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Lapize... Now There Was an Ace


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2010 was the centenary of the introduction of the Pyrenees into the Tour de France route. It was a contentious decision at that time to send riders on their primitive bicycles into the high mountains. How Tour organiser Henri Desgrange was tricked by his assistant  Georges Steines  into agreeing to direct his riders over 2 000-metre cols is one of the great legends of Tour history.  

The 1910 race was won by the great French champion Octave Lapize  who added to the controversy on the top of the Col du Tourmalet by shouting out to the Tour officials  `Vous etes des assassins! Oui  des assassins!` - `You are murderers! Yes  murderers!`  

For Lapize himself  this was his only Tour victory  but he was an outstanding one-day classics rider and also a fine track cyclist  winning a bronze medal at the 1908 Olympics. During the First World War Lapize  a fighter pilot in the French army was shot down in June  1917  and died in a hospital the following month. For all his initial misgivings  Desgrange had no hesitation in calling the Pyrenean venture a great success and those high cols immediately became an indispensable part of any Tour route. In the 100 years since Octave Lapize`s first epic ascent the Tourmalet has figured 73 times.   Jean Bobet writes..... We knew he had been killed in the war  the 1914-18 one. People even said he died a hero.

The Cafe Lapize belonged to the champion`s father. One day  I ducked under the arbour at the entrance and went inside. Across the large room  I came face to face with the great Octave Lapize  in a large pastel drawing on the wall  resplendent in his French champion`s tricolour jersey. I was looking at the portrait of a true aristocrat. An inscription underneath read Winner of the Tour de France  Paris-Roubaix three times  Paris-Brussels three times.` I spent fifty years thinking about Octave Lapize. Then  one day  I decided to follow his tracks and tell his story. Thanks to him  I experienced the golden age of cycling at the beginning of the twentieth century. The Lapize years.  

ALSO AVAILABLE BY JEAN BOBET : TOMORROW WE RIDE..... Jean Bobet. Jean Bobet`s book is not so much a biography of his superstar brother Louison  nor his own autobiography  but rather an account of the intermingling of their two lives.
By: Jean Bobet
Book: Paperback, 180 pages
Code: MH739555
Publishing Date: June 2010