Cycling Col du Tourmalet Luz Saint Sauveur

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Col du Tourmalet - Luz Saint Sauveur

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Basic data & ranking

Average grade: 7.4 %

Length: 19 km

Height start: 711 m

Height top: 2115 m

Elevation gain: 1404 m

Maximum: 10.2 %

Col du Tourmalet rankings

Difficulty ranking world: 323 (all)
Ranking France: 42 (all)
Ranking Pyrenees: 9 (all)
Difficulty score: 148.69 what?

Col du Tourmalet ratings

(4.9) Overall

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One of the big three in the tour, along with the Aubisque and the Galibier. On the west side (Luz), the Tourmalet a very steady climb of nearly 8%. The climb begins immediately upon leaving Luz-Saint-Sauveur. In the forest, the gradient hovers around 8%. After 4 kilometers, there is a small area where you can catch some breath, but until Barèges it goes steadily up again with even a small piece up to 12% just before Barèges. After Barèges you leave the forest and you will find yourself amidst the meadows. Time to take some breath again, but then it goes back towards 9%. The best however is retained for the final kilometer with an average of 10.5% and pieces up to 13%.
Please note that the Col du Tourmalet is closed from early November to early May.

The Col du Tourmalet is situated in Midi-Pyrenees and belongs to the Pyrenees . Starting from Luz Saint Sauveur, the Col du Tourmalet ascent is 19 km long. Over this distance, you climb 1404 heightmeters. The average percentage thus is 7.4 %.

Look for other sides to climb the Col du Tourmalet.

Since 2005, the Col du Tourmalet will be/was climbed in the following big tour stages:
Tour de France 2012 :  Pau > Bagnères de Luchon on 18/07/2012
Tour de France 2010 :  Pau > Col du Tourmalet on 22/07/2010
Tour de France 2006 :  Tarbes - Val d'Aran - Pla-de-Beret on 12/07/2006

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Location info

Find all information on climbs and cycling in Midi-Pyrenees and find all climbs in Midi-Pyrenees on a map.

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Stories, information and comments from Col du Tourmalet climbers
Story by Peter & Rob from London, United Kingdom, submitted on 22/10/2013
We had planned this ride for almost 2 years, but the wait was well worth it. Rob & Peter arrived at Campan mid-morning, a strange place with lots of life-sized puppets placed all over the town. The weather looked bleak with a chill wind, a real shock to the system after leaving our campsite on the Med. We set off onto the Tourmalet together, at a fair pace, as the incline was quite gentle. That was soon to change as we reached the first ‘tunnel’. Robert started to press on and was soon out of sight. Up through the pines and past the mountain streams gave a nice feeling. The writing on the roads gave you the feeling that you were part of the history and battles that had occurred on this epic climb. Robert endured a rough period through La Mongie, but got it back together soon after and powered on towards the summit. Peter, meanwhile, was 1km behind – the grueling final km left to go. As he reached the last hairpin, Robert accompanied him to the summit. The feeling of reaching the summit was quite emotional. We were glad to be part of a band of cyclists who had made such a climb. A quick coffee, then eyeballs out for the descent in fog and drizzle (78 kph). No view from the top as the weather closed. Brilliant ride.
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Story by chris bessant from clavering, United Kingdom, submitted on 27/07/2013
As a novice cyclist, I was invited to do some climbs in the Pyrenees by my son and a friend, to celebrate my 50th.....Yesterday we climbed the Tourmalet from the St Marie de Campan side. Beautiful day, wonderful climb, perhaps I`ll go back less than 103kg next time..
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Story by Scott Shannon from Cazenovia, United States, submitted on 25/04/2013
I rode the Tourmalet in October of 2012 on a holiday extension from business in Barcelona. It was one of the last fall days warm enough to ride shorts and short sleeves, and I started in the morning chill on my own from Saint Savin. Needless to say, I was plenty warm by the time I reached Bareges, and even though the temperature at the summit had dropped to a breezy 60F or so, I was still hot and happy. I only saw two other riders on the mountain that morning, but the echos of TDF''s past were evident every pedal turn in the miles of painted messages on the tarmac! It was truly an epic ride, and I can''t wait to return next summer!
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Story by Brian Grindall from Uckfield, United Kingdom, submitted on 05/10/2012
I climbed the Tourmalet from St.Marie de Campan on Tuesday,September 4,2012 on a tourer carrying 35 lbs of camping gear. It was a cool,clear morning and I got on the climb at about 0900. The first few km to Gripp were ok - a good warm up - and then it started. I got onto the granny ring,found my rhythm and got into my box. Pine forest went on and on and I tapped out a steady tempo until La Mongie came into view - which was almost deserted - and this is where the climb got serious. The last 4 km were challenging - especially the inside of hairpins where you really have to work hard. The cloud cleared and the sun came out as I reached the summit,had my photo taken,put my cape and helmet on and began the descent to Argeles Gazost which,after the ski station car park is an absolute screamer ; watch out for the one-way street going down into Barreges. The whole day was 34 miles and took me about 4 hours - not too bad for a 65 year old weighing well over 200 lbs !
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Story by robert mau from san francisco, United States, submitted on 09/07/2012
Hi my friend and I are trying to ride the col du tourmalet. We will be traveling from Marseille by train. Can anyone provide some traveling information and bike rental information for the area. Much predicated. Robert
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Story by morgan from Pontypool, United Kingdom, submitted on 04/07/2012
Followed part of the Tour 2011 in June 2012,and decided to give then Tourmalet a run, by car, I gave up two wheels many decades ago, I doubt I could have done this climb even then when relatively fit.

In a car, which only made the whole length in bottom gear anyway, I was both delighted with the wonderful views, as well as feeling great admiration for the complete idiots who ride this trip on two wheels, (actually I love the fact there are such idiots in the world), amongst them as we climbed higher and higher, were at least ten or more who were obviously my own age, that is 70 plus.

I just wish I could be as daft as them.

My wife and I are watching the 2012, and can''t wait for stage 16 so we can live it over, if only vicariously, this year.

Mrs has already stated she wants a return trip next year, possibly if the Tourmalet is included, we will be there to wave the wheelers on their way up, or down according to which side we choose, both of possible.

Bon chance and fair weather to all in stage 16, there will two pairs of eyes going with you all the way, via the TV
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Story by Alum3 from London, United Kingdom, submitted on 19/06/2012
Did both sides back to back with a quick ice cream and water stop in Luz in June 2012. They where gritting the road on the way up from Saint Marie de Campan probably to get ready for the TDF, just hoping they clear the loose gravel before the tour comes through.

The descent down to Luz is very very quick. Has to be said not as hard as expected, the perfect weather probably helped, 28C and blue skies and running 34-25 helps as well. What makes this climb special is that you''re cycling in the foot steps of legends, there is even a detour on the way up from Luz sign posted "la Voie Laurent Fignon" in honour of the two times tour winner who passed away in 2010 at far to young an age. The voie fignon is the old route to the summit and rejoins the new road half way up.

Would recommend that anyone doing this does both sides, so you can appreciate the differances between the two climbs.
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Story by Ken Hardacre from Milton Keynes, United Kingdom, submitted on 17/06/2011
I am not a good strong rider, and without the help and encouragement of Andy Parkhurst a good friend of mine I could not write this. During a 3 week stay in France to cover the E''tape du Tour and the TdF itself. I was given the opportunity to ride the Tourmalet which was started on the flat road from the Fuel station near the bridge over the river. I had to do it in 3 sections but I finally managed the peak. Why 3 try''s at it? I have Cancer and Diabetes, but I did not ride alone as I took with me the memory of Ian Kennedy who sadly died of Cancer December 2009. I had many stops and starts, and was helped by many riders from all countries with good words and friendship. I also wear a Yellow wrist band, given to me by Lance at the 2009 Giro. I have a lot to live up to. Livestrong. Ken
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Story by Julian Foot from Strathpeffer, Scotland, United Kingdom, submitted on 15/06/2011
Did the Tourmalet from the west on Tuesday 14th June 2011. It was a hot, sunny and very humid day so I reckon I finished a good few pounds lighter than when I started. Tried to take it steady and keep my heart rate under control. This is vital given the length. The start seems tough, especially knowing how far you have to climb, but when you get out of the trees and into the sunshine it gets really hard. I stuck to the main road which has a nice smooth surface. On a lovely day I only saw one other cyclist on my side. Anyway, I managed the climb all the way completing in about 1hr45mins (in compact with 28 rear). That last km is really hard but it is well worth putting in a bit of hard work to achieve a lifetime''s ambition. Make sure you put all your gear on for the descent gets really cold.
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Story by Bryan Tait from Newcastle Upon Tyne, United Kingdom, submitted on 18/09/2010
Rode the tourmalet with 2 mates the day before stage 16 on this years (2010)tour...the weather was red hot..and after an hours steady climbing I came to the first distance from the summitt sign saying 16km which was pretty demoralising, encouraged on though by the great atmosphere created by thousands of drunken campers lining the route from all over the world...I certinly didnt expect to come across a dutch disco complete with disco lights 2km from the top playing making your mind up bucks fizz...this was a relentless but steady climb and with my 34/28 bottom gear and 45 year old legs I found it quite do-able...I even felt quite emotional on reaching the for the views ??? Well that cannot be put into words...this is one of those rides you have to do before you die...absolutely brilliant!!!
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Story by MJ from Cardiff, United Kingdom, submitted on 30/08/2010
On a touring holiday with my family I found myself in Lourdes with my bike. Informed that I could do a 100k ride that would include the Tourmalet - which I wasnt sure I could get up without stopping - I set out from Lourdes early on a cool overcast Friday the 13th morning. Rode via Argeles to Luz and then up. The signs every K tell you how far you have left and how steep it is for the next kilometer and I was pleased to see the ones that said only 7%! Low cloud meant that there were no views to take my mind off my breathing and I actually missed a couple of the signs - which was nice - the road just goes on and on and as you go higher you can feel the air getting cooler (and thinner) but just keep pushing the pedals and ticking off the Ks until theres just two then one left and yes it does get steeper for that last one. Managed to ride into the storm drain and fall off after avoiding another cyclist and a car coming down and then flew up the last 50 meters or so fuelled by embarrassment! Took two hours but I did it! Got the photo (my thanks to the two Breton cyclists who had come up the other way)and then blasted down through La Mongie really glad of the winter gloves - it was really cold on the hands and feet.
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Story by Pedro R from Porto, Portugal, submitted on 23/08/2010
Ive climbed this great beast for 3 times in my vacations in the Pyrenees in 2010. the first climb was from Luz Saint Sauveur just to check it out. The day was foggy and i couldnt see the landscape. Ive went with the goal of keeping a steady 160 bpm heart rate to manage the 18km with a steady pace. The road is amazing and very constant so it was easy to keep it steady HR even with the gears 39 25 or even 23. The second time i went with the goal of leaving Saint Sauveur and climbing Tourmalet then decending to Sainte Marie Campan to Col dAspin and the way back to Saint Sauver Climbing this time the East side of Tourmalet. It started well with this time the sky almost clear and Ive manage to climb to Tourmalet and DAspin very well with the same HR tactic. (In a race... responding to attacks.. must be demolishing!) When I went to climb my way back from the east side it started raining like hell with thunder storms and heavy winds... boy it was a nightmare to arrive to the top. when I passed La mongie I was strugling to keep it at 10km/h... but it worth the effort! :) I will never forget this week in the Pyrenees. Most beatifull climb: Col dAubisque Most Powerfull climb: Col du Tourmalet
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Story by Thomas Blondiau from , Belgium, submitted on 08/02/2010
Enjoyable ride, good to have this monument on my cv! Quite constant climb. I didnt find the last K (indicated in red on the graph) to be particularly more difficult than the previous kilometers. I had more problems during the Bareges section (and just after passing Barèges) actually. Perfectly suited to do with the gears on my bike, switching between 34x25 and 34x27 during the last kilometers.
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Story by Oscar Stevenson from , United Kingdom, submitted on 24/07/2010
I went up the Tourmalet during the rest day of this years (2010) Tour de France, the 100 year anniversary of the climbs inclusion in the race. Early morning the day was foggy with low cloud and a very light misty rain which made visibility extremely poor. The drama of the climb was still present however as the caravans of the tour supporters appeared silently out of the fog by the side of the road and occasional glimpses to the right through the fog looked like drops into the abyss. Just before La Mongie you Rose out of the clouds and were then confronted with the odd situation of battling up a mountain whilst passing through a town/village where people are milling about in the streets going about there business. Had to almost track stand at one point to let a car out. After La Mongie it is a lovely clear stretch of road (except for tha lamas!) with the summit cruely visible for most of the time. Riding the Tourmalet was a real pleasure, there are no really steep sections so if you get yourself in a good rythm it is just a steady slog. I did it on an old carbon Peugeot from the 80s but changed the chainset so I had 39x28, which was fine. The ride back to Bagneres, which is about 35km downhill, was the most fun Ive had in years!
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Story by John from USA/Europe, United States, submitted on 14/07/2010
I sort of ""stumbled"" on Tourmalet during a road trip of Northern Spain with my girlfriend. I didnt research it much before the ride (I didnt know the length or grade) but I knew it was an epic climb. I started in Pierrefitte-Nestalas but did time the ""proper"" start of the climb, 17.9km from the summit. I didnt stop at any point but could still take in the beautiful view and the plethora of sheep on the way up. I was there just 1 week after the 2009 Tour but there were hardly any cyclists/tourists. It wasnt fast, but got to the top in 1:16 I descended the other side and then got half way up Col dAspin when I noticed my tire was almost busting through the casing (a defect that was recalled by the manufacturer) Closest bike shop was 20km out of the way. So I decided to forge up the the Sainte Marie de Campan side with a 10cm section of the tire torn down to a thin piece of casing. It made a nice ""thump"" on every wheel rotation on the way up. I got to the top of Tourmalet for the 2nd time and the sun was starting to set. I was worried about stress on the tire that braking would produce, so I did the descent (26km) without ever using the rear brake.
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Story by Christian Rocca from , Gibraltar, submitted on 15/06/2010
Just got back from a few days in the pyrenees with a couple of great friends (Chippy and Sellers). Tackled the Tourmalet on the first day and what a day. Set off from Luz-Saint Sauveur which makes it about 18/19 km to the top. It was drizzling slightly for around the last 4-5 km but that just added to the mystique of the climb. Incredible feeling to see the faces of a couple of friends waiting at the top and then sharing the view, the moment and a hot chocolate before starting down.The descent was quite tricky with the wet roads....and boy was it cold coming down! Great climb which will soon be done from the other side!
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Story by Salvador Ruibal from Virginia, United States, submitted on 29/03/2010
I have climbed from both sides and consider the Mongie approach to be somewhat easier overall despite the very steep ramps and avalanche tunnels as one nears La Mongie. From the ski area to the top is often in clouds; you can hear the bells of mountain goats and sheep, so be aware. The Luz St. S route seems steeper because of the stunning views from the switchbacks and the harsh wind. The final mile or so can be very windy, but the finish is more satisfying. Ride carefully down to La Mongie for a double espresso and a sandwich at one of the many cafes there.
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Story by Jean-Philippe Soule from Lourdes, France, submitted on 14/03/2010
Tourmalet is the climb of all climbs from the Tour de France: more Tours have been won on Tourmalet alone than on any other climb. Although its name alone is legendary, the challenge of the actual climb is as real as the scenery is spectacular. The western climb from Luz runs first through a deep shaded valley and then up at a constant grade of more than 7%. Half-way up it opens onto wide meadows and verdant pastures that give you a glimpse of the top—and the much steeper final kilometers that will take you there. There are two ways to climb Tourmalet: get into the mood, suffer and compare your time to the best or take your time, stop to take photos at every turn and save your legs for those last killer kilometers. Either way, youll love riding the legend. If youd like to include Tourmalet in a more comprehensive ride, check out my recommended cycling routes for a selection ranging from loops visiting pristine valleys and medieval villages with fine cuisine to extreme mountain challenges. This page is an excerpt from: ""Best Cycling Routes of the Pyrenees"" -
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Story by Alexander Mascini from Amsterdam, The Netherlands, submitted on 22/10/2009
Started from Argeles-Gazost. You go through the Gorge de Luz. A beautiful scenery. Quite a lot of traffic. Already a lot of ascending road. Mostly not above 6%. From Luz st. Saveur the party starts. In the village you hit a steep part in the corner turning left. From there I thought I had super legs because I could keep it going at an 14km/h. But I was fooled. In the village midway you start hitting the steep parts. From there you have the gear down, at least I did. The climb never decreases in steepness. The scenery was beautiful but I was hating every minute of it. You cant get the tension of your legs for a minute. around 15km I made a sur-place just to give my legs some time without pressure. The last kilometers give you a few extra percent steepness, but with the top in sight not that painfull anymore. 1hour 36 to the top, but I was floored. The descend is definitly worth mentioning. There are almost no sharp corners and the ones you get are very doable. You can get your speed up as long as you want. My neck was painfull from this long awesome descend.
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Story by Jaycee from Tampa, United States, submitted on 18/06/2008
Tips: 1) stop by in Lourdes on your way out, meet the owner of the local bike shop, and get a really cool jersey with all the climbs, 2)bring your rain jacket and gloves in June - your fingers and body will freeze going down otherwise. 3) Argeles Gazost, perhaps best place and best food around. For a treat go to Saint Gavin - amazing chef at Viscos Hotel. Enjoy your ride, and dont forget to take good pics!!
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Story by Jaycee from Tampa, United States, submitted on 18/06/2008
In Begéres, the real fun begins; I saw the last of the quaint villas dissapear behind me. The road reads ""zona pastorale"" and I knew I was in the desolate road to the famous Tourmalet. I found myself in the classic long zig-zags up he climb, gasping for air at times, out of the saddle looking for that last gear on my bike at others; watching the melting snow drifts and the painted herds of sheep by the side of the road. With temps in the 30sF, fog settled in 2 Km from the top and the road took and additional 1-2% pitch; my back wheel spinning on the gravel from time to time. I didnt mind, this made for an epic ride!!Before I knew it I took that last turn into the top and my climb was over! A few minutes later we were taking pictures and sipping hot chocolate at the top restaurant admiring the pictures. It was only later that my girlfriend admitted how this helped her understand my drive and my love for cycling - an amazing experience! Tips to come...
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Story by JayCee from Tampa, United States, submitted on 18/06/2008
First timer - the col du Tourmalet did not dissapoint! We came into Argeles-Gazost, the quintessential French country side town and the amazing Pyrenees in early June08. I had set up a bike rental that was waiting for me at the Inn when I came in. The weather was cool and rainy. On Friday after breakfast we set out for the Tourmalet, down the canyon to Luz St. Sauveur 15 Km away. My sweet girlfriend agreeing to be my domestique in the car. Behind the center of Luz, the road inclines and the count down begins with the road signs every Km.
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Story by Greg Bartley from Albuquerque, USA, submitted on 07/09/2007
Riding solo, I set out from Argeles-Gazost and rode south through the Gorge de Luz and up into the village of Luz St. Sauveur. The weather was perfect with a thin cirrus cloud layer screening an otherwise bright sun and a comfortable 70 degrees F in the valley, probably average for late May. As I entered Luz St. Sauveur, a group of school kids cheered me on with "Allez, allez" as I passed by. Once you make the left turn in town the road pitches up. At first it is gentle and gradually increases in grade. It tempts you to pick up the pace since its not so steep at first, but dont be fooled! This is a long climb with a steep finish and you dont want to blow out too early. The real climbing begins as you enter the town of Bareges and the road kicks up above 8 percent for the first time and stays there for most of the rest of the climb. The scenery is beautiful with plenty of streams rushing down from the melting snow above. As you pass the ski area you come above the tree line and get a great view of the valley below and the auberge at the pass above. Watch out for the herds of goats on the road! They must be used to having cyclists pass along the way and hardly scampered as I approached. At least they gave me the left hand side of the road to pass. The switchbacks begin in the last part of the climb to get you up the final 400 feet of elevation and through the pass. The final kilometer is the cruelest as it exceeds 10 percent and you are battling the elements. You are probably spent by now as well due to the last 18 kilometers of punishing climb. The winds had picked up and were howling through the pass from the east and a cloud layer had thickened, obscuring the surrounding peaks. I reached the top of the Tourmalet in 1 hour 40 minutes from Luz St. Sauveur and took a break before heading down the other side into La Mongie and on to St. Marie de Campan. The switchbacks descending into La Mongie are a thrill, but beware! The road is steep and tight. Once you are below La Mongie the road opens up and you descend below the tree line. You can really carry your speed without worry of sharp curves or obstacles and it was a blast!
Story by jean claude gracia from New York, USA, submitted on 28/06/2007
I was supposed to meet my two brothers to climb the Tourmalet at the bottom in a village called Campan at 8am; then the time passed and nobody showed up; around noon a friend my wife and I decided to go to a restaurant for lunch where we had a beautiful meal and a lot of wine....;I was very sleepy and a little bit drunk after a big meal like this one but because the Pyrenees usually may get bad weather in the afternoon I started the ascension; it started easy with a slow pace and the sun started to hide; the forest was beautiful and the road not too difficult with a beautiful view at every curb; then midway a thunderstorm fell on me like a stone and I was completely wet and I couldnt see more than 2o feet in front of me; I continued my climbing and arrived at La Mongie the ski resort; the climb started to be more difficult before and in the city; the weather changed so much that I was freezing and some snow flakes started to fall; a few miles later a long straight road heading to the summit with a couple of miles of turns and free of trees; then finally the summit; the restaurant was close so I couldn’t get warm; I had only one jersey since the valley was around 80 degrees; finally my wife arrived with the car and we came down the mountain ; I was the bottom of the mountain we find two cyclist waiting at the base camp: it was my two brothers saying I was a traitor, that I should have to wait for them; anyway since this climb was organized for month in advance I had no choice to go with them again; the sun came out right away and my cloth was drying; the beginning was slow because of my young brother that I help out by lying and every curb I told him we are soon to the summit even if I knew we had 20 more kilometer to go! at la Mongie both of them were fried and sit for 15mn on the side of the road; the faces were red and wrinkles started to show very much; not a word; just a look with pain and a little be lost like they were not there but lost in space; I was myself tired and I do not like long straight road like the one after La Mongie because it goes on and on and it seems we are not moving! finally we go back on our bike and we finalize the climb by a sprint between my twin brother and I 2 our 3 turns before the summit: I win and we took a picture in front the monument of a cyclist climbing the one who said one day to the organization of the Tour de France : what do you try to do ? to kill us ! assassin !

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