Saturday, May 12, 2012

Greatest cycling climbs #15 Alpe d'Huez (PART 2/2)

In this second part of the article, we mainly present some interesting background data from the legendary Alpe d'Huez.

Photo: Martti Häkkinen

<<< Tour de France 2011: Ryder Hesjedal (CAN, in front) and Pierre Rolland (FRA) took the big points in Maillot Vert -competition in Le Bourg d'Oissans, just before heading up the climb to the finish at Alpe d'Huez

Surprisingly, Team Europcar's Rolland took the great honour of last years Alpe victory. The fastest man on the ascent was Samuel Sanchex (ESP) with 41'21".

Something has changed since Marco Pantani's fastest time in 1977: 37'35". It's up to you to decide - what could that be? ;-)

Winners of Alpe d'Huez

1952 Fausto Coppi (ITA
1976 Joop Zoetemelk (NED)
1977 Hennie Kuiper (NED)
1978 Hennie Kuiper (NED)
1979 Joachim Agostinho (POR, 1st climb)
1979 Joop Zoetemelk (NED, 2nd climb)
1981 Peter Winnen (NED)
1982 Beat Breu (SUI)
1983 Peter Winnen (NED)
1984 Luis Herrera (COL)
1986 Bernard Hinault FRA)
1987 Federico Echave (ESP)
1988 Steven Rooks (NED)
1989 Gert-Jan Theunisse (NED)
1990 Gianni Bugno (ITA)
1991 Gianni Bugno (ITA)
1992 Andrew Hampsten (USA)
1994 Roberto Conti (ITA)
1995 Marco Pantani (ITA)
1997 Marco Pantani (ITA)
1999 Giuseppe Guerini (ITA)
2001 Lance Armstrong (USA)
2003 Iban Mayo (ESP)
2004 Lance Armstrong (USA)
2006 Frank Schleck (LUX)
2008 Carlos Sastre (ESP)
2011 Pierre Rolland (FRA)

The Grand Stars of Alpe d'Huez - with two victories each: Hennie Kuiper, Joop Zoetemelk, Peter Winnen, Gianni Bugno, Marco Pantani, and Lance Armstrong. Great Respect from the Team Zoncolan!

Alpe d'Huez highlights

1952: Jean Robic attacked at the start of the climb and only Fausto Coppi could stay with him. The two climbed together until Coppi attacked at bend five, four kilometres from the top. Il Campionissimo won the stage, the yellow jersey and the Tour.

1977: Lucien Van Impe, a Belgian rider leading the climbers' competition, broke clear on the Col du Glandon. He gained enough time to threaten the leader, Bernard Thévenet. He was still clear on the Alpe d'Huez when a car drove into him. The time that Van Impe waited for another wheel was enough to keep Thévenet in the lead by eight seconds.

1978: Another Belgian leading the mountains race also came close to taking the yellow jersey. Michel Pollentier also finished alone, but he was caught soon afterwards defrauding a drugs control and was disqualified.

1984: The Tour invited amateurs to take part in the 1980's. The best was Luis "Lucho" Herrera, who lived at 2000 m altitude in Colombia. None of the professionals could follow him. He won alone to the cacophony of broadcasters who had arrived to report his progress.

1986: Bernard Hinault said he would help Greg LeMond win the Tour but appeared to ride otherwise. The two crossed the line arm in arm in an apparent sign of truce.

1997: Marco Pantani, who won on the Alpe d'Huez two years earlier, attacked three times and only Jan Ullrich could match him. He lasted until 10 km from the summit and Pantani rode on alone to win in what is often quoted as record speed (see below).

2001: Lance Armstrong feigned vulnerability earlier in the stage, appearing to be having an off-day. At the bottom of the Alpe d'Huez climb, Armstrong moved to the front of the lead group of riders and then looked back at Jan Ullrich, his main rival for the Maillot Jaune  that year, seeming to challenge him to follow Armstrong up the climb. Seeing no response from Ullrich, Armstrong accelerated away from the field to claim the victory, 1'59" ahead of Ullrich.

Climbing times, Alpe d'Huez

The climb has been timed since 1994 so earlier times are subject to discussion. From 1994 to 1997 the climb was timed from 14.5 km from the finish. Since 1999 photo-finish has been used from 14 km. Other times have been taken 13.8 km from the summit, which is the start of the climb. Others have been taken from the junction 700 m from the start.

These variations have led to a debate. Pantani's 37'35 has been cited by Procycling and World Cycling Productions, publisher of Tour de France DVDs, and by Cycle Sport. In a biography of Pantani, Matt Rendell notes Pantani at: 1994 – 38'00"; 1995 – 38'04"; and 1997 – 37'35". The Alpe Tourist Association describes the climb as 14.454 m and lists Pantani's 37'35" (23.08 km/h) as the record.

Other sources give Pantani's times from 1994, 1995 and 1997 as the fastest, based on timings adjusted for the 13.8 km. Such sources list Pantani's time in 1995 as the record at 36'40". In Blazing Saddles, Rendell has changed his view and listed it as 36'50" as does CyclingNews. Second, third, and fourth fastest are Pantani in 1997 (36'45), Pantani in 1994 (37'15) and Jan Ullrich in 1997 (37'30). Armstrong's time in 2004 (37'36) makes him fifth fastest, highlighting fow the 1990's had faster ascents than other eras.

A number of cycling publications cite times prior to 1994, although distances are typically not included, making comparisons difficult. Coppi has been listed with 45'22" for 1952.

In the 1980's Gert-Jan Theunisse, Pedro Delgado, Lucho Herrera, and Laurent Fignon rode in times stated to be faster than Coppi's, but still not breaking 40m. Greg Lemond and Bernard Hinault have been reported as having the times of 48'00" in 1986.

It was not until Gianni Bugno and Miguel Indurain in 1991, that times faster than 40' were reported, including in the 39' range for Bjarne Riis in 1995 and Richard Virenque in 1997. For 2006, Floyd Landis was listed at 38'34" and Andreas Kloden at 38'35. Procycling listed Fränk Schleck in 2006 as 40'46", the first in more than 40 minutes since 1994. The increased speed in the 1990s had been attributed to erythropoietin or EPO. Riders with sub-40' times, such as Alex Zülle, Riis, and Virenque, have admitted using such products. Landis subsequently had a positive drugs test. There is evidence that Pantani took EPO, while Armstrong remains the subject of an ongoing doping investigation.

The ten best times and some interesting times, Alpe d'Huez
(14.454 m, Alpe Tourist Associastion)

1.   37'35" Marco Pantani 1997 ITA
2.   37'36" Lance Armstrong 2004 USA (*)
3.   38'00" Marco Pantani 1994 ITA
4.   38'01" Lance Armstrong 2001 USA
5.   38'04" Marco Pantani 1995 ITA
6.   38'23" Jan Ullrich 1997 GER
7.   38'34" Floyd Landis 2006 USA
8.   38'35" Andreas Klöden 2006 GER
9.   38'37" Jan Ullrich 2004 GER (*)
10. 39'02" Richard Virenque 1997 FRA
x    39'28" Miguel Induráin 1995 ESP
x    39'30" Bjarne Riis 1995 DEN
x    39'44" Gianni Bugno 1991 ITA
x    41'21" Samuel Sánchez 2011 ESP
x    41'57" Pierre Rolland 2011 FRA
x    42'15" Pedro Delgado 1989 ESP
x    45'22" Fausto Coppi 1952 ITA
x    48'00" Bernard Hinault 1986 FRA
x    48'00" Greg Lemond 1986 USA
(*) The 2004 stage was an individual time trial.

Each summer day, an average of 400 cyclists snake around the 21 legendary bends of the road to Alpe d'Huez. Every Thursday, the tourist offices in Bourg d’Oisans and Alpe d’Huez organise a timed ascent of the 21 bends. On average, there are around 70 participants that take part each week (at 10 a.m from mid June to mid September). The starting line is situated in front of the EDF building, 900 m after the  Grenoble-Briançon roundabout right out of Bourg d’Oisans. After the last roundabout, on your left, the last 900 m of the Avenue du Rif-Nel stretches out in front of you. The finish is at the end of the avenue.

Also see the PART 1 of this article from here

Check our articles from other great road cycling climbs here!

(source: Wikipedia)

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