When climbing this mountain in 1997, truly historic words were uttered in German racing cycling. At the time, the Grand Ballon was part of the Vosges stage where this famous phrase was mentioned:
“Torment you, you pig!”, Udo Bölts is said to have called out to his teammate Jan Ullrich when he was about to have his yellow jersey snatched away by his competitor Richard Virusque. Encouraged by his colleague, he finally made it. The rest is history. Ullrich was the first and so far only German to drive the yellow jersey over the Champs-Élysées.
September 4, 2020
Our tour began in Spiez on the beautiful Lake Thun. From there it went towards Zweisimmen, a cozy village in the Bernese Oberland. Up to there a busy route with many trucks. From Zweisimmen it became quieter, the route narrower and the landscape very attractive. We were very impressed by Gstaad (1050 m above sea level). All houses here are built in the chalet style, which gives the place a special charm. From Gstaadt (1184 m above sea level) we continued towards Gsteig (Steiga = ascent) to the Col du Pillon (east ramp). The landscape here is characterized by alpine and timber industries. Gsteig's landmarks are the late Gothic church with the pointed tower and the old farmhouse, which can be found on many postcards. The route continued moderately uphill to the COL du Pillon (1546 m above sea level), always with a view of the snow-covered 3000 m glacier Sex Rouge. From here begins the beautiful descent into the warm Rhone Valley via Les Diablerets to Aigle, where viticulture characterizes the descending slopes. The maritime warmth reaches us in Montreux and we enjoy the view of Lake Genver with an excellent pizza 🍕
September 2, 2020