Tom Barnes takes us through the Ventoux show which is based on the Tour De France and coming to Pegasus tomorrow night

On a scorching hot July day, world champion cyclist Tommy Simpson collapsed a mile from the summit of Mont Ventoux during the Tour de France. He had taken brandy and amphetamines to dull the pain of climbing a mountain dubbed the ‘beast of Provence’, an unrelenting 21km climb that never dips below a 7% gradient. It has two lethal sections: a dense and humid forest, which then emerges to stark and barren limestone.

Simpson’s tragic story was a precursor to almost exactly 33 years later when Marco Pantani and Lance Armstrong went head to head on Mont Ventoux in the 2000 Tour de France. Both overcome unbelievable obstacles to even be there, and were both champions in their own rights. This race changed everything for both of them; one to heroism, the other to despair. However, this is now a story we look back on very differently. Both had doped and cheated during their professional cycling careers. Much is known of Armstrong’s fate, Pantani’s less so.

Accelerate16 years to 2016 and 2Magpies Theatre are bringing Ventoux, to Pegasus. The show restages this epic battle between Lance Armstrong and Marco Pantani on the Ventoux knowing everything that we now know. The race is reconstructed with real race commentary, stunning video footage and a pair of road bikes. We flash back and forth from this fateful race to key moments in their lives and careers. It means cycling fans are coming to the theatre for the love of the sport, something we’ve been actively encouraging.

When we view Pantani and Armstrong’s battle in light of Simpson’s fate, this story becomes all the more unbelievable. For us, this was a story we wanted to tell: both as a love letter to cycling and a human story of the lengths we’ll go to in order to succeed.

Ventoux has something in it for both sides. For die hard cycling fans this was a difficult period in the sport seen in a new way. For those with no prior knowledge, this is an incredible story of risk and desire.

Who knows, you may even fancy a cycle home afterwards.

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