Montée du Géant du Tourmalet
On every first saturday of June, the statue of Octave Lapize is transported from its winter resting place in Gerde, Bagneres de Bigorre, to its famous prominent summer position on the Col du Tourmalet. The statue, inaugurated in 1999, is a tribute to the 1910 Tour de France winner Octave Lapize. That year saw the Tour’s first use of the mountain passes of the Pyrenees. During that gruelling 325km stage, with seven climbs on unpaved roads, using single speed gears, Lapize was famously quoted as screaming ‘vous êtes des assassins’ to race officials.
These days the day is a celebration of cycling and the history of the Tour de France in the Pyrenees. The day starts in Bagneres de Bigorre where the statue is loaded onto the truck and taken to the start line. Hundreds of cyclists, many in traditional cycling clothes and some on vintage bikes, line up to follow the truck up the famous climb. The route is lined with local people playing live music and farmers offering a selection of regional wines, sausages and cheeses.
The procession culminates at the summit, where the statue is fixed into place in front of a back drop of stunning scenery and happy cyclists.
For bike friendly accommodation close to the Col du Tourmalet visit our Pyrenees location page.