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Tour de France Gallery: Mont Ventoux

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The Mont Ventoux summit

The Mont Ventoux summit
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Charly Gaul leads Federico Bahamontes in the 1959 Tour.

Charly Gaul leads Federico Bahamontes in the 1959 Tour.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Marco Pantani attacks Lance Armstrong on the Mont Ventoux in 2000

Marco Pantani attacks Lance Armstrong on the Mont Ventoux in 2000
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The top of the Mont Ventoux is exposed, often windy and barren

The top of the Mont Ventoux is exposed, often windy and barren
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Juan Manuel Garate (Rabo) won the last time the Tour de France finished on Mont Ventoux

Juan Manuel Garate (Rabo) won the last time the Tour de France finished on Mont Ventoux
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Andy Schleck led Alberto Contador to the line in the 2009 Tour de France finish on Mont Ventoux

Andy Schleck led Alberto Contador to the line in the 2009 Tour de France finish on Mont Ventoux
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Marco Pantani attacked the Mont Ventoux when the Tour crossed it in 1994

Marco Pantani attacked the Mont Ventoux when the Tour crossed it in 1994
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Charlo Mottet (Systeme U) climbs in the 1987 Tour when the time trial went up the Ventoux

Charlo Mottet (Systeme U) climbs in the 1987 Tour when the time trial went up the Ventoux
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Current Lotto directeur Marc Sergeant felt the pain of the Ventoux in 1987

Current Lotto directeur Marc Sergeant felt the pain of the Ventoux in 1987
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Bib celebrates his climb to the top of the Ventoux summit

Bib celebrates his climb to the top of the Ventoux summit
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Bjarne Riis crests the summit of the Ventoux in the 1994 Tour de France

Bjarne Riis crests the summit of the Ventoux in the 1994 Tour de France
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Viachislav Ekimov zips up at the top of the Ventoux in 1994

Viachislav Ekimov zips up at the top of the Ventoux in 1994
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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It's a long way down from the crest of the Mont Ventoux

It's a long way down from the crest of the Mont Ventoux
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Lance Armstrong gave up his only chance to win the Mont Ventoux in 2000

Lance Armstrong gave up his only chance to win the Mont Ventoux in 2000
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Alberto Contador was not going to gift the Ventoux stage to Armstrong in 2009

Alberto Contador was not going to gift the Ventoux stage to Armstrong in 2009
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Charly Gaul on his way to winning the time trial on Mont Ventoux in the 1958 Tour de France.

Charly Gaul on his way to winning the time trial on Mont Ventoux in the 1958 Tour de France.
(Image credit: AFP)
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While Raymond Poulidor (L) finished second overall to Felice Gimondi in the 1965 Tour de France, the Frenchman was able to win atop Mont Ventoux.

While Raymond Poulidor (L) finished second overall to Felice Gimondi in the 1965 Tour de France, the Frenchman was able to win atop Mont Ventoux.
(Image credit: AFP)
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The Ventoux draws cyclists and artists alike.

The Ventoux draws cyclists and artists alike.
(Image credit: Petitesreines/Petitesreines.free.fr)
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Tom Simpson memorial with the view of Mont Ventoux on the horizon.

Tom Simpson memorial with the view of Mont Ventoux on the horizon.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Jean-François Bernard powers his way up Mont Ventoux in the 1987 Tour de France.

Jean-François Bernard powers his way up Mont Ventoux in the 1987 Tour de France.
(Image credit: AFP)
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Eros Poli fights his way up Mont Ventoux in the 1994 Tour de France.

Eros Poli fights his way up Mont Ventoux in the 1994 Tour de France.
(Image credit: AFP)
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Eddy Merckx, wearing the yellow jersey, wins on Mont Ventoux in the 1970 Tour de France.

Eddy Merckx, wearing the yellow jersey, wins on Mont Ventoux in the 1970 Tour de France.
(Image credit: AFP)
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Richard Virenque arrived first at the summit of Mont Ventoux in the 2002 Tour de France, the last time the climb was included in the Tour.

Richard Virenque arrived first at the summit of Mont Ventoux in the 2002 Tour de France, the last time the climb was included in the Tour.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Race leader Lance Armstrong and Marco Pantani approach the Mont Ventoux summit finish in the 2000 Tour de France.

Race leader Lance Armstrong and Marco Pantani approach the Mont Ventoux summit finish in the 2000 Tour de France.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Marco Pantani wins at the summit of Mont Ventoux in the 2000 Tour de France.

Marco Pantani wins at the summit of Mont Ventoux in the 2000 Tour de France.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Jean-François Bernard dons the yellow jersey earned by winning the Mont Ventoux time trial in the 1987 Tour de France.

Jean-François Bernard dons the yellow jersey earned by winning the Mont Ventoux time trial in the 1987 Tour de France.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Jean-François Bernard time trials to the summit of Mont Ventoux in the 1987 Tour.

Jean-François Bernard time trials to the summit of Mont Ventoux in the 1987 Tour.
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Spain's Juan Manuel Garate, winner on Mont Ventoux during the Tour, looks to improve upon his second place finish two years ago.

Spain's Juan Manuel Garate, winner on Mont Ventoux during the Tour, looks to improve upon his second place finish two years ago.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Armstrong and Contador on Mont Ventoux at the 2009 Tour de France.

Armstrong and Contador on Mont Ventoux at the 2009 Tour de France.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Robert Millar (Panasonic) climbs Le Mont Ventoux in the 1987 Tour de France.

Robert Millar (Panasonic) climbs Le Mont Ventoux in the 1987 Tour de France.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Lance Armstrong regretted giving the Ventoux stage to Marco Pantani.

Lance Armstrong regretted giving the Ventoux stage to Marco Pantani.
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Richard Virenque climbs to victory on the Mont Ventoux in 2002

Richard Virenque climbs to victory on the Mont Ventoux in 2002
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Frenchman Louison Bobet, cheered on by his wife, Christiane, climbs the Mont Ventoux in the 1955 Tour de France. Bobet went on to win his third consecutive Tour

Frenchman Louison Bobet, cheered on by his wife, Christiane, climbs the Mont Ventoux in the 1955 Tour de France. Bobet went on to win his third consecutive Tour
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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Simpson collapsed and was given CPR

Simpson collapsed and was given CPR
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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The Simpson memorial

The Simpson memorial
(Image credit: AFP Photo)
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The Simpson Memorial Photo: © AFP

The Simpson Memorial Photo: © AFP

What better way for cycling-mad Tour de France fans to spend Bastille Day than lining the 20.8km ascent to the storied moonscape of the Mont Ventoux summit.

The "Giant of Provence" makes its 15th appearance in the Tour de France this Sunday, the ninth instance of it being a summit finish, and the first time in Tour history that the climb takes place on the national holiday of Bastille Day. And while a journey up to Mont Ventoux undoubtedly meant tired legs and weary bodies no matter the year, this year's stage, at 242.5km, is both the longest of the 2013 Tour de France as well as the lengthiest day of racing in Tour history that ever included the climb.

Many of the Tour's iconic and tragic figures made their mark on Mont Ventoux throughout the years and 2013 seems primed to add yet another memorable chapter to the climb's oeuvre.

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 the first man to crest the summit in a stage ultimately won by Louison Bobet.

The climb would feature in two more Tours, 1952 and 1955, before its placement as a summit finish for the first time in 1958. That year's stage was a 21.5km mountain time trial won by legendary climber Charly Gaul, who went on to claim his only overall Tour de France victory that year.

Prior to 2013 the most recent instance of Mont Ventoux's inclusion in the Tour de France took place in 2009 when its summit served as the finish to the Tour's penultimate stage, the stage seemingly set for a final GC throwdown prior to the following day's ceremonial procession into Paris. However Alberto Contador enjoyed a more than four-minute lead over closest rival Andy Schleck and the two rode to a stalemate, with Schleck edging Contador for third place, both 38 seconds down on stage winner Juan Manuel Garate. The Spaniard was part of a 16-man break which escaped virtually from the gun, and the Spaniard survived to claim the biggest victory of his career. Does anyone remember who Garate outkicked for the stage win? That would be current time trial world champion Tony Martin, a fellow early escapee that day.

This is a rundown of the Tour's 14 visits to Mont Ventoux:

Summit finish:
1958: Stage 15, Bédoin-Mont Ventoux (21.5km time trial), won by Charly Gaul (Lux)

1965: Stage 14, Montpellier-Mont Ventoux (173km), won by Raymond Poulidor (Fra)

1970: Stage 14: Gap-Mont Ventoux (170km), won by Eddy Merckx (Bel)

1972: Stage 11: Carnon-Plage - Mont Ventoux (207km), won by Bernard Thévenet

1987: Stage 18: Carpentras-Mont Ventoux (36.5km time trial), won by Jean-François Bernard (Fra)

2000: Stage 12: Carpentras-Mont Ventoux (149km), won by Marco Pantani (Ita)

2002: Stage 14: Lodève-Mont Ventoux (221km), won by Richard Virenque (Fra)

2009: Stage 20: Montélimar-Mont Ventoux (167km), won by Juan Manuel Garate (Spa)

Crossing of summit:
1951: Stage 17, Montpellier-Avignon (224km), Lucien Lazarides (Fra) first over summit with stage won by Louison Bobet (Fra)

1952: Stage 14: Aix-en-Provence - Avignon (178km), Jean Robic (Fra) first over summit with stage won by Robic

1955: Stage 11: Marseille-Avignon (198km), Louison Bobet (Fra) first over summit with stage won by Bobet

1967: Stage 13: Marseille-Carpentras (211.5km), Julio Jiménez (Spa) first over summit with stage won by Jan Janssen (Ned)

1974: Stage 12: Savines-le-Lac - Orange (231km), Gonzalo Aja (Spa) first over summit with stage won by Jos Spruyt (Bel)

1994: Stage 15: Montpellier-Carpentras (231km), Eros Poli (Ita) first over summit with stage won by Poli

Mont Ventoux facts:

Only rider to win a summit finish while wearing the yellow jersey: Eddy Merckx (1970)

Jean-François Bernard's victory in the 1987 mountain time trial propelled the Frenchman into the yellow jersey for the first and only time in his career. Bernard would surrender the maillot jaune to eventual overall winner Stephen Roche the following day.

Last Frenchman to win a Mont Ventoux summit finish: Richard Virenque (2002)

Did Lance Armstrong, runner-up to Mont Ventoux stage winner Marco Pantani in 2000, "gift" the Italian the stage win? A war of words would forever strain relations between the two about the circumstances surrounding Pantani's victory and the theme "no gifts" would become an Armstrong mantra in future Tours.

One of the most memorable ascents of Mont Ventoux in Tour de France history occurred in 1994, the year Italian gentle giant Eros Poli broke away early in the 231-kilometre fifteenth stage from Montpellier to Carpentras. Poli arrived at the base of Mont Ventoux with nearly a 25-minute lead over a complacent peloton and needed virtually all of those minutes to drag his 6'4" frame up the 20.8-kilomtre ascent in the race lead. Poli, a gold medalist in the team time trial at the 1984 Olympics and a force in Mario Cipollini's lead-out train, had a physique totally at odds with rapid climbing, but still maintained a couple of minutes at the Ventoux summit. Poli plummeted off Mont Ventoux to achieve a most epic solo victory in Carpentras, 3:39 ahead of the day's second-place finisher.

Charly Gaul's time of 1:02:09 for the 21.5-kilometre ascent of Mont Ventoux in 1958 would stand as the record for nearly 41 years until Jonathan Vaughters set a new best time in winning the third stage of the 1999 Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, a time trial along the same course from Bédoin to the Mont Ventoux summit, in 56:50.9. Iban Mayo, the Basque Euskaltel-Euskadi climber, set the current record in the 2004 Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré's stage five time trial, ascending the Giant of Provence in 55:51.49.

No discussion of Mont Ventoux can be complete with mention of the tragedy which took place on July 13, 1967, when Tom Simpson died after collapsing on its slopes three kilometres from the summit. The race doctor tried for 40 minutes to revive Simpson on the roadside and the Briton was taken by helicopter to hospital in Avignon, but could not be saved. A memorial to Simpson stands approximately two kilometres from the summit of Mont Ventoux.

During Mont Ventoux's next inclusion, in 1970, maillot jaune Eddy Merckx tipped his hat while passing the memorial to Simpson just as Tour de France race director Jacques Goddet was leaving a bouquet of flowers at the memorial. Merckx was a teammate of Simpson in 1967 on the Peugeot-BP-Michelin team (although not a competitor at the 1967 Tour) and was the most notable professional cyclist to attend Simpson's funeral.