The 2022 Tour de France, which kicks off in Copenhagen next weekend, may include a clutch of legendary Tour climbs – including the Galibier, Alpe d'Huez, and Hautacam – but a long unused mountain is back in the news this week.
The Puy de Dôme, a 1,465m volcano in the Massif Central, hosted the famous Poulidor-Anquetil duel in the 1964 race and saw Eddy Merckx get punched by a spectator nine years later.
The climb featured 13 times in the race, beginning with Fausto Coppi's stage win at the summit in 1952, but it hasn't been used since 1988. In the intervening period, the construction of a railtrack alongside the narrow road to the summit and the site's UNESCO world heritage site application have prevented the organisation of a a bike race to the top.
It's one of the Tour's famous 'forgotten' climbs but could be making a comeback in the coming years.
This week, Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme visited the climb with Laurent Wauquiez, president of the local region, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, and Lionel Chauvin, president of the department's council, to reconnoitre the slopes.
"The dream has become bigger today," Prudhomme told regional newspaper La Montagne (opens in new tab). "There's a lot of emotion for us because it's a dream that we've had in our heads for years."
"The Puy de Dôme is a myth, our emblem in Auvergne," said Wauquiez. "And I have always thought that it was a mistake to deprive ourselves of the potential of coming here."
Prudhomme added that revisiting the Puy de Dôme would continue the Tour's recent tradition of taking on climbs that had previously been considered impossible to race up.
"This corresponds to our desire to give the mountains back to the champions," he said. "As we have shown in recent years by going to classified sites or sites that are difficult to access."
He added that he didn't want to make any firm statements or commitments on the future of the climb and the Tour. More meetings on the Puy de Dôme and future Tour routes can be expected in the coming months.
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Daniel Ostanek is production editor at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired as staff writer. Prior to joining the team, he had written for most major publications in the cycling world, including CyclingWeekly, Rouleur, and CyclingTips.
Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France and the spring Classics, and has interviewed many of the sport's biggest stars, including Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, Demi Vollering, and Anna van der Breggen.
As well as original reporting, news and feature writing, and production work, Daniel also runs The Leadout newsletter and oversees How to Watch guides throughout the season. His favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Volta a Portugal, and he rides a Colnago C40.