Mont Ventoux

It was Thursday, July 13, 2000 in the afternoon, and Marco Pantani glanced around furiously. Il Elefantino, Het Olifantje, was the first to have crossed the line on top of Mont Ventoux, but he was far from happy. In fact, the Italian climber with his bald head and floppy ears could kill someone. Lance Armstrong to be precise. In the twelfth stage of the 87 th Tour de France was Pantani jumped away on the slopes of the mythical mountain. It looked impressive as yellow jersey wearer Armstrong drove to him a few moments later and took the lead. Armstrong was much stronger and sometimes seemed to wait if Pantani couldn't keep his rear wheel. It was surprising that Armstrong did not win. As a tribute to Pantani's return to the bike after a period full of misery, the Texan clearly left the victory to the race climber, something that Armstrong later admitted. A greater humiliation was unthinkable for Marco Pantani. A champion like him did not give you any gifts, certainly not in a queen stage, and certainly not on top of the Mountain of Mountains.

The Col du Tourmalet is higher, Alpe d'Huez steeper, the Col de la Madeleine longer, but none of those mountains have the attraction of Mont Ventoux, which stands majestically above the flat landscape of the Vaucluse department in Provence. It is the peculiar lunar landscape at the top, the insidiously fast changing weather conditions, and its frightening past full of fear, suffering and tragedy and for some individuals heroic and triumph. And death. Whoever says Mont Ventoux says Tommy Simpson, the British who lost his life in the Tour of France of 1967 on the way up. But even in the climbs before and after that fatal day it made little difference if riders had not survived the ride to the top at 1912 meters. In the murderous heat during a Tour stage in 1955, Ferdi Kübler rode way too fast. A co-pilot warned him: "The Ventoux is no mountain like everyone else." The Swiss Tour winner of 1950 did not listen, drove himself over and was so exhausted that he collapsed and cycled towards the peloton after getting up. He drove no more dent in a packet of butter after that trip on the Mont Ventoux. Jean Malléjac never cycled again after that same climb. He fell unconscious from the bicycle and was barely saved by the Tourarts. The great Eddy Merckx also had to be ventilated for an hour in an ambulance after his victory in 1970.

Michael Boogerd called Mont Ventoux a scary thing. "You feel insignificant. As if you come on the moon. The limestone and the Observatoire, the characteristic white tower with the cylinder on the roof, give the landscape a grim character. ' The weather on 'the sugar loaf', as the bare mountain with the white of the snow and the limestone on top is called, can be grim and capricious. When Boogerd climbed Mont Ventoux (freely translated: 'windy mountain') during the Tour de France in 2000 it was at the foot 35 degrees, only 3 at the top. He also knows the stories of canceled races due to a sudden rising wind. where riders had to lie flat on the ground with their material in order not to lose it. "You never know up there."

'Up there' is above the tree line where the wind has free rein. If the climber is unlucky to encounter rough weather, the toughest part of the climb starts there, the last 6 kilometers with an 8.5% rise. But on normal days, the swearing is the hardest after the sharp turn at the village of Saint-Estève, during the 10 kilometers through the forest, once described as "a small green hell with a black strip of asphalt." Experience expert and writer Tim Krabbé still doesn't know how to find the rhythm in the suffocating and stuffy forest, but he still managed to get up.


Sports nutrition information

Where can you eat well during the ascent of Mont Ventoux (from Bedoin)?

  • In the first 2.5 kilometers of the climb.
  • Try to eat as good as you can during the following kilometers. You are constantly on a 10% slope
  • At chalet Renard. You arrive here at a parking place that is almost completely flat.
TIP: Halfway between Chalet Renard and the top is a water point.
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