Mont Ventoux has become legendary as the scene of one of the most gruelling and iconic climbs in the Tour de France. It has become a mecca for cyclists around the world to try and summit. Man and machine battling to overcome the elements of mental suffering and physical pain!
On July 13th 1967, Tom Simpson died after collapsing on the mountain three kilometres from the summit. The race doctor tried for 40 minutes to revive Simpson on the roadside and the British rider was taken by helicopter to hospital in Avignon, but could not be saved. Death was caused by a combination of factors, including dehydration, amphetamines and alcohol. A memorial to Simpson stands approximately two kilometres from the summit of Mont Ventoux.
In 1970, Eddy Merckx rode himself to the brink of collapse while winning the stage. He received oxygen, recovered, and won the Tour that year.
Lance Armstrong hated this F.....g mountain, (His words!) Fighting 36-mph winds on the barren, rock-strewn 6,300-foot summit, defending champion Lance Armstrong and 1998 winner Marco Pantani of Italy conducted a raging war in what is arguably the hardest climb of the Tour de France. Armstrong, who surged ahead in the final sprint, appeared to allow Pantani to pass him in the last seconds of the 12th stage in tribute to Pantani's aggressive assault that broke up the lead pack with about three miles to go. The Texan demurred when asked about what French commentators called his “gift.”
“It's not fair to say that,” Armstrong said. “He rode a good race. He was a real fighter today and he deserved the win. It’s appropriate a climber like him wins on a legendary climb like the Ventoux.”
Region: Vaucluse, Provence-Alpes-Cote d’ Azur region France
Open: April to October
Access: From Bedoin follow the D974, (you can also access from Malaucene)
Height: 1,912m,or 1,909m depending on who yopu ask!
Altitude Gain: 1,073m
Maximum Gradient: 12% (ramps in km7 and 21)
Refreshments: At the base of the mountain, in Colombe and at the summit.
The mountain is also known as "the Giant of Provence”.
The fastest ascent of Mont Ventoux belongs to the Spaniard Iban Mayo, recorded in the 2004 Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré. Ascent time, 55m:51s, 23.10 km/h average speed.
Originally forested, Mont Ventoux was systematically stripped of trees from the 12th century onwards to serve the demands of the shipbuilders of the naval port of Toulon.
Mont Ventoux made its Tour de France debut during the 1951 Tour de France when it was featured in the 224km, 17th stage from Montpellier to Avignon with the Greek-born, naturalised Frenchman Lucien Lazarides. He was the first man to crest the summit in a stage ultimately won by Louison Bobet.
Only rider to win a summit finish while wearing the yellow jersey: Eddy Merckx (1970).
Last Frenchman to win a Mont Ventoux summit finish: Richard Virenque (2002).
From 1902 to 1976 the Mont Ventoux Hill Climb for cars and motorcycles took place on the roads of the mountain.