A tale of man and machine battling against breath-taking terrain for the ultimate prize, this is the story of the Alpe d'Huez.
Known as the Tour de France's `Hollywood climb', veteran cycling journalist Peter Cossins reveals the triumphs, passion and despair behind the great exploits on this Alpe and discloses the untold details that have led to the mountain becoming as important to the Tour as the race is to resort at its summit.
The Alpe d'Huez has played a starring role in cycling's history since its first encounter with the sport back in 1952 when the legendary Fausto Coppi triumphed on the summit. Re-introduced to the Tour in 1976, Alpe d'Huez has risen to mythical status, thanks initially to a string of victories by riders from Holland, whose exploits attracted tens of thousands of their compatriots to the climb - which has become known as `Dutch mountain'. A snaking 13.8-kilometre ascent rising up through 21 numbered hairpins at an average gradient of 7.8%, Alpe d'Huez is the climb on which every great rider wants to win.
Many of the sport's most famous and now even infamous names have won on the Alpe, including Bernard Hinault, Joop Zoetemelk, Lucho Herrera, Marco Pantani and Lance Armstrong. As well as days of brilliance, there have been controversies such as the high-speed and drug-fuelled duels of the EPO years in the 1990s and into the new millennium.
First drawn into the sport while a student in Spain in the mid-1980s, PETER COSSINS has been writing about cycling since 1993. He has covered more than a dozen editions of the Tour de France and spent three years as editor of Procycling magazine and the last five as contributing editor to that title. In 2012 he collaborated with Tour de France winner Stephen Roche on his autobiography, Born to Ride. The Monuments, his history of cycling's five greatest one-day Classic races, was published in 2014, when he also translated former French pro Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break. Resident in Ilkley, he is the co-author of Two Days in Yorkshire, a review of the 2014 Tour's Grand Depart in the county.