Editors Note: This is the year Eros Poli celebrates the 25th anniversary of his win atop Mont Ventoux. As we were preparing materials to help Mr. Poli with his celebration we came upon a comment written by Fred Falcone, of Austin Texas, attached to a story on the Cycling Tips website. We thought it summed up nicely what it was like to watch Eros climb to victory that day, so we caught up with Fred to get some more details and to make sure he didn’t mind us sharing.
“I had just moved from Silicon Valley to Grenoble a few months earlier and was a newlywed, as well. I was still living in temporary quarters (hotel) in Grenoble, but having been a racer/cyclist moving from NorCal, I made sure I packed my Bottecchia steel bike (it was 1994 after all). Hearing that the famous Ventoux stage was on Monday, we decided to head down to Avignon early Sat morning to find a hotel and catch the stage on Monday. We lucked out as one of the very expensive hotels had Napoleon’s room available for several nights. So we booked it. What the hell, right?
“On Sunday morning, I decided to ride up Ventoux, from Capentras, so rode up to Chalet Reynard. The climb was filled with fans and the slopes were starting to get crowded with other riders and walkers.
“My plan was to arrive early on Monday and climb up to the top of Ventoux. Being hungover from too many bottles of win the night before, I arrived later than I wanted but proceeded to climb the mountain. Riding thru the forest to Chalet Reynard was amazing. There were fans everywhere, egging you on. Once I hit the bare part of Ventoux, after Reynard, I saw the top of the beast up close for the first time. I kept going, but decided to stop at the Tom Simpson memorial.
“From this spot, we waited for the riders. A fan had a radio so was providing updates and we knew that Eros Poli was the sole breakaway rider. Fans went crazy upon hearing that he was starting the lower slopes at Bedoin. We could finally see the giant figure of Eros laboring away on the pedals. He was going so slow we thought he was either going to crack or get caught. Fans yelled words of encouragement. It was amazing. Minutes later, Pantani, Indurain, De La Cuevas, Virenque, Zulle zipped by. It was a total madhouse by then. Someone yelled out that the radio had just announced Eros Poli had survived and won. Everyone cheered, some cried and we watched the rest of the riders lumber by. What a day.
“I waited until the roads were somewhat clear, having shared swigs of wine with fellow fans, and proceeded to walk down the mountain until I could ride it further down the slopes. I finally got clear of the slopes but there was a lot of traffic in Bedoin so the going was slow. I rode slowly to Carpentras where my ride back to Avignon was waiting. My wife said I had this big smile on my face like a kid and she had heard an Italian had won it. Yes, an Italian had won. What a day. I will never forget it.”
Thanks to Fred Falcone for letting us share his memory of Eros’ historic victory.