The Giro d'Italia and Tour de France recently announced their 2015 routes, and it struck me that both races would be visiting quite a few cycling monuments.
Now when I say monument, I mean statue, not the Classic races that are often called Monuments. Although the Museo del Ghisallo along the route of the last Monument of the season - Giro di Lombardia - has some great cycling statues.
Cyclists' memorial. pic.twitter.com/7lTFA0aq2v— Brian Cookson OBE (@BrianCooksonUCI) October 5, 2014
My plan here will be to take you on a whirlwind tour of cycling statues that will be passed by the Giro and Tour next year - as well as a few not in a GT next year but that are perhaps related. I make absolutely no claims to this being even a remotely complete list. And I encourage you in the comments to mention or post a photo or link to your favourite cycling monument, wherever it may be. Let's Get Started:
Pantani and More Pantani
The super-steep Mortirolo (stage 16) makes its Giro return in 2015. Cyclotourists like to hang their smelly bandanas at this statue on the 11th tornante (hairpin). Pantani was first over Mortirolo in 1994. Since his death in 2004, a "Cima Pantani" award has been given to the rider first over the Mortirolo.
Stage 20 of the Tour de France will also pass a Pantani monument three kilometres below the summit of Col du Galibier. Galibier featured in Pantani's famous stage victory at Les Deux Alpes en route to winning the '98 Tour de France. Video.
This Galibier stage will finish at Alpe d'Huez. Each of the 21 hairpins are named for a stage winner there. A monument of sorts, no? Hairpin number three is named for Pantani (1995).
My favourite Pantani monument is atop the high, beautiful, and remote Passo Fauniera in Piemonte.
The Cima Coppi
Colle delle Finestre will be the Cima Coppi (the highest point; 2176 metres) in next year's Giro. At the summit are two monuments to another doper. In 2005, Danilo di Luca flew up this incredibly difficult salita. Video. I am not certain if it is still there, but there used to also be a far prettier di Luca monument painted on a rock - see here.
On a less dopier note, just above the Colle is a fun "rock monument garden" paying tribute to the greatest Italian and French alpine cycling climbs. Galibier in forefront, Mortirolo behind:
Since we were talking Coppi ....while not in the 2015 Giro ... there is a great statue of the Italian legend atop Passo Pordoi:
As well as the easy to miss Coppi / Bobet plaques in the Casse Deserte below Col d'Izoard (2014 Tour).
The Tour Organisers
Let's head back to Galibier. On stage 20, just after passing the exit to the tunnel (1 km after crossing the summit), the Peloton will pass the huge monument to Henri Desgrange - the first organiser of the Tour de France.
On a similar note, stage 11 of the 2015 Tour will climb Col du Tourmalet, where we can find a small bust of Jacques Goddet - the second organiser of the Tour de France. Here is the bust of Goddet that includes a life size statue of me.
During the Tour, the Prix Desgranges is given to the first rider over the highest point in the Tour - usually in the Alps - Galibier in 2015. While the Prix Goddet is given to the first cyclist over the highest point in the Pyrenées - Tourmalet in 2015.
While we're discussing Tourmalet, let's not forget probably my favourite statue: The Géant (giant) du Tourmalet. This fabulous statue represents Oscar Lapize. Lapize won the 1910 Tour, the famous first appearance of Tourmalet. Yes, he is the guy that supposedly yelled "assassins" at the Tour organisers.
One of the cooler cycling events I know is the annual pilgrimage of the Géant to the summit every June. Basically, once the road re-opens after a long winter, the statue is driven to the summit - and cyclists escort it. It will be June 6th in 2015 - details.
The Giant and a midget:
Staying in the Pyrenées: Stage 12 of the Tour will climb Col de Portet d'Aspet. In 1995, Fabio Casartelli tragically crashed and died descending/turning on the super steep slopes here (17%). Below is the beautiful monument located just above the crash site. There is also a plaque and often flowers at the exact spot of the crash.
Sadly, there are too many monuments to cyclists killed while cycling. The 2014 Paris-Nice route passed near to the Stele to Andrei Kivilev, the Cofidis rider that crashed near St-Etienne in 2013.
The most best known Tour de France memorial would be for Tom Simpson, one kilometre from the summit of Mont Ventoux (not in 2015 TdF). Simpson died there during the 1967 Tour de France. Far less know is the 1983 memorial (just above the Simpson memorial) to P. Kraemer: an amateur cyclist that died there in 1983. The Simpson memorial:
The First Tour Climbs
(these two are not in the 2015 Tour)
The Col du Ballon d'Alsace is often cited as the first mountain climbed in the Tour de France. At the summit is a plaque to René Pottier, first over the Col in both 1905 and 1906.
In fact, the first climb over 1000 metres to appear in theTour was the Col de la République near St. Etienne. There is a great monument there to Paul de Vivie (aka Vélocio), a true cycling legend - perhaps best known for being a big proponent of using gears. (Thanks!).
Stage 17 of next year's Tour de France will finish at Pra-Loup (Loup means Wolf). While this is not a cycling monument, the Wolf statue at the top is pretty fun. :)
All photos by Will, except the Vélocio photo - taken by my good friend Vélocia, and the Tweet by Mr. Cookson.