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Col de l'Alpe d'Huez

Better promotion for the blooming winter sports around the village of Alpe d'Huez was hardly conceivable: just there would end a stage uphill for the first time in the history of the Tour de France. The idea came from Jean Barbaglia, an area painter and cyclist. In the early 1950s he enthusiasized the tour organization and the local middle class - after all, the event would lure hundreds of tourists to the hotels and restaurants of the ski village. Until 1952, mountain stats were always finished in the larger places in the lowering, where there was enough accommodation to catch the ever-growing cyclist caravan.

Now there was a finish uphill whose organization hoped that it would take care of new spectacle and drama. It wasn't exciting that first time. On the mud, but smooth road surface - a whole improvement compared to the life-threatening, with loose stones covered climbs of the years before - was not to keep the loving Fausto Coppi. In just over 45 minutes he was upstairs, spacious faster than the French climber Jean Robic. At eighth place, with four minutes behind, Jan Nolten was the best Dutchman.

The other two arrivals Bergoop were also a prey for Fausto Coppi in that tour, which reached Paris with a lead of almost half an hour. Possibly shocked by the major differences that a stage with the finish could cause a toll, the Touraaravan Alpe d'Huez 24 (!) Don't handle.

When the peloton returned to the mountain in 1976, much changed. The road was asphalted - during the 1968 Olympic Games the Bobsleighs on Alpe d'Huez took place - the village had become a modern center for mass tourism and the 21 hairpin bends that were numbered between Bourg d'Oisans and the line in the ski village. Later in the curves the names would also come from the winners on Alpe d'Huez, starting with Coppi in the first from the foot, number 21.

That he would give his name to bend 20 dared Joop Zoetemelk on the morning of July 4, 1976. Due to an abscess on his butt, the later tour winner could hardly be on the saddle. And when he later that day at Alpe d'Huez was only ahead with Lucien Van Impe, perhaps the best climber of the peloton, he did not believe in a victory. Yet the smart sweet milk won to be surprised in the last bend to the left of Impe inner ear and to turn on the line twice in the last 200 meters.

Joop's victory was a special era for the Dutch cycling in which lasted until the end of the 1980s. Of the twelve times that the tourpelloton finished in that period at Alpe d'Huez, a Dutchman won seven times: twice Hennie Kuiper, again sweet milk, twice peter winning, Steven's smokes and Gert-Jan Theunisse.

Of the eight victories on the 'Dutch mountain', the first of Peter Winen was perhaps the most beautiful. Winning, a unemployed teacher from 23 from Limburg, decided to vent over 6 kilometers from the finish in an impulsive moment. He demarrated Cheeky Road from the company Robert Alban, the bucket of the beads jersey Lucien van Impe and Klassements leader Bernard Hinault. It was juvenile recklessness, because there had been almost 230 kilometers in it and it was a long way with a hard, cold wind on the turtleneck, but the ruddy debutant showed character and stopped over eight seconds on the line. The next day was the heaviest out of his career, because he could barely get the trappers from fatigue, but if Broekie had won nicely on the most beautiful Col in France.

The victory of Gert-Jan Theunisse was also impressive. He had ridden 130 kilometers furiously in the Queen's ride (Galibier, Telegraphe, Croix de Fer and Alpe d'Huez, of which 60 solo, because his teammates didn't want to drive Sean Kelly and Raúl Alcalá for him. Theunisse was still angry on the line.

Since that victory in 1989, the Netherlands (8 victories) is dry and threatens Italy (7 victories) to take over the rule on the Col, but every time Alpe d'Huez is done in the Tour an army Dutchmen the mountain orange colors . Especially around bend 7 at the church of Huez it is carnival in the Alps. It is a great time to cycle up the almost 14 kilometers out (I know from your own experience) and also on the day of Alpe d'Huzes, but on every random day the climb of this mountain offers magic. There is the shock of the first 2 kilometers, the steepest part of the climb with an average of more than 10% increase. The hard observation that you already have to stage the lightest acceleration at the first bend. The surprise after the bend two that you have climbed so high and the view is so wide. That you have found your cadence unnoticed and seems to recover from the first efforts. Cowbells, birds, huge, a moss-green alpine whey and a stream: your senses work again. Relief, recklessness and raw reality when the road suddenly rises steeply. Are that already the wooden chalets? On the pedals. There are two riders tough down. Life is not fair. Bend 3 Pantani, bend 2 Pantani, bend 1 Giuseppe Guerini. Who? Hung a canvas with 'finish'? Almost eleven hundred meters climbed. Never again. Stop the clocks. Step off. Drink. What a climb. Your climb.

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