Circuit of the Deadmen: The 1910 Tour de France

Just in time for the Tour, we are excited to present the newest addition to our Endurance Conspiracy collaboration with the “Circuit of the Deadmen” Vero Jersey. The design, created by Tony DeBoom of Endurance Conspiracy, incorporates the brutality of the 1910 iteration of the Tour De France and Tony's love for the Grateful Dead.  

Endurance Conspiracy enjoys sharing the history of cycling in our own way, with our fans. When we came across the story detailing the introduction of the high mountain peaks to the Tour de France, it immediately touched a nerve. Anytime we can combine two of our favorite subject matters - music and cycling - into a single project, we know we're onto something that will resonate with our people.

-Tony DeBoom, Endurance Conspiracy  

 

The Story Behind the “Circuit of the Deadmen”

Henri Degrange, the originator of the Tour De France, once said that the ideal tour would be one in which only one cyclist finished. With 15 stages covering 4,737 kilometers and an average distance of 300 km per stage, many believed that the 8th edition of the race in 1910 could be that Tour. This would also be the first tour to climb the high mountains of the Pyrenees.

 

The 10th stage, to be run on July 21st, was 326 km long and climbed several formidable peaks including the Tourmalet and the Aubisque. In the spring, Degrange sent out a scout to check the road over the Tourmalet. When the scout had driven as far as the road could take him, he began to walk. After becoming lost in the snow, falling down a ravine and being rescued by nearby villagers, the scout reported back, "The road is perfectly passable and shouldn’t present any undue issues.”

On the morning of July 21st, Henri Degrange was nowhere to be seen - he’d surrendered oversight of the stage to an assistant to avoid confrontations with disgruntled riders.

1910 TdF winner, Octave Lapize, walking up the Tourmalet

 

On the climb of the Aubisque, still with 150 km to ride, a journalist asked eventual winner Octave Lapize how he was doing, to which he replied, “Assassins!”. He planned to abandon once he completed the descent but somehow recovered and went on to win the stage.

Not only was this stage over 200 miles, longer than modern stages, but it climbed nearly 25,000 feet and it was also many years before derailleurs were allowed so the only gear change was flipping the wheel for a different cog. Lapize went on to win the Tour.

 

While the Tour de France included the Alps the next year, the 1910 Tour de France stands out as one of the most brutal races ever. Truly a “Circuit of the Deadmen”.

 

07/03/15

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