Alpe d’ Huez, the climb symbol of the Tour de France
L 'Alpe d' Huez is a ski resort in the French Alps in the department of Isère known in the cycling world mainly for hosting a stage of the Tour de France.
Fausto Coppi is the first Italian to win on Alpe d’ Huez in 1952. Marco Pantani placed on Alpe d' Huez the first success of his career in the Tour: the Pirata is 25 and wears the jersey of Carrera. Alpe d’ Huez is the ascent of the champions, perhaps because of this, it becomes the place of choice for the Pirata, that in 1997 doubles the challenge in the jersey of Mercatone Uno. Twenty months after the terrible crash in the Milan-Turin, Pantani reborns on the Alpe and wins with the best climb time: 37'35 '', a record that is still unbroken.
The last Italian to win the 21 hairpins was Giuseppe Guerini, in 1999, with a moment of heart-pounding when a careless spectator knocks him down it in attempt to take a photo.
Alpe d'Huez has been called the ‘’Hollywood climb" by Jacques Augendre, historian of the Grande Boucle. Jacques Augendre writes: ''The Tourmalet, the Galibier and the Izoard were the mythical mountains of the race. These three cols were supplanted by the Alpe d'Huez. Why? Because it's the col of modernity. Coppi's victory in 1952 was the symbol of a golden age of cycling, that of champions [such as] Coppi, Bartali, Kubler, Koblet, Bobet. But only Coppi and Armstrong and Carlos Sastre have been able to take the maillot jaune on the Alpe and to keep it to Paris. That's not by chance. From the first edition, shown on live television, the Alpe d'Huez definitively transformed the way the Grande Boucle ran. No other stage has had such drama. With its 21 bends, its gradient and the number of spectators, it is a climb 'in the style of Hollywood' as named by Jacques Augendre, historian of the Tour.