Pau is a small town just north of the Pyrenees often used as either the beginning or the end of a stage of the Tour de France. If you’re a fan of the Tour, you’ll know Pau.
imagine my surprise to discover this monument to Tour winners in a park near the railway station. It’s called “The Tour of Giants” and has a short story about each victor over the past 100+ years.
Maurice Garin, winner of the first Tour. Notice that Maurice is enjoying a smoke.
François Faber, first non-Frenchman to win the Tour. François is carrying several spare tires.
Bernard Hinault, a five-time winner and the last Frenchman to win.
Jonas Vingegaard winner in both 2022 and 2023.
The great Eddy Merckx, another five-time winner. Known as “The Cannibal” for his hard, relentless riding.
Greg Lemond, first American to win the Tour. Lemond defeated his teammate Hinault to become the first non-European winner.
Fausto Coppi won the Tour the year I was born. His is a strange legacy: first to have seriously used drugs during racing, first to openly discuss it, involved in an extramarital affair that got him in trouble with the Pope. His death at 40, attributed to malaria, may have been a poisoning.
The Australian Cadel Evens tried so hard to win the Tour year after year, but always came up a little short. When he finally won, he cried on the podium. I found that charming.
Octave Lapize made my list because my grandfather was named Octave.
It’s worth noting that Octave’s bike was not quite up to modern standards, nor were the roads he travelled. And his tour was 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) longer than the modern race.