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Tour de France Gallery: Climbs of the Pyrenees

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Luis Ocana crashed on the Col de Mente in the 1971 Tour de France.

Luis Ocana crashed on the Col de Mente in the 1971 Tour de France.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Italian rider Gino Bartali in the Pyrenees mountains during the 11th stage of the 1950 Tour de France.

Italian rider Gino Bartali in the Pyrenees mountains during the 11th stage of the 1950 Tour de France.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Stefano Garzelli, Lance Armstrong and Ivan Basso on the 2005 stage to Ax-3 Domaines

Stefano Garzelli, Lance Armstrong and Ivan Basso on the 2005 stage to Ax-3 Domaines
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Froome, Wiggins and Nibali take control of the stage to Bagneres du Luchon

Froome, Wiggins and Nibali take control of the stage to Bagneres du Luchon
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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A bandaged Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) does his best up the Col de Peyresourde

A bandaged Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) does his best up the Col de Peyresourde
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alberto Contador (Discovery) attempts to distance Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) up the climb of the Col de Peyresourde during the 2007 Tour de France

Alberto Contador (Discovery) attempts to distance Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) up the climb of the Col de Peyresourde during the 2007 Tour de France
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) leads Serguei Ivanov Serguei (Astana) up the Col de Peyresourde

George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) leads Serguei Ivanov Serguei (Astana) up the Col de Peyresourde
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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French champion Thomas Voeckler (BBOX Boygues Telecom) passes the Fabio Casartello memorial during the 2010 Tour

French champion Thomas Voeckler (BBOX Boygues Telecom) passes the Fabio Casartello memorial during the 2010 Tour
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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2003 Tour de France, tappa 14 Saint Girons - Loudenvielle, Col de Peyresourde

2003 Tour de France, tappa 14 Saint Girons - Loudenvielle, Col de Peyresourde
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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2003 Tour de France, tappa 14 Saint Girons - Loudenvielle, Col de Peyresourde

2003 Tour de France, tappa 14 Saint Girons - Loudenvielle, Col de Peyresourde
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Jan Ullrich (Bianchi) dictates the pace for yellow jersey Lance Armstrong (US Postal) during the 2003 edition of the Tour

Jan Ullrich (Bianchi) dictates the pace for yellow jersey Lance Armstrong (US Postal) during the 2003 edition of the Tour
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The Col du Peyresourde climb begins at 625m above sea level. Just 14.5km to the top which reaches a height of 1,569m

The Col du Peyresourde climb begins at 625m above sea level. Just 14.5km to the top which reaches a height of 1,569m
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Italian cyclist Gian Matteo Fagnini embraces Fabio Casartelli's mother during a ceremony near the monument built in memory of her son in the Portet d'Aspet.

Italian cyclist Gian Matteo Fagnini embraces Fabio Casartelli's mother during a ceremony near the monument built in memory of her son in the Portet d'Aspet.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Carlos Sastre (CSC) celebrates as he crosses the finish line of at Ax-3 Domaines in the 2003 Tour de France.

Carlos Sastre (CSC) celebrates as he crosses the finish line of at Ax-3 Domaines in the 2003 Tour de France.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Frenchman Bernard Hinault leads a group of breakaways as they ride down the Col d'Aspin in the 1979 Tour de France.

Frenchman Bernard Hinault leads a group of breakaways as they ride down the Col d'Aspin in the 1979 Tour de France.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Eddy Merckx, Luis Ocana and Lucien Van Impe in the 1971 Tour de France. Ocana would later crash out of the race in this stage.

Eddy Merckx, Luis Ocana and Lucien Van Impe in the 1971 Tour de France. Ocana would later crash out of the race in this stage.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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A supporter waters US Greg LeMond, riding in the ascent of the Aubisque pass in the 1991 Tour of France between Jaca, Spain and Val Louron in France.

A supporter waters US Greg LeMond, riding in the ascent of the Aubisque pass in the 1991 Tour of France between Jaca, Spain and Val Louron in France.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Mario Vicini on the Pyrenean stage of the 1937 tour de France

Mario Vicini on the Pyrenean stage of the 1937 tour de France
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Raymond Poulidor shows the wounds from a crash on the descent of the Porte d'Aspet after stage 13 of the 1973 Tour de France.

Raymond Poulidor shows the wounds from a crash on the descent of the Porte d'Aspet after stage 13 of the 1973 Tour de France.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Richard Virenque (Quick Step - Davitamon) in his polka dot outfit on the Col de Peyresourde

Richard Virenque (Quick Step - Davitamon) in his polka dot outfit on the Col de Peyresourde
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) dispatched all of his stage rivals throughout the day

Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) dispatched all of his stage rivals throughout the day
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) leads Alberto Contador (Astana) on Stage 14

Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) leads Alberto Contador (Astana) on Stage 14
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Christophe Riblon (AG2R - La Mondiale) on the attack to Ax 3 Domaines in 2010

Christophe Riblon (AG2R - La Mondiale) on the attack to Ax 3 Domaines in 2010
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Christophe Riblon (AG2R - La Mondiale) is victorious at the summit finish of Ax 3 Domaines

Christophe Riblon (AG2R - La Mondiale) is victorious at the summit finish of Ax 3 Domaines
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Astana lead the group on Stage 14 to Ax Domaines at the 2010 Tour

Astana lead the group on Stage 14 to Ax Domaines at the 2010 Tour
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) pulls on the yellow jersey at the end of Stage 14 in the 2010 Tour de France

Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) pulls on the yellow jersey at the end of Stage 14 in the 2010 Tour de France
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Alberto Contador and Michael Rasmussen on the Port de Pailhères in the 2007 Tour de France

Alberto Contador and Michael Rasmussen on the Port de Pailhères in the 2007 Tour de France
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Francisco Mancebo and Michael Rasmussen on the climb to Ax-3 Domaines

Francisco Mancebo and Michael Rasmussen on the climb to Ax-3 Domaines
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) won the 2005 Tour de France stage to Ax-3 Domaines

Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) won the 2005 Tour de France stage to Ax-3 Domaines
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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British champion Geraint Thomas (Sky) in the breakaway on Stage 14

British champion Geraint Thomas (Sky) in the breakaway on Stage 14
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The peloton ascend during the 2010 Tour de France en route to Ax 3 Domaines

The peloton ascend during the 2010 Tour de France en route to Ax 3 Domaines
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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A few stray cows were not interested in moving off the road

A few stray cows were not interested in moving off the road
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Team Europcar lead the huge breakaway group that slowly disolved throughout the 16th stage at the 2012 Tour

Team Europcar lead the huge breakaway group that slowly disolved throughout the 16th stage at the 2012 Tour
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Polka dot-inspired fans run alongisde a tourist on his way up the climb

Polka dot-inspired fans run alongisde a tourist on his way up the climb
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Race leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky) gets low on the descent with teammate Chris Froome in tow

Race leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky) gets low on the descent with teammate Chris Froome in tow
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Huge crowds lined the climb during Stage 16 of the 2012 Tour to Bagneres de Luchon

Huge crowds lined the climb during Stage 16 of the 2012 Tour to Bagneres de Luchon
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas - Cannondale) follows the Sky duo of Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome on the descent

Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas - Cannondale) follows the Sky duo of Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome on the descent
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Carlos Sastre (Cervelo) gave it a go during the stage

Carlos Sastre (Cervelo) gave it a go during the stage
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) leads Alberto Contador (Astana) as the duo escape the rest of their rivals

Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) leads Alberto Contador (Astana) as the duo escape the rest of their rivals
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Antonin Magne in action on the Col de Peyresourde in the 1930 Tour de France.

Antonin Magne in action on the Col de Peyresourde in the 1930 Tour de France.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)

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.