Mont Ventoux

Crazy about Ventoux

In 1988 the Cinglés du Mont-Ventoux (Crazy about Ventoux) brotherhood was created in the aim of proving that any cyclist with normal practice could climb the Giant of Provence three times in one day by the three main roads to the top. A quarter of a century later, the Cinglés are nearly 1,000 and have made it up the top three times until the age of 80.

Up to 1988, thousands of cyclists had climbed the Ventoux by one of the three main roads (Bedoin, Malaucene and Salt) and all were proud to add this ascent, seen as the hardest in Europe, to their personal record. In 26 kilometres, the vertical drop is 1,600 metres. The challenge launched in 1988 was to climb the Ventoux three times by the three main roads on the same day. The rider succeeding was immediately made a member of the brotherhood. Since 1998, an option allows the most dedicated Cinglés to become Galley Slaves should they complete a fourth ascent by the forest road starting in Bedoin. The brotherhood founder Christian Pic was the first cyclist to complete both courses.

In 2007 a new course dubbed Bicinglette allows the bravest to double the Cinglé course and to ride up the Ventoux six times in the same day.

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Logo of Club des Cinglés du Mont Ventoux - ©Club des Cinglés du Mont Ventoux
8 previous stages
Summit (1,912 m) of Vaucluse (84)
Specialities: Ventoux wines.
Economy: tourism, wines, ski resort.  
Sport: cycling, skiing at Mont Serein, hiking.
Celebrities: Petrarch, Tom Simpson. 

Mont Ventoux and cycling

Every year, cyclists, starting with Bradley Wiggins who made him his idol, have a thought for Tom Simpson, who died on the slopes of the Ventoux 46 years ago. Appearing on the Tour course in 1951, the Giant of Provence was first the finish of a stage in 1958 for a time trial that helped Charly Gaul largely build his final Tour victory.

The first bunch stage to finish at the top was won by Raymond Poulidor in 1965 but it was not enough for the Frenchman to oust Felice Gimondi from the overall lead. The last visit to the Ventoux in 2009 was also marked by an exceptional crowd lining the roads of a stage won by Juan Manuel Garate.

In the meantime, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Thevenet or Jean-Francois Bernard, in a fantastic time trial in 1987, had beaten the myth, like two exceptional climbers, Marco Pantani and Richard Virenque.

Edvald Boasson Hagen wins the Givors/La Clayette stage in the 2012 Dauphine - ©Presse Sports/Mons
8 previous stages
Summit (1,912 m) of Vaucluse (84)
Specialities: Ventoux wines.
Economy: tourism, wines, ski resort.  
Sport: cycling, skiing at Mont Serein, hiking.
Celebrities: Petrarch, Tom Simpson. 

Web sites

Petrarch on top of the Ventoux

Italian poet Petrarch, then living in Avignon, attempted on April 26, 1336, to walk up Mont-Ventoux. He told the tale of his trip to a monk friend in a letter. His lesson to Tour de France riders was simple: never forget that the real altitude is inside of you.

"I today made an ascent to the top of the highest mountain in this country known rightly as Ventoux, guided by the simple desire to see the extraordinary altitude of the site.

(…) On the given day, we left the house and arrived in the evening at Malaucene, at the foot of the mountain from the North. We stayed there for one day and today we climbed the mountain we our two servants, with great difficulty for the mountain is an almost inaccessible steep mass of rock. Yet the poet said rightly: hard work wins over anything. A long day, fresh air, vigorous souls and robust bodies, everything favoured our attempt. Only the nature of the site was an obstacle. In the gorges of the mountain we found an old shepherd who tried with plenty of speech to convince us not to go. He told us that 50 years earlier, moved by the same youthful ardour, he had walked up to the summit but had only earned regrets and weariness out of the attempt, his body and clothes torn by stones and bushes. He added that he had not heard of anybody else attempting the same ascent before or after.

(…) From the top, you cannot see the summits of the Pyrenees, the border of France and Spain, not because of any obstacle that I know of but because of the weakness of human sight. We could clearly see to the right the mountains of the Lyon province and to the left the sea of Marseille and Aigues-Mortes, only a few days walk away. The Rhone was just under our eyes. As I was admiring all this, with earthly tastes or elevating my soul as I had my body, I read the Confessions of St Augustine

(…)  I swear to God and to the ones present that as soon as I looked at the book, I read: men go to see the top of mountains, the waves in the sea, the large flood of rivers, the course of the ocean and the revolution of stars but they do not look at themselves

(…) So judging I had seen enough of the mountain, I looked inside of me and from then on nobody heard a word from me before we reached the bottom."

8 previous stages
Summit (1,912 m) of Vaucluse (84)
Specialities: Ventoux wines.
Economy: tourism, wines, ski resort.  
Sport: cycling, skiing at Mont Serein, hiking.
Celebrities: Petrarch, Tom Simpson. 

Web sites

Jersey wearers after the stage 21

Classifications after the stage 21

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