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Rapha Cycle Club LDN is currently running an exhibition celebrating the centenary of the Col du Tourmalet.
On 21st July 1910, Stage 10 of the Tour travelled over the Col du Tourmalet for the first time. It was Alphonse Steinès, wingman to Tour founder Henri Desgrange, who first suggested the race send riders over the Giant of the Pyrenees. As well as bikes from circa 1910 the exhibition contains the notebooks of Alphonse Steinès.
In early 1910, Steinès had undertaken a reconnaissance of the mountain. Having stopped his car four kilometres from the summit, he continued on foot. Rumour has it he retuned to Barèges on the western side of the Tourmalet with hypothermia, having escaped the clutches of a bear, to send a telegram from the gendarme station to Desgrange in Paris, which read:
PASSE TOURMALET. STOP. TRES BONNE ROUTE. STOP. PARFAITEMENT PASSABLE. STOP. SIGNE: Steinès.
This "Perfectly Acceptable" mountain would then go on to feature more times than any other climb in the history of the Grand Boucle.
We have also just launched the Tourmalet Jersey, a commemorative piece that nods towards Steinès, the "father of the mountains", and Octave "Curly" Lapize, the victor of that infamous stage over the Tourmalet and overall winner of the 1910 Tour.
In honour of Lapize, Steinès and the Col du Tourmalet, Rapha organised the 1910 Challenge ride - a 326km journey taking in the Aubisque, Peyresourde, Soulor and, of course, the Tourmalet. Four intrepid/mad riders relived the route of stage 10 of the Tour from 100 years ago. The exhibition also shows a short film recounting this monstrous tribute ride.
You can read more about the 1910 Challenge here »
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