Mont Ventoux is the scene of one of the most grueling climbs in the Tour de France bicycle race….which has ascended the mountain fifteen times since 1951. In this Stage 18 of the 1987 Tour de France….the followed trail started at Carpentras….and passed through Bédoin…..as its fame as a scene of great Tour dramas has made it a magnet for cyclists around the world.
British cyclist Tom Simpson died on the mountain on 13 July 1967 from heat exhaustion caused by a combination of factors….including dehydration (caused by lack of fluid intake and diarrhea….when he began to wildly weave across the road before he fell down….as he was delirious and asked spectators to put him back on the bike….which he rode to within a half mile of the summit before collapsing dead….and still clipped into his pedals. There is a memorial to Simpson near the summit….which has become a shrine to fans of cycling….who often leave small tokens of remembrance there. In 1970, Eddy Merckx rode himself to the brink of collapse while winning the stage…..when he received oxygen, recovered, and won the Tour. In 1994, Eros Poli….who was not known for his climbing ability…..stole away at the beginning of the day’s stage….after building up a substantial time gap from the peloton….and was first over the Ventoux and eventual stage winner despite losing a minute of his lead per kilometer of the ascent.
In this video herewith…..CBS’s Phil Liggett highlights the casualties of the 1987 Tour de France…. including USA Andy Hampsten, IRE Stephen Roche, ESP Pedro Delgado and FRA Jean Francoise Bernard….as the make their way from Carpentras and up the mountain of Mont Ventroux.