Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
|Elevation:||1,909 m (6,263 ft)|
|Latitude:||44° 02′ N|
|Longitude:||05° 03′ E|
As the name might suggest (vent means "wind" in French) it can get windy at the summit, especially with the mistral; gusts can exceed 160 km/h. The road over the mountain is often closed due to high winds. The origins of the name could trace back to the 1st or 2nd century, when it was named 'Vintur' after a Gaulish god of the summits, or 'Ven-Top', meaning "snowy peak" in the Gallic language.
The mountain is neither part of the Alps nor of the Pyrenees but stands alone to the west of the Luberon range, and just to the east of the Dentelles de Montmirail, its foothills. The top of the mountain is bare limestone without vegetation or trees, a feature which is sometimes attributed to logging for shipbuilding some centuries ago. The white limestone on the mountain's barren peak means it appears from a distance to be snow-capped all year round. Its isolated position overlooking the valley of the Rhône ensures that it dominates the entire region, and can be seen from many miles away on a clear day. The view from the top is correspondingly superb.
The mountain first gained fame as the site of Petrarch's 1326 ascent, which he recorded in a letter to a friend. This letter is viewed as one of the earliest products of Renaissance and Humanism, as the ascent is inspired by a passage in Livy's History of Rome. Petrarch is considered the father of alpinism, as he expressed the desire to climb Mont Ventoux merely for the joy of seeing the view.
Tour de France
The mountain has become legendary as the regular scene of one of the most gruelling climbs in the Tour de France bicycle race, which has ascended the mountain twelve times since 1951. The road to the summit is around 20 km long, at an average gradient of 7.6 per cent. Its fame as a scene of great Tour dramas has made it a magnet for cyclists around the world.
Mont Ventoux achieved notoriety when it claimed the life of the great English cyclist Tom Simpson, who died here on July 13, 1967 from a combination of amphetamines, alcohol and heat exhaustion. There is a memorial to Simpson near the summit, which has become a shrine to fans of cycling. In 1970, Eddy Merckx rode himself to the brink of collapse while winning the stage. He received oxygen, recovered, and won the Tour.
- Velo News: The curse of the Ventoux
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