Mont Ventoux has taken its place in the folklore of the Tour de France since it first featured in the French Grand Tour back in 1951, when Lucien Lazarides led the peloton over the summit.
Since then, the race has returned only 15 times but the 'Giant of Provence' has nevertheless - and perhaps also as a consequence - acquired a mystical reputation. From triumph to tragedy, with battles like Armstrong-Pantani and Contador-Schleck, and of course a yellow jersey literally running up, the 'bald mountain' has always served up the biggest storylines.
Seven years ater its first visit, Mont Ventoux hosted its first ever summit finish with Charly Gaul taking the win in a time trial and Raphaël Géminiani riding back into the yellow jersey.
Having made return visits to Mont Ventoux in 1952 and 1955, the Tour de France's second summit finish came in 1965 with Raymond Poulidor taking the stage win.
Stage 13 of the 1967 Tour, Marseille to Carpentras, is etched into the history book of cycling as it witnessed the death of English champion Tom Simpson at just 29. Simpson collapsed on the upper slopes of the climb, asking spectators to put him back on his bike before collapsing for a second and final time just half-a-mile from the summit. A memorial has been erected at the site of Simpson's collapse which has since become a shrine for cyclists riding up the mountain who leave tokens of remembrance such as bidons.
The Tour returned to Mont Ventoux three years later with Eddy Merckx taking the win in the yellow jersey on stage 14. Bernard Thévenet won the stage to Mont Ventoux two years later with Merckx also wearing the yellow jersey. The Tour then returned in 1974, only passing over the Ventoux, with a wait until 1987 before it featured again in the race.
The 1987 Tour featured a second time trial of Ventoux, starting in Carpentras, with France's Jean-François Bernard taking the victory and moving into the yellow jersey which he would lose the following day. It would be another seven years before Ventoux returned with Eros Poli the first rider over the summit and taking the stage win at the finish line in Carpentras.
In 2000, Mont Ventoux played host to the battle between Marco Pantani and Lance Armstrong with the Italian winning the stage in controversial circumstances. France enjoyed a fourth win on the Giant of Provence with Richard Virenque winning the stage from Lodève in 2002 with Armstrong wearing the yellow jersey.
Seven years later, Juan Manuel Gárate won the stage to Mont Ventoux from a breakaway while behind Alberto Contador, Andy and Franck Schleck, Lance Armstrong, Roman Kreuziger, Franco Pellizotti, Vincenzo Nibali and Bradley Wiggins were engaged in the fight for the overall. Contador wouldn't be broken though as the then-Astana rider sealed a second overall victory.
To celebrate the 100th edition of the race, Mont Ventoux served as the denouement to the longest stage of the 2013 race with Chris Froome soloing to victory in the yellow jersey and Nairo Quintana announcing himself as the Team Sky's rider biggest rival in the race.
In 2016, Froome and Quintana will be favourites to contest for the stage win again with the former in position to become the first dual-winner atop the 'Géant de Provence'. However, with weather conditions shortening the race this year, the riders won't encounter the 'moon like' upper layers of the climb.
Click or swipe through the gallery above for a close look at some of the best racing images of Mont Ventoux over the years.
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