Charly Gaul Photo Gallery
Charly Gaul (December 8, 1932 - December 6, 2005) was one of the cycling's most extraordinary riders. His climbing abilities were so far beyond his competitor's that he was a bomb who could explode a race if he so chose. Some argue Gaul was the greatest climber in cycling history.
He could be a lazy rider, willing to lose great gobs of time on the flats, always confident he could make up the losses in the mountains. Nicknamed "the Angel of the Mountains", Gaul climbed with a far higher pedaling cadence than his contemporaries.
Gaul's 1956 Giro win was dramatic. He was not even in the top ten at the start of stage 18, which finished at the top of Monte Bondone. He prevailed through a miserable, dantesque day of snow and ice to win the stage and the lead. Only 43 riders were able to finish the stage, so terrible were the conditions.
No less incredible was his 1958 Tour de France win. At the start of stage 21 he was more than 16 minutes behind leader Raphaël Géminiani. The stage was run in cold, wet weather and had five major ascents. To demoralize Louison Bobet, whom Gaul detested, Gaul announced which switchback on the Luitel he would escape. He did as he promised and while the peloton suffered in the miserable weather, Gaul motored away. By the end of the stage he had erased all but 67 seconds of his GC deficit. Being one of the few specialist climbers with superb time-trialing skills, he was able to win the 75-kilometer stage 23 time trial and take the lead for good.
Amphetamines were the favorite drugs of 1950 professional cyclists and Gaul's behavior leads one to believe he took them in large quantities. Like all heavy amphetamine users, he could not tolerate the heat and more than once stopped during a race to cool off in a town fountain. He raced extraordinarily well in cold weather.
After retirement in 1965 he became befuddled recluse, living in a hut in the Ardennes forest. He started to return to a normal life in 1983. He died after a fall in 2005
1954: Luxembourg cyclo-cross championship
1955: Tour de Sud-Est
1956: Giro d'Italia with 3 stage wins, Tour of Luxembourg, Championship of Luxembourg
1957: Championship of Luxembourg
1958: Tour de France with 4 stage wins
1959: Giro d'Italia with 4 stage wins, Tour of Luxembourg, Championship of Luxembourg
1960 Championship of Luxembourg
1961: Tour of Luxembourg with 2 stage wins, Championship of Luxembourg
1962: Road and cyclo-cross championships of Luxembourg
Nicknames: The Angel of the Mountains, Monsieur Pipi (from the 1957 Giro where he stopped to relieve himself and lost all hope of winning the Giro), King of the Galibier
Charly Gaul plaque in Parc de la Ville de Luxembourg. Carel Kremer photo
Charly Gaul (left) and Louison Bobet in stage 17 of the 1955 Tour de France. The two racers detested each other.
Charly Gaul suffering on Monte Bondone in the 1956 Giro d'Italia.
Charly Gaul and his Faema team (for which he cared little and refused to share his winnings) celebrate his victory at the end of the 1956 Giro d'Italia
1956 Tour de France, stage 18: Gaul is alone and in front at the crest of the Luitel.
Ercole Baldini (Legnano) leads Gaul in the 1957 Giro d'Italia. Eventual overal winner Gastone Nencini wears the maglia rosa on the right.
1958 Giro d'Italia, Charly Gaul (Faema) leads Ercole Baldini. Josef Plackaert (in the vertical stripped Carpano jersey) is to Gaul's left.
1958 Tour de France, the famous 21st stage. Gaul has left everyone behind him on the Luitel.
A break in the 1959 Giro d'Italia. Charly Gaul (in the pink jersey) with Edouard Delbergh (partially hidden) with Jacques Anquetil on his wheel and Rik van Looy behind Anquetil/
The two greatest climbers of their age: Fedrico Bahamontes (left) and Charly Gaul in stage 17 of the 1959 Tour de France.
From the 1960 Giro d'Italia: Jacques Anquetil overtakes Charly Gaul
1961 Tour de France, Stage 16: From left, Charly Gaul, Jacques Anquetil and Hans Junkermann on the climb to Superbagnères