[CR] MARTEL, Tour de France

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Date: Sat, 3 Jul 2010 09:36:48 -0400
From: Angel Garcia <veronaman@gmail.com>
To: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org
Subject: [CR] MARTEL, Tour de France

Came across the following in the Tour de France site:

Two cyclists have relived the Luchon-Bayonne stage, just like one hundred years ago, to pay tribute to the riders who, on 21st July 1910, were flung into the \u201ckiller stage\u201d by the organisers of the Tour de France.

Once he had completed the last page of his manuscript for \u201cL\u2019étape assassine, Luchon-Bayonne 1910\u201d (The Killer Stage, Luchon-Bayonne 1910, a work totalling 207 pages, with many often new illustrations, priced 18 euros and published by Editions Cairn), the writer and journalist from Tarbes Jean-Paul Rey had the idea and desire to \u201crelive what the champions of another era experienced\u201d. In Marc Lebreton, a collector and restorer or classic bicycles, he found an attentive ear and legs ready to accompany him on this odyssey.

That is how, on Saturday 12th June 2010, the two friends found themselves setting out from Luchon, at 3.30 in the morning, at the same time and same place. They started by climbing up the Col de Peyresourde pass in the black of night, only lit from time to time by the \u201cFilms de la Castagne\u201d film crew from Toulouse, who were shooting a documentary to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the Tour de France\u2019s first visit to the Pyrenees. They then tackled the descent on their bicycles from another epoch, despite their antique brakes: single pad brake at the front and calliper brakes in cork at the rear.

At the foot of the descent, Jean-Paul Rey had the unpleasant surprise of snapping his saddle bar. He reached Arreau without a saddle, climbed the Col d\u2019Aspin pass before descending, still unable to rest his behind. The most astonishing part of the episode was that the repairs he made, in front of a curious and bemused crowd, took place in Sainte-Marie de Campan, the same place where, in 1913, Eugène Christophe sanded down the fork he broke during the descent of the Tourmalet pass!

The climb up the Tourmalet pass was obviously on of the high points of this adventure. Marc Lebreton, a much more experienced cyclist than Jean-Paul Rey, sped off in his beautiful wine red Automoto team jersey, on a bicycle from the same brand, weighing 12.100 kilos and with a single 478 x 24 gear! His companion took it more slowly, weighed down by 20 additional years of age and 900 extra grams, because his Martel weighed 13 kilos, with, for the gears, a 44 at the front and rear, a 24 for climbs and a 20 for the rest, after having turned the wheel.

On leaving Pierrefitte-Nestalas, first of all they came across World Champion Cadel Evans, on a reconnoitring mission of the Tourmalet. Then they came face to face with former champions Jean Bobet (author of the foreword to \u201cThe Killer Stage\u201d) and André Darrigade, who had come specially to encourage them on the way up to the summit of the Col du Soulor pass. Climbing this pass, underneath sunny skies that were starting to heat up and on a generously gravelled road, was a piece of cake for Marc Lebreton, but much less so for Jean-Paul Rey, who had to draw on all his energy reserves to avoid stopping and dismounting.

Finally, Jean-Paul Rey and Marc Lebreton reached the port of Bayonne after 326 kilometres on the roads, at 3.15 am on Sunday, 23 hours and 45 minutes after their departure from Luchon! The Martel family, the descendants of the Tarbes-based bicycle maker who, at the beginning of the last century, made the machine ridden by J-P Rey, had managed to identify the exact location of the finishing line used in 1910 and had drawn a large white line that the two companions crossed arm in arm.

*The passes climbed by the pack during the Tour de France in 1910 on the Luchon-Bayonne stage (326 km)* Col de Peyresourde Col d\u2019Aspin Col du Tourmalet Col du Soulor Col d\u2019Aubisque


Angel Garcia

Long Valley NJ