The Col du Galibier.
Only pronouncing that name will already give you chills.
Never mess with this mountain or it will mess with you.
It has a height of 2645 metres.
You can almost touch the clouds at the end of the climb.
Or as some people say: ‘you can touch the hand of God’.
This year the Tour de France is celebrating that
the Galibier is in the Tour for a hundred years.
Therefore the Galibier had to be climbed not once, but twice.
On top of that, the riders had to climb to the top for the first time in history.
Never before did the riders finish on 2645 metres above sea level.
The rider who would win this stage will become a legend, for sure.
We all know now that Andy Schleck has become that legend.
On Thursday he proved to be the best rider uphill.
Still, Andy Schleck is not the only legend of the Galibier.
The Galibier has always been an important mountain in the Tour,
so obviously it has created more legends than just one.
Take Emile Georget for example.
 He was the first Tour rider that passed the Galibier in 1911.
Without touching the ground, that is.
A lot of riders walked up the Galibier,
Julien Gabory even lost his own shoes on the climb.
What is the Galibier without a story of Coppi and Bartali?
In 1952 they were climbing the Galibier together.
Coppi would win the stage, but who gave who the water bottle on the Galibier?
A famous picture by Walfrido Chiarini shows that Coppi and
Bartali are holding the same water bottle in the picture.
Fans of Coppi said that he gave his bottle to Bartali,
fans of Bartali said that he gave his bottle to Coppi.
So who was speaking the truth?
Nowadays people think it was Bartali who gave his bottle.
Bartali still had two water bottles left and Coppi had none.
Malabrocca, a good friend of Coppi,
also confessed that it was a bottle of Bartali.
Coppi and Bartali are unfortunately not able to tell us anymore.
The Col du Galibier is the only one that knows what really happened.
In 1966 there was also a moment between the rivals Anquetil and Poulidor.
Just before the tunnel on the Galibier,
Anquetil offered Poulidor a drink.
Poulidor refused it and later on he stated that he ‘wasn’t thirsty’.
Even on the hardest climb, the competition between the two remained.
That is the power of the Col du Galibier.

© Walfrido Chiarini


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