Irish to ascend Tour de France summit in search of glory

Irish fans planning to establish an 'Irish corner' on hairpin 10

Irish  cyclist Daniel  Martin: capable of doing well on the climbs. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Irish cyclist Daniel Martin: capable of doing well on the climbs. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Sat, Jun 29, 2013, 06:03

Ever since the legendary Italian cyclist Fausto Coppi took the first Tour de France stage win on the Alpe d’Huez in 1952, it has been the most feared climb in professional cycling.

The road to the finish 2,000m up the mountain, which features 21 hairpins over 13.8km, was an unpaved track when it was first tackled. It wasn’t until the mid-1970s that Alpe d’Huez became a regular fixture in the race. Dutch riders dominated the slopes, winning eight of the 14 stages held up the mountain until the 1990s.

The success brought Dutch fans out in force. Thousands gather at hairpin seven every year for a party that begins days before the riders arrive. With this year’s tour, which starts in Corsica today, featuring two passages of the Alpe on July 18th and Irish rider Daniel Martin capable of taking our first win on the famed summit, Irish cycling fans are planning an invasion. “Irish corner” is to be established on hairpin 10 to challenge “Dutch corner” a little higher, where Irish fans are being asked to gather, party and cheer on Martin and his cousin Nicolas Roche and create a phenomenon for Irish bike fans for decades to come.

Launched on social media by Irish cyclists and fans of the sport Ronan Fox and Stephen O’Shea, thousands of Irish fans are also weighing in ready to descend on the mountain in just under three weeks.