Lapize - Now There Was An Ace
2010 is 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 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.