Mont Ventoux


The Giant of Provence is truly a mountain like no other, it is more than just a cycling climb and its history and mythical statue in Provence has impacted the region for centuries.  

Situated closer in kilometres to the Alps than the Pyrenees, but in nature nothing like either, Mont Ventoux is visible from 100 kilometres away in all directions and with its deforested peak has the elusion of being snow-capped throughout the year. The rugged, desert like appearance on the top of Mont Ventoux acts only to enhance the difficulty of riding this iconic climb as you enter from a sheltered forest to a harsh landscape with swirling winds and relentless heat.

Cyclists have been making the pilgrimage to Ventoux for decades, the first race to the summit of the Giant was in the 1935 Circuit du Mont Ventoux which started a long history of bike racing on the mountain with the Tour first riding up in 1951.

One mystery among many that have climbed Ventoux – is if not cycling’s greatest or hardest climb, surely its the most beguiling mountain.

The Climb in Detail



"Physically, the Ventoux is dreadful. Bald, it's the spirit of Dry: Its climate makes it a damned terrain, a testing place for heroes, something like a higher hell." - Roland Barthes, French philosopher and bicycle racing fan

 

The Ascents

Mont Ventoux can be ridden from 3 different start points, Malaucène to the Northwest, Sault to the East and the traditional and oldest ascent from Bedoin to the South. The climb from Bedoin is the chosen route of the Tour de France and is thought to be the toughest of the 3 roads. The ride from Sault combines with the route from Bedoin after Chalet Reynard where the lunar landscape of the summit starts. The Malaucène ascent is more sheltered from the swirling winds and heat but is the longest of the routes.

 

 

Tom Simpson

Remembered for his tragic and untimely death on July 13th 1967 on the ascent of Mont Ventoux, Tom Simpson blazed a trail for British riders during a brief but decorated career where he became an Olympic medallist, won 3 classic monuments and became World Champion in San Sebastián in 1965. With a potent mix of the gruelling days racing up Mont Ventoux, amphetamines and the heat of the mountain Simpson passed away just 1 km from the finish line, you can find a memorial to the British rider on the right as you climb from Chalet Reynard. 

It’s place at the Tour de France

The fans of the Tour de France hold a special place in their hearts for the Giant of Provence. After Charly Gaul rode to win an individual time trial from Bedoin to the summit in 1958 Mont Ventoux has been an important icon of the Tour. With the roll call of winners including Poulidor, Merckx, Thévenet, Pantani, Virenque and Froome you can see why most years the Tour de France includes Mont Ventoux it is usually classified as that year’s queen stage.

"In the Dauphiné, I almost puked my heart out through my mouth” – Alberto Contador 

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