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T is for Tourmalet: The Pyrenean Mountain

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June 25, 2016 – For the letter T in our A-to-Z countdown to the 2016 Tour de France (#TDF2016) we’ve chosen the Col du TOURMALET, the foremost Pyrenean mountain pass that has been included on the Tour route more than 80 times.

#PelotonShorts by John Wilcockson/Photo by Yuzuru Sunada

This image from stage 16 of the 2010 Tour shows a daylong breakaway climbing the eastern side of the 2,115-meter (6,939-foot) Tourmalet—which was also the approach used 100 years earlier when Frenchman Octave Lapize struggled up the then-dirt road, pushing his heavy, single- gear bicycle.

About a dozen hardy spectators walked with Lapize for the last few meters to the summit on that inaugural. The 17-kilometer acent came midway through a artge of 326 kilometers that took stag winner (and eventual Tour winner) Lapize more than 14 hours to complete. A statue of Lapize riding his bicycle has been erected at the Tourmalet summit, along with (more recently) a bust of longtime Tour race director Jacque Goddet.

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