Galibier, below top

Henri Desgrange can be considered as the Godfather of cyling. Before he founded the Tour he was a reasonable well cyclist especially on track. He established records on 50 and 100 km and on may 11th 1893 he became owner of the first Official World Hour record (35km and 325m).
Starting in a notary office as a clerc where they could't appreciate his riding on a bicycle in shorts he decided to work in the world of cycling. After some journalistic experiences (writing a book,'La Bicyclete' a magazine) he started the sport magazine l'Auto-Vélo together with his friend Victor Goddet. Desgrange as general editor with cycling as speciality. This was the beginning of a long battle with competitor Vélo, organisor of the races Paris-Brest-Paris and Bordeaux-Paris. L'Auto-Vélo launched the marathon race Marseille-Paris over more than 500 km and got great publicity in France. 101 riders defied the Mistral wind and icecold rain showers and were given a great welcome by many people in Paris. Vélo, not so happy with all this, started a trial against l'Auto-Vélo to skip the name Vélo and won. Continuing as L'Auto, Desgrange and his people meditated on revenge and he developed the idea of Georges Lefèvre to organise something completely new: a round of France in more stages.
On Januari 1903 L'Auto anounced to organise an exceptional race. This was easier said than done because the riders were not eager to compete in this monstrous race. By reducing the period from 5 to 3 weeks (2426km in 19 days!) and reducing the registration fee he could bring the number of riders from 15 to 60. The first Tour de France could start. The best riders of France were facing an unknown adventure (the first stage was 467km from Parijs to Lyon!). 21 riders finished in Parc des Princes in Paris with Maurice Garin as winner. In the next years Desgrange had to overcome a lot of troubles but each year he improved the organisation and the Tour became more and more popular in France and outside. In 1905 he introduced points classification and the first mountain, the Ballon d'Alsace, in 1910 the Pyrenees in the route, in 1919 national teams and the first Maillot Jeune (Yellow Jersey) with the initials H.D.,in 1930 the first commercial parade of cars and in 1933 the King of the Mountains classification. The Tour of 1936 is Desgrange's last one. Due to a major operation he had to quit and in 1947 after Worldwar II Jacques Goddet became the new Tour director. Desgrange dies in 1940 in Beauvallon at the Cote d'Azur after a chronic disease.
The Tour de France is nowadays one of the biggest sport events in the World. In 19.. the monument for Desgrange just near the old tunnel of the Galibier was reveiled. In 2003 the monument has been renovated.

 

Wim van Est (1923-2003,Holland) - Col d'Aubisque, W route

Before the Dutchman Wim Van Est began his professional carreer for 16 years, he used his bike for smuggling tobacco during Worldwar II. He completed the Tour de France nine times (won 3 stages,8th place in 1957) and won the tour of Flandres and 3 times Paris-Bordeaux. Van Est was a working-class man: rough, straightforward, a hard worker and full of stories. Given many nicknames he called himself a 'Convict of the Road'.
When Van Est first entered the Tour de France in 1951, he had never really seen a proper mountain. On july 17th 1951 there was the stage from Dax to Tarbes. On that moment he was the first Dutchman wearing the yellow jersey. He could follow the leaders on the Tourmalet and hung on as they climbed the Aubisque. Just as he reached the summit of the climb, he punctured and lost three minutes on the leaders as he got a wheel change. In the descend of the Col d'Aubisque he lost contact with the leader group and had to take risks. After going a couple of times in a skid he hit a small wall and flew into the ravine.
Luckily the Belgian rider Roger Decock saw van Est falling and could arrange help. Behind Wim, the team cars stopped and there was major panic because he was lieing 70 m deep down. When his team manager Pellenaars got out he saw Van Est climbing his way slowly back up the mountain using a chain of tyres. Although he only had brushes and grazes, he was put in an ambulance as his manager fought with photographers who wanted to capture the drama. Yet Van Est got back out of the ambulance and went looking for his bike, but his manager convinced him to go to hospital to be checked out, where doctors found there was nothing wrong. The following day, the manager withdrew the team, a move which some thought made the team as heroes when they went back to Holland.
Just before the Tour the Dutch team were given Pontiac watches as a gift and some time after the Tour Wim could profit from his accident with the slogan (translated from Dutch):

Wim van Est made a 200-feet fall, his heart stopped, but his Pontiac not at all !

In 2001 he revealed a plaquette on the place of the accident together with old riders like Roger Decock. He died may 1st 2003.

 

 

Jacques Goddet (1905-2000,Fra) - Col de Tourmalet

Jacques Goddet is the great successor of Henri Desgrange, the Tour founder.
Starting his carreer at the magazine L'Auto from young reporter, general editor to manager he could learn the trade of Tour director from Desgrange. In 1932 he assited the Olympic Games in Los Angeles and from 1936 to 1939 he directed the Tour under the influence of Desgrange, who died in 1940. During World War II the German occupying forces tried to persuade Goddet to hold the race but he refused. In 1946 he founded L'Equipe which has grown out to the most important sport newspaper in France with the yellow pages. For years this newspaper has been close connected to the Tour (Like the Gazette della sport and the Giro d'Italia).
In 1947 the Tour continued. This were the golden years with great battles between mainly French, Italian and oter European riders. Lots of people watched the Tour or listened to the radio. He did his job with great paternal authority, showing lots of energy and discipline, watched everything down to the smallest detail and left nothing to chance, always in his typical outfit: colonial helmet and kaki shirt and shorts. 1987 was his last Tour as race director, but in the years after he was still present in the Tour, 53 (ES:checken!) in total.
What's the Galibier (monument Desgrange) for the Alps is the Col de Tourmalet for the Pyrenees, beiing the first mountain higher than 2000m in the Tour (1910). Since then it has been more than 70 times in a Tour stage. On 28-6-2001 a monument for Goddet, knighted 'chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur' by French President Jacques Chirac, has been unveiled together with Tour de France manager Jean-Marie Blanc and the widow of Goddet. From 2001 a race called 'le Souvenir Jacques Goddet' is organised.

 

Hugo Koblet (1925-1964) - Passo di Monte Ceneri

Hugo Koblet can be considered as the most succesfull Swiss rider ever. Starting his professional carreer in 1946, he first made name as a pursuiter (he was Swiss champion from 1947 to 1954).
Together with his fellow-Swiss Ferdi(nand) Kübler they broke the supremacy of the French and Italian riders. In contrast with Kübler (known as the “pedalling madman” or the "the eagle of Adliswil"), with the large nose and the grimaced face when making a big effort , handsome Hugo Koblet (known as the "Pédaleur de Charme" and “James Dean of cycling) was tall, beautiful, with undulating fair hair, clear eyes, and always with grace on his bike. His good looks and grace transformed many European women into cycling fans.
But first of all he was incredibly gifted. He won the Giro in 1950 as first foreigner (2nd in 1953 and 1954) and the Tour of Switzerland (1950, 1953, 1955). He was an important rival of Fausto Coppi. He beated him in the Grand Prix des Nations of 1951, in that time the unofficial world championship of time trial. In the Giro of 1953 he competed until the end (10 days the pink jersey) with a sublime Coppi. In de Tour of 1951 they were competitors, but Coppi had just buried his brother Serse.
Stage 11 is considered by many to be one of the greatest days in the history of cycling. In this transitional stage from Brive to Agen Koblet escapes the peleton after 37 km in hot conditions. The peleton doesn’t take this very serious and the gap rises until 4 min. But then all the great riders Coppi, Bartali, Bobet, Robic, Ockers, Magni, Geminiani join the chase and with still 70 km to go the gap is still 3 min. In the last kilometers, Koblet, showing no stress, takes a sponge and wipes his face and combs his hair as a psychological weapon before crossing the finishing line. 2m35s Later the rest of the peloton follows, exhausted and astonished by Koblet’s great escape.
In stage 14, in the Pyrenees, he punctures on the Tourmalet, but in a great chase back with the Aspin and Peyresourde passes, he catches Coppi and wins the sprint. Stage 17 showed the Mont Ventoux for the 1st time. Halfway up the mountain Géminiani, Bobet, Bartali and Lucies Lazaridès, who became the first rider to cross the summit, were left at the front. Coppi and Magni were already 5 minutes in arrears, while Koblet had suffered a derailleur problem and was limiting his losses in high gear.On the descent, Koblet caught up with the leading group but Bobet attacked early and won the stage.
Koblet won the Tour (and 5 stages) by 22 minutes from Raphaël Géminiani, but never reached such heady heights again. Raphaël Geminiani joked: "Chasing after these white crosses (the Swiss National Jersey), you could end up finishing at the Red Cross!" and “Actually I won,I was the first human to get to Paris!”.
Koblet had made fame and fortune by making good sponsor deals. His flamboyant lifestyle was hugely expensive and made him lazy: he would arrive at the races with a Studebaker, while Ferdi (Kübler) would arrive by train, 3rd class. Unlike the true greats, he could not remain focused on racing: pretty woman (always waiting at the finish line), spending money, meetings, sponsors obligations and interviews were given more priority.
A crash on the descent of the Aubisque in the Tour de France in 1953 caused Koblet more health problems and from then on his career went into a slow decline. Fascinated by South and Central America accepted an offer to ride in the Tour of Mexico and in 1957 he raced track with Coppi in Columbia. In the end of 1958 he ended his cycling carreer and moved for 3 years to Venezuela (Argentina?) searching his fortune. Homesick he returned to Europe but found it difficult to settle. His wife and great love, the model Sonja Bühl, had divorced him and the good looks where starting to fade.
On november the 2nd 1964, he was involved in a mysterious car accident: despite ideal weather and a good road he crashed with his Alfa Romeo against a tree. On the 6th, he died in the hospital, badly wounded and crippled. The impression of suicide could never be refuted (disproved?).
Passo Monte Ceneri (554m) in the south of Switzerland (Tessin), is the last obstacle before Locarno and Italy when coming from the north. On this pass is a memorial stone dedicated to Koblet and also a small chappel for cyclists ‘Santuario del Ciclista’

 

Eddy Merckx (1945-now,Bel) - Stockeu

Eddy Merckx is without doubt the greatest rider ever. Between 1961 and 1978 he won 525 races out of about 1800. For his enormous willpower and his insatiable appetite for winning (victory) Merckx was given the nickname "The Cannibal".
In 1969, his first Tour, he broke all the rules about conservation of energy. The summit of his extravagance came in the Pyrenees. Already ahead by an extraordinary eight minutes (forever, by modern standards), he romped away to double his lead in just one stage. In Paris he had an 18-minute lead over his closest pursuer and won beside the yellow jersey also the polka-dot
(king of the mountain) jersey and the green jersey which, at the time, represented the points winner.
After years of supremacy the Tour of 1975, his 6th, was his turning point. In the Pyrenees, Merckx was unable to keep up with the climbing specialists and had sub-par performances in the time-trial races. Finally, in the Alps, in the stage from Nice to Pra-Loup he fully blocks 3.5km before the top and is passed by Bernard Thévenet, the future winner. The second place in Paris was 'beneden zijn stand.' 3 years later at the age of 33 he rides his last race.
His most outstanding victories:
- Rounds: 5x Tour, 5x Giro d'Italy,1x Vuelta, 1x Tour of Switzerland
- Classics: 7x Milan-San Remo, 5x Liège-Bastogne-Liège, 3x Paris-Roubaix
- Other: 3x World Championship, 1x World Hour Record
The Stockeu is one of the steepest climbs in the classic Liege-Bastogen-Liege.

 

Jan Nolten (1930-now,Holland) - Puy de Dôme

Jan Nolten was one of the Dutch riders in the Tour of 1952, his first. He proved to be a climber with a 8th place in the stage to Alpe d'Huez, a novity of the Tour, won by Coppi.
On July 17th was stage 21 from Limoges-Puy de Dôme. Raphaël Geminiani the Frenchman who lives in Clermont-Ferrand, at the foot of the Puy de Dome, very much liked to win this stage. But also Gino Bartali, who may win from his teamleader Fausto Coppi, want's the same. It's more than 30 degrees and after a slow start Geminiani starts the attack on the Puy de Dome. A few moments later a leading group has been formed with the Italian Marinelli, the Frenchman Gilbert Bauvin, Bartali and Jan Nolten. Jan Nolten speeds up and no one can follow: first Marinelli and Bauvin are shaken off, 4 km before the top Geminiani and 2 km further also Bartali. From behind the Italians Coppi (yellow jersey) and Carrea and the Frenchmen Robic and Gelabert are on their way to the leaders. Nolten is sure he will win but then suddenly a shadow of a wheel from behind appears. It's Coppi and 100m before the finish he passes Nolten.
Never in history a Dutchman had made such impression in the mountains. The next day Coppi apologized to Nolton for winning the stage by following the instructions the teammanager gave him who couldn't face such a humiliation. Coppi called him a promise for the future. The 2nd place was a great publicity for Nolten: he became a legend in Holland and Italy and received nice offers. He ended the Tour with a 15th place.
Because of a serious car accident he had to finish his carreer in 19..

Marco Pantani (1970-2004,Ita) - Les Deux Alpes

Marco Pantani can be considered as the climber of the 90-ties. Pantani burst onto the international scene in 1992 as an amateur, winning the Baby Giro d'Italia and showcasing his climbing capabilities. In the following years he achieves impressive results in both the Giro and the Tour (1994: 2nd in the Giro + 2 stages, 3rd in the Tour; 1995: 13th in the Tour + 2 stages, bronze medal in the world championship). Pantani was virtually unmatchable in the high and steep mountains like the Passo di Mortirolo.
At a time when cycling was dominated by the machine-like dull Spanish figure of Miguel Indurain, Pantani was loved for his dynamic, attacking style and his radical look with a personalized bandana, shaved head and earring. For his fans he was "Il Pirata" (The Pirate), and other nicknames he acquired were 'Elefantino' (Dumbo), because of his prominent ears, Nosferatu, because of his cadaverous appearance, Diavaletto (little devil) after his master 'Il Diablo' (Chiapucci) and Pac-man, for the way he gobbled up opponents on the mountain climbs.
His cycling carreer was marked by many accidents. In 1993 he hurt his back after a fall in the Giro. In 1994 he overcame a crash to finish 3d in the Tour. In 1995 he was forced out of Giro after a training accident , but his worst crash was in Milan-Turin race (October 1995), where he was hit by a car and it took him 18 months of rehabilitation to recover from a badly broken leg. In 1997, his comeback, he was felled in the Giro by a black cat running out in front of him and abandoned, but 2 months later he achieved a 3rd place in the Tour.
1998 turned out to be his top year. He won the Giro and started in the Tour with Ullrich as the favorite. It was the Tour of the great Festina drug scandal. Cycling was having hard times and many people thought this was the end of professional cycling, however in the last week however Pantani has changed the face of the Tour. On monday July 27 Pantani rode a beautiful race from Grenoble to Les 2 Alpes. It was the ride up the 'Haute Category' Col du Galibier which made the 1998 Tour. As fast as Pantani went forward on the final climb, Jan Ullrich, last year winner, went backward and suffered. The mountains of the French Alpes have given the Mercatone Uno rider his second stage win this year, but more importantly he has taken over the leader's yellow jersey - and with a time deficit which was enough for the non-time trialler to win the Tour. He was the first Italian to win the Tour since Felice Gimondi's back in 1965 and the second Italian after Fausto Coppi to achieve the double of the Giro and the Tour.
1999 was the year of Pantani's fall from grace. Only two days from an apparent win at the Giro d'Italia, Pantani was kicked out of the race for a high haematocrit level (which in that days suggested the use of EPO). This began what would later become a series of allegations, suspensions, and sports fraud charges that would dog his career right up to the time of this death. It has been suggested that these events contributed to his mental state and reported depression.
Pantani continued to ride in the Giro and the Tour and while he was simply not at his earlier form, he still managed to win 2 stages of the 2000 Tour, of which the stage to the Mont Ventoux, matching the seemingly invincible Lance Armstrong, leaving the rest of the field way behind. On the final stretch, Armstrong allowed Pantani to pull away, giving him the stage victory, a gesture that Pantani resented, causing bad blood between the two riders.
In the Giro of 2001 insulin syringe is found in his hotel room. Pantani is found guilty of sporting fraud charge and given suspended prison sentence. The UCI bands him for 6 months Finally in 2003, after time away from the sport, Pantani appeared to be mounting a comeback with a respectable 14th place finished in the Giro. He was refused entry to the centenary Tour de France because the organisers did not consider him good enough, and in June he admitted himself into a clinic in northern Italy that specialises in depression and drug addiction.
On 14 February 2004, he died suddenly at a hotel in Rimini, Italy. In his room they found anti-depression drugs, but an autopsy revealed he died of a swollen brain and heart due to an overdose of cocaine. It's not known if it's was suicide.
Despite the drug allegations, Pantani remained popular with many fans and was one of Italy's most popular sportsmen. At his funeral about 20,000 people gathered inside and, mostly, outside the small church in this Adriatic town for the service. Amongst them many people from the cycling scene and other sports, the media, who have tracked the highs and lows of Pantani's career in infinite detail, were largely excluded from the funeral. During the service Pantani's friend and former manager Manuela Ronchi read out a note , found in his passport, in which the cyclist expressed his anger, frustration and sadness at the way he was treated by sporting and judicial authorities.
Pantani spent his final years convinced that cycling had permitted him to become the scapegoat for a sport in which, by the mid-90s, drug-taking was the rule and from which, inevitably, he received little support when he was exposed. "A lot of times, I'm convinced there is a car waiting round the next corner, and I will hit it," Pantani told me. "I'm quite mad by nature, and it's my craziness that has saved me from extinction." Like Coppi, Pantani's was an early, tragic death.
Besides cycling Pantani loved painting and poetry (See the poem on the right in where he describes his difficult situation).
Marco Pantani will be honoured by a monument in Cascate del Toce (where he placed his last attack in the Giro), a museum in Cesenatico (his place of birth) and from now on in each Giro d'Italia a certain climb will be renamed 'Montagna Pantani' (2004: Passo di Mortirolo). In June 2004 a monument was placed on the Colle della Fauniera in the presence of his parents. On 2 may 2006 another monument was revealed by former rider Gianni Bugno on the W side of the Passo del Mortirolo near Piaz de l'Acqua.


les Deux Alpes


Colle della Fauniera

 

René Pottier (1880-1907,Fra) - Ballon d'Alsace

In 1905 Henri Desgrange introduced the first mountain in the Tour de France: the Ballon d'Alsace. At least officially because in the Tour of 1903 and 1904 the Col de la République was already in the route. The Frenchman René Pottier arrived as number one on the top so he can be considered as the first King of the Mountains. This however had cost him so much energy that he had to give up next day.
Tthe Tour of 1906 consists of 13 stages with in total 4637 km. It was the first tour with a little part outside France (in Germany). Pottier had prepared himself very well and proofed that he was not a one-day fly. In the 2nd stage from Douai to Nancy (400km!) after 175km he fell behind because of a technical problem and at the same time the increasing of speed of his opponents Emile Georget together with Louis Trousselier, Dortignacq and Petit-Breton. In the next 200km Pottier, 58 min. behind, succeeded to catch up the first group. He even had the power to speed up and to win the stage a couple of minutes ahead of the group (with in total 5 flat tires!). The next day on the rough, muddy Ballon d'Alsace, Pottier shook off all his opponents and without putting his feet on the ground (which is very remarkable because of the mud and bicycles without gears) he reached the top and the finish 48 min. ahead. In stage 5 he also arrived as first on the other climbs Col Bayard and Côte de Laffrey, which gave him so much confidence that he decided to have a good rest in a cafe. He took a whole bottle of wine, continued the race when he saw the first followers and won the stage. He won 5 stages and the Tour arriving alone in Parc des Princes in Paris were he was given a big welcome.
In the following winter he found the woman of his life with another man and on Januar the 25th in 1907 he hang himself in a hangar of Peugeot at the age of 27. With next to his body his medals and other prizes. Because of this splendid performances on the Ballon d'Alsace a memorial stone was unvealed on the top in 1908. It says (translated)

In the Tour de France, a annual race of 5000 km, organised by l'Auto,
RENÉ POTTIER 1897-1907 arrived as first at this place in 1905-1906
where he maintained, in the climb of the Ballon d'Alsace, an average speed of 20 km/hr and crushed all his opponents.

 

Roger Rivière (1936-76,Fra) - Col du Perjuret

Roger Riviere was a great talent. He began his promising carreer on track and achieved results like 1st in World Pursuit Championship (1957-59) and the World Hour Record (1957,58)
In 1959, his first year on the road, he had nice results in the Tour de France (4th + 2 stages) and Vuelta a Espana (6th + 3 stages). He was a complete rider doing well as climber, sprinter and in time trials.
Because of the absence of the Jacques Anquetil in the Tour of 1960 he was the great hope of France. Gastone Nencini became the leader but Roger was a real threat for him doing better in time trials. On July 10th in stage 14 from Millau to Avignon he disappeared in a ravine in the descent of Col de Perjuret towards the Gorges du Tarn. He was heavily injured on his back and stayed paralysed in his ligs because of a double fracture in his spine.
He started a long rehabilitation but should never came back on his bike. Cycling France had lost one of his most promising riders.

 

Tommy Simpson (1937-1967,GBR) - Mont Ventoux

The story of Tommy Simpson is probably the most told one in cycling. Tom Simpson was the greatest British cyclist of his age. He was the first to wear the yellow jersey in the 1962 Tour de France and the first Briton to win the World Championship Road Race (1965).
On Friday July 13 1967 there was the stage from Marseille (>40 deg) to the Carpentras. On the Mont Ventoux Tom had to catch the lead group after a tortuous stage held in caldron-like temperatures. He collapsed on the barren slopes just 1.5km before the top.
"Put me back on my bike," he gasped. A few yards further, he fell again. He appeared to be suffering from sunstroke but his situation was actually far more serious. Dr Dumas, the official Tour Doctor, was quickly on the scene and administered oxygen and artificial resuscitation. A helicopter carried the comatose cyclist to the hospital in Avignon where he died at 5.40 PM. He died on that stage after consuming a cocktail of amphetamines designed to allow him to push his body through that extra effort. Unfortunately they may have ruined his ability to handle the heat and been responsible for his death.
Barry Hoban was 'allowed' to win the 14th stage, which was to be the first of his eight stage wins, and the team vowed to carry on the race. It was the saddest year in cycling history, but the Tour was to go on, and new chapters written by British riders. Years after Barry maried Tom's widow Helen.
The memorial of Tom Simpson, just 1.3 km to the summit, has been placed on 19... On July 13th 1997 Tommy's daughters Jane and Joanne, who succeeded cycling the Mt. Ventoux, placed a small plate on the memorial which says:

There is no mountain too high

 

René Vietto (1914-1988,Fra) - Col de Braus

René Vietto, a gifted French climber form the Cote d'Azur, has made his name in his first Tour de France in 1934. In 1930, Tour founder, Henri Desgrange, had changed the Tour from a competition between trade teams (as it is today) to one between national teams (like the world championships). He was sick of the intrigue and suspicious results. He even provided all riders with anonymous bikes painted in yellow. In 1934 Desgrange introduced a new rule: team mates were allowed to help each other in case of technical problems. France loved the change. They dominated these Tours of the early thirties.
The 1931 winner, Antonin Magne, looked set for a repeat in 1934. When he donned the maillot jaune after the first week of pounding across the pave of northern France, no one paid much attention to his new 20 year old teammate from Cannes, René Vietto. The little guy had already lost 40 minutes.Vietto reveals his exceptional climbing gifts in the Alps. He wins 3 stages (7, 9 and 11), mastering the terrible hills in a particular aerial style. The whole of France adopts "Roi René" (King René). Everyone, riders and fans, held their breath for the Pyrenees. In stage 15 from Perpignan to Ax-les-Thermes, in the descent of the Col de Puymorens Magne crashed, smashing a wheel (broken rim). No team car was in sight. Without a moment's hesitation René handed over his wheel (past niet, Speicher). For some minutes René sat on the stone parapet (little wall), tears trickling down his face.The next day Magne broke his chain on the descent of the Col de Porte. This time Vietto was actually slightly ahead, but heard Magne's shout. René was forced to ride back up the hill to once again sacrifices himself by giving his bike. Magne won the Tour, Vietto ended as King of the Mountains with a fifth place and as a moral winner he was allowed to join Magni in his lap of honour. The difference in time with Magne was however more than the time he had lost by his sacrifices.
He seems to have a good career ahead of him but he was never to be in the shape he was in that year, and the war cut his career short, which doesn't lessen the worth of his sacrifice. The Tour of 1947 was his last change: he won 2 stages, but he lost too much time in the time trials and showed another side of him by smashing riders in the face, who wants to escape from the group.
In 1988 he died. His grave lies on the Col de Braus not far from Cannes. The monument has been placed with the help of clubs of former riders and cyclists in France.

 

 

Other monuments

On the highway between Tarbes and Pau at a resting place called l’Aire des Pyrénées you can find this very special monument about the Tour de France named 'Le Tour de France dans les Pyrénées'.
This 18m high monument, made of alumina and steel, was realized in 1995.

 

On the Italian pass Croce d'Aune (Veneto region in the North) there is a monument for the Italian who invented the quick release for bicycles but most cyclists will know him by the gear systems and other rotating parts: Tullio Campagnolo

 

Musea

Name Location
Remarks
To See  
Museo dei Campionissimi
3000 square meters of emotions devoted to bike and cycling
Italy, Novi Ligure
Open since 30 april 2003
   
Amici del Museo del Ciclismo Gino Bartali 
   
Musée Louison Bobet
Créé en juin 1994 par l'association des amis de Louison Bobet
France, Saint Méen le Grand
5, rue de Gaël - 02 99 09 67 86
   
Museo Fausto Coppi
Association of Faustus and Serse Goblets
Italy, Castellania (Alessandrie)
   

Charly Gaul
'Runned' by a German fan

Germany, Kaiserslautern    
Museo del Ghisallo Italy, Santuario Madonna del Ghisallo
Via Garibaldi, 22030 Magreglio (CO)
   
la Maison du Tour de France France, Col d'Izoard.    

Museo del Ciclismo "Alfredo Binda"
località Vararo
21033 Cittiglio (VA)
Responsabile: Paolo Costa
Tel. 0332-601467
Fax 0332-601141

Museo del Ciclismo
"I campionissimi C. Girandengo e F. Coppi"
c/o Comune di Novi Ligure
Via Giacometti, 22
15067 Novi Ligure (AL)
Responsabile: Romano Cabella
Tel. 0143-7721
Fax 0143-772200

Museo storico della Bicicletta
"Toni Bevilacqua"
Piazza Commercio, 15
32039 Cesiomaggiore (BL)
Responsabile: Sergio Sanvido
Tel. 0439-438284
Fax 0439-43009

Museo della Bicicletta "Tino Sana"
Fondazione Sana
Via Roncelli, 1
24030 Almenno San Bartolomeo (BG)
Responsabile: Costantino Sana
Tel. 035-540035
Fax 035-540820

Museo del Ciclismo "Colle Gallo"
Santuario del Colle Gallo
24060 Gaverina Terme (BG)
Responsabile: Alessandro Mazzoleni
Tel. 035-248880
Fax 035-812678

Museo della Bicicletta
"Giannetto Cimurri"
Via Porta Brennone, 17
42100 Reggio Emilia
Responsabile: Giannetto Cimurri
Tel. 0522-454828/438692
Fax 0522-430880

 

Links

 


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