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Luis Ocana crashed on the Col de Mente in the 1971 Tour de France.
Golden memories from the high mountains
As the Tour de France enters the Pyrenees, Cyclingnews takes a look back at the race’s long association with the great mountains. The Tour first visited the Pyrenees in 1910 and Octave Lapize’s famous hiss of “Vous êtes des assassins!” as he wheeled his bike to the summit of the Aubisque was all the endorsement that the organisers needed for their new venture.
The Pyrenees rapidly became a fixture of the Tour rather than a novelty, and one of the great test sites of the credentials of generation upon generation of Tour man. The Tourmalet, Aubisque, Peyresourde and Aspin, the so-called Circle of Death, form the Pyrenees’s most hallowed natural temples, but the entire range has played host to some memorable Tour moments, be it Jacques Anquetil’s daring descent of the Envalira in 1964, Luis Ocaña’s dramatic crash on the Col de Menté in 1971, Bernard Hinault and Greg Lemond’s battle at Superbagnères in 1986 or the late Marco Pantani’s win at Plateau de Beille in 1998.
This year’s Tour has two Pyrenean stages – Saturday sees the race cross the Col de Pailhères en route to the summit finish at Ax 3 Domaines, while stage 9 brings the peloton across the Col de Portet-d’Aspet, the Col de Menté, the Col de Peyresourde, the Col de Val Louron-Azet and Hourquette d’Ancizan.
Check out Cyclingnews' gallery of Pyrenean moments here.