300km, 6000m across the Pyrenees from Bagneres du Luchon to Bayonne. Follow in the footsteps of some legends with our weekend of cycling, it's our Tour des Criminels...
It was the 10th edition of the Tour de France and the organisers, driven by the sales of their own newspaper, want to spice things up a little. After much internal debate, the director of the Tour, Henri Desgrange, decided to include mountain passes of the Pyrenees for the first time.
The Col de Peyresourde, Col d’Aspin, Col du Tourmalet, Col du Soulor and Col d’Aubisque.
These roads have now become iconic but back in the day, they were nothing but a strip of rubble. Often covered in snow. They were thought to be impassable by bike. This would sure sell the papers. There was much hype created. Riders were dropping out like flys, one of the main reasons sited were the fear of bear attacks on these wild slopes.
It was on the Col d'Ausbique where the organisers thought that maybe their challenge was a bit much. Nobody showed up. Was it those bears? Finally though Francois Lafourcade, the local rider crested the Col, followed shortly by Octave Lapize who went on to take the stage. The specialist climber had to push his bike over the muddy, rough terrain and could be heard shouting "assassins" at the organisation. Murderers, criminals - he was not happy and threatened to withdraw in protest. However, having realised that he had conquered the mountains and stood the chance of winning, he carried onto the finish.
So a mere 5 cols, with nearly 6000m of vertical climbing, over 300 km of untracked roads. In one day and on old bikes. These athletes were of a different time. But from these rises our Tour des Criminels. Still a challenge but one with some comfort and rest. We will look to complete this challenge in a more human 3 days. Having ridden all cols over the last few years, we can tell you that you are in for a treat.
Note that this is computer generated so elevations may not be exact