Find a mountain with a paved road to the top and then pedal up it. However, hill climbing is not easy, as certain climbs involve ascents of thousands of vertical feet. Elite riders can race to the top but success for most involves just getting there. No one may know when the first significant hill was climbed on a bicycle but the first documentation of major ascents occurred in stage races which originated in Europe, the oldest being the Tour de France. It is interesting to note that the first two Tours first held in did not include any mountain passes.
Bikes were heavy, single speed and brake behemoths while many roads were unpaved. Some felt that the riders of the day could not complete big climbs and that adding them to the race route would ruin the Tour. In the first major, high altitude passes were added four major climbs in the Pyrenees Mountains including the now famous Tourmalet which resulted in a great deal of criticism directed at race organizers that the routes were too difficult. As is often the case human potential was underestimated as many riders of that era conquered the climbs in dramatic fashion.
In contrast, was also the year that the broom wagon was introduced to sweep riders up who could not finish the stage. In the first major climb in the Alps was added Col de Galibier with spectacular results. Instead of being a detriment, the uphill duels captured the public imagination and added to the popularity of the event.
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The race route every year thereafter has contained many significant climbs. Other major tours that followed also began to include hills along their routes. Most of the major stage races now recognize this accomplishment as the cyclists earn points based upon their finish in a climb and its difficulty.
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The cyclist with the most accumulated points is awarded the Polka Dot Jersey as the winner of the king of the mountains competition. This will be tricky to control, and the run-in to the final climb is technical. Again, a stage where the Tour could be lost and a definite chance for an escape to stay away with the win going to a punchy rider such as Tony Gallopin, unless one of the outsiders for the overall win decides to stir up some trouble. Long and hot, a scenic beginning before a 30km descent off the Cantal plateau for the 10th day of racing in a row, with the first rest day 24 hours later than usual.
The script of early breakaway, late catch, scary sprint should be followed, but most of the riders will be just making sure they drink enough.
All eyes will be on whichever sprinter has hit form early on, as Marcel Kittel did in and Mark Cavendish did the year before. An amuse-bouche before the serious general classification racing begins, this is a short and probably rapid sprint stage across the south of France with only an early third-category climb to trouble the sprinters. There will be a break, but there are only two more sprint stages after this, so the fastmen will want their teams to control the race.
Mark Cavendish won here in , but 11 years on his form this season has been dubious, so perhaps one of the new generation such as Sam Bennett or Pascal Ackermann? A relatively gentle introduction to the Pyrenees: two first category climbs with long run-in to the opener, the Col de Peyresourde.
At least one or two of the favourites who are weaker time triallists should be effectively put out of the reckoning. Short and very sharp, with the Col du Soulor halfway through to sort the wheat from the chaff, and the finish atop one of the longest and hardest climbs in the Pyrenees. There will be time gaps, but perhaps not as cataclysmic as might be seen at a steeper finish.
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A favourite should win this, and it suits a climber who can use race skills to win rather than simply burning off the opposition - someone with the profile of Adam Yates, Thibaut Pinot or Geraint Thomas. A second summit finish in a row, and a different proposition with two first category mountain passes beforehand, both short and brutally steep, as is the ascent to the chequered flag.
There should be a straightforward selection among the yellow jersey contenders who should be down to a handful by now. Julian Alaphilippe finishes safely near the front to retain the yellow jersey while Geraint Thomas has a largely untroubled ride to remain second overall. Report: Yates claims maiden Tour stage win. BeSpoke podcast: Simon Yates wins in the Pyrenees. After a frantic start, a man breakaway finally escapes and whittles down over two major climbs before Simon Yates, Pello Bilbao and Gregor Muhlberger go clear with 32km remaining.
Yates gets his tactics spot on in a technical finish to win the sprint as he claims his maiden Tour de France stage win, while Bilbao takes second. The general classification takes a day off as Julian Alaphilippe remains in yellow, with Geraint Thomas second. World time trial champion Rohan Dennis abandons the day before the individual time trial.
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Report: Alaphilippe wins time trial to extend lead. Julian Alaphilippe stuns everyone by winning a technical time trial, beating Geraint Thomas by 14 seconds to extend his overall lead on the th anniversary of yellow jersey's introduction before a key weekend in the mountains.
The Frenchman becomes the first rider to win two stages of the Tour, while defending champion Thomas puts time into his other rivals. Report: Pinot wins stage 14 as Thomas loses time. BeSpoke podcast: Travails for Thomas. Britain's Thomas is dropped by the lead group with around one kilometre to go before Frenchman Alaphilippe crosses the line six seconds after compatriot Pinot.
Another of Thomas' general classification rivals, Steven Kruijswijk, finishes third. Report: Yates wins second stage as Thomas gains time on Alaphilippe. Simon Yates claims his second stage win of the Tour with a stunning solo victory, kicking away from Simon Geschke with 8.
Julian Alaphilippe retains the yellow jersey but finally cracks in the mountains and loses time to Geraint Thomas. Thibaut Pinot has another fine day to finish second on the stage and moves up to fourth overall, just 15 seconds behind Thomas. Report: Ewan sprints to second stage win. Caleb Ewan becomes the first sprinter to win two stages in the Tour de France, surging from deep to beat Elia Viviani in searing heat.
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Geraint Thomas gets up after a crash at km to go and finishes safely in the bunch to remain 95 seconds behind yellow jersey Julian Alaphlippe. Jakob Fuglsang abandons after crashing with 27km remaining. BeSpoke podcast: Thomas goes down but is not out. Report: Alaphilippe keeps lead after breakaway win for Trentin.
Italy's Matteo Trentin records his third stage win at the Tour de France as he breaks clear on the final climb of the day to win stage Defending champion Geraint Thomas finishes in the peloton with race leader Julian Alaphilippe. BeSpoke podcast: Luke Rowe disqualified. Report: Thomas drops a place to third as Quintana wins stage Geraint Thomas drops to third overall but stays 95 seconds behind leader Julian Alaphilippe after Nairo Quintana wins the mountainous stage 18 to Valloire.
Thomas' team-mate and Ineos co-leader Egan Bernal moves into second with a late attack on the Col du Galibier. Report: Bernal takes Tour lead as hailstorm stops stage