Ten years on from that big day on the Alpe d'Huez, Ibán Mayo has granted a rare interview to talk about the defining moment in his short career.
The day itself needs no retelling. Mayo triumphed majestically ahead of the likes of Alexander Vinokourov, Lance Armstrong, Joseba Beloki and Haimar Zubeldia, taking Euskaltel's second Tour stage and his first and last ever.
"The truth is that the joy was immense", he told El Pedal de Frodo. "When you know there's only a kilometre or a kilometre and a half left, and you hear the time differences in your ear... Knowing I had two minutes and was likely to win, I tried to enjoy the occasion a little. To win in the Tour is the ultimate achievement for any rider, and for a climber, like I was, it's incredible to win on the Alpe.
"Yes, it was the biggest moment in my career. It's always hard to win in the Tour, and even more so on stages like that. To win on the Alpe d'Huez like a climber and enter the history books... it feels good".
After winning atop the Mont Ventoux and taking the Dauphiné outright the following year, he was a decent bet for winning the Tour in 2004.
As we all know by now, that never materialized. Nine years later, he's adamant that was the best shot he had at the big prize.
"The Tour in which I could have performed the best was the 2004 edition", he states. "There was the hill time trial up the Alpe d'Huez, and I remember thinking it would suit me. I always ceded a lot of time in the time trials, but I was strong in the mountains, so that year's race was the most favourable one for me".
After retiring, some cyclists still find joy in the bike and keep themselves almost race fit. Some, though, prefer to stash it away in the garage and do things they weren't able to while competing professionally.
Mayo appears to belong to the latter group.
"I don't go riding much, and I usually take the mountain bike. I prefer the mountain bike as the traffic's heavy where I live and the cars and trucks overwhelm me. I like the mountains and, what with the limited amount of time I have for training, it's more effective".
Perhaps surprisingly, Mayo reveals he's never gone back to the scene of his greatest triumph - and even jokes he wouldn't be able to get up the mountain.
"To be honest, I've never been back", he says. "Perhaps I'll go back one day and climb it by bike. I'd like that. But right now I'm not sure I'm in the shape I need to be to get up there as I should. Yeah, I'd like to return, but I'd have to train a bit first - right now I'd have trouble getting up!"