You’ll often hear people saying that one of the best things about the sport of cycling is the way in which amateurs can follow in the wheel marks of the pros.
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It’s unlikely that any of us will ever play at Wembley or open the bowling at Lord’s, but we can all ride the roads of the most famous cycle races.
On Saturday June 11, British rider Alfie Earl traced the route of many iconic Tour de France riders as he ascended the Col du Tourmalet, and at eight-years-old he could be the youngest ever rider to summit this famous mountain pass.
This follows his completion of the Tour of Flanders sportive, so could be one to watch for the future.
Starting from Luz-Saint-Sauveur, the youngster climbed the Col in three and a half hours, and was met by a group of walkers and cyclists who’d gathered to cheer him to the summit upon hearing about his exploits.
His dad, Steve Earl, told Cycling Weekly: “The last few kilometres went on forever in thick cloud, but he got there, and was greeted by 100+ cyclists and walkers who had heard he was coming up and so formed a guard of honour at the top of the col.
“It took us 15 minutes to get coffee in the cafe because bystanders wanted to shake his hand and take pictures.”
Alfie’s claim to be the youngest to ever ride up the Tourmalet cannot be verified, but anecdotally he could be in with a shout for the title.
“We asked around in cycling shops in the area and apparently a nine-year-old local has been up it but they couldn’t remember an eight-year-old ever doing it before, so Alfie is quite smug with himself!” said Earl senior.
Despite what was undoubtedly a gruelling day in the saddle, Alfie plans to go on to bigger challenges in the future. Next on the agenda are ascents of Mont Ventoux and the Stelvio, plus a London to Paris ride before he turns 10.