A better promotion for the blossoming winter sports around the village of Alpe d'Huez was hardly conceivable: it was precisely there that a stage would end uphill for the first time in the history of the Tour de France. The idea came from Jean Barbaglia, a painter and cycling fan from the area. In the early 1950s, he enthusiastically enthusiastic the Tour organization and the local middle class - after all, the event would attract hundreds of tourists to the hotels and restaurants of the ski village. Until 1952, mountain stages had always finished in the larger places in the valleys, where there was sufficient accommodation to absorb the ever -growing cycling caravan.

Now there was a finish uphill that the organization hoped that it would provide new spectacle and drama. It didn't get exciting that first time. On the clay, but smooth road surface - a whole improvement compared to the life -threatening climbs -covered climbs of the years before - the in love Fausto Coppi could not be kept. In just over 45 minutes he was upstairs, more than faster than the French climber Jean Robic. Jan Nolten was the best Dutchman in eighth place, with four minutes behind.

The other two arrivals were also uphill in that tour for Fausto Coppi, who reached Paris with a lead of almost half an hour. Possibly shocked by the big differences that a stage with the finish on a turtleneck was the Tour caravan Alpe d'Huez 24 (!) Years not.

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

Joop Zoetemelk did not dare to think that he would give his name to bend 20 on the morning of July 4, 1976. Due to an abscess on his ass, the later Tour winner could hardly sit on the saddle. And when he was only ahead of Alpe d'Huez with Lucien Van Impe, perhaps the best climber of the peloton later that day, he did not yet believe in a victory. Nevertheless, the smart Zoetemelk won by surprising in the last corner to the left of Impe and turning on twice in the last 200 meters.

Joop's victory heralded a special era for Dutch cycling that lasted until the end of the 1980s. Of the twelve times that the Tourpeloton finished at Alpe d'Huez in that period, a Dutchman won seven more times: twice Hennie Kuiper, again Zoetemelk, twice Peter win, Steven Rooks and Gert-Jan Theunisse.

Of the eight victories in the 'Dutch Berg', the first of Peter Winning was perhaps the most beautiful. Winning, an unemployed teacher of 23 from Limburg, decided to venture up 6 kilometers from the finish in an impulsive moment. He brutally demarcated from the company Robert Alban, the wearer of the Bolletjestri Lucien van Impe and classification leader Bernard Hinault. It was youthful recklessness, because almost 230 kilometers had already been racing and it was a long way with a hard, cold wind on the turtleneck, but the reddish debutant showed character and had eight seconds left on the line. The next day was the toughest in his career, because he could barely get the pedals around fatigue, but as a Broekie he had won nicely on the most beautiful col in France.

The victory of Gert-Jan Theunisse was also impressive. He had driven 130 kilometers furious in the queen ride (Galibier, Telegraphe, Croix de Fer and Alpe d’Huez), of which 60 Solo, because his teammates did not 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) has been dry and italy (7 victories) is in danger of taking over the rule on the turtleneck, but every time Alpe d'Huez is done in the Tour, an army of Dutch people are the Mount Orange colors . Especially around the bend 7 at the church of Huez it is carnival in the Alps. It is a great moment to cycle up the almost 14 kilometers (I know from my 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 by an average of more than 10% rise. The hard observation that you have to kick the lightest gear at the first corner. The surprise after bend two that you have already climbed so high and the view is so wide. That you have found your cadence unnoticed and seems to recover from the first efforts. Coebels, birds, panting, a moss -green Alpine meadow and a stream: your senses work again. There is relief, recklessness and raw reality when the road suddenly rises steeply again. Are those all the wooden chalets? On the pedals. Two riders whistle down. Life is not fair. Bend 3 Pantani, bend 2 Pantani, bend 1 Giuseppe Guerini. Who? Hung a canvas with 'finish' there? Almost eleven hundred meters climbed. NEVER again. Stop the clocks. Step off. Drinks. What a climb. Your climb.

 

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