James Straffon’s ‘King of the Mountains’ prints, are a series of nine different images in a beautiful small size, at a very affordable price, all in a  reassuringly low worldwide limited edition of just nine for each. At £250 each they have been very popular and are selling fast.

The series of nine limited edition prints is based on historic photographs of key mountain stages in the history of the tour, subtly referenced by James with patterns of red dots, which echo the famous polka dot jersey worn by the rider who collects the most king of the mountains points during the Tour. British cycling legend Tom Simpson features in one of the prints (shown alongside) and the other eight prints in the series are shown below.

Tom Simpson on Mont Ventoux is the clear best seller at the moment, and the edition of nine Simpsons is almost sold out. Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx and Lance/Marco are on his tail.

Specifications and content

Each print has an image size measuring 15 cm x 15 cm and is signed and numbered on the front in the white border under the image area by James Straffon. The overall paper size is 20 x 22.5cm. Each print is offered in a limited edition of just nine worldwide and can be supplied unframed or framed.  Subjects featured in this series include Eddy Merckx, Fausto Coppi, Gino Bartali, Lance Armstrong, Marco Pantani, Tom Simpson, Jacques Anquetil, Charly Gaul, Louison Bobet, not to mention the famous mountains themselves. 

You can get a good appreciation of the span of time covered by these images when you look closely at the changing types of support vehicles that accompany the riders in may of the photographs.

They work well on their own, and in combinations, or as a set of nine. They can be purchased individually, or as set of nine. We will endeavour to supply matching edition numbers to purchasers of a complete set.We use a very slim profile frame on these pieces, which means they can hang close to each other without the frames dominating. When framed they measure 29 x 30cm individually, while a block of nine occupies approx 100 x 100 cm of hanging space.

You can view them individually, in greater detail, with full details of price and size info here

Historical Background

The first ‘King of the Mountains’ was René Pottier, in 1905. At that time this title was  bestowed on the best climber. This continued until 1933, with the first recipient of the Grand Prix de la Montagne being Spaniard Vicente Trueba.

The highly recognisable polka dot jersey first appeared in 1975 – the design courtesy of long-term Tour sponsor Chocolat Poulain (one of the oldest chocolate brands in France) with input from then Tour organiser Félix Lévitan.

The first official mountain stage appeared in 1910, with the introduction of the Pyrénées, and Le Col du Tourmalet. Having conducted a recce for the proposed climb, Alphonse Steines, sports journalist and assistant to Tour organiser Henri Desgrange, cabled back "Tourmalet crossed. Stop. Very good road. Stop. Perfectly acceptable. Stop. Steinès." The first rider over the summit was Octave Lapize, who famously cried at the race organisers "Vous êtes des assassins! Oui, des assassins."

The Alps arrived in 1911, with the Col de Galibier, about which Desgrange wrote "Oh Col Bayard, Oh Col Tourmalet… beside the Galibier you are nothing…"