Utrecht: LeTour tells me that "The fourth city of the Netherlands hosts the biggest university of the country where close to 30 000 students gather." Wikipedia tells me that It has been the religious centre of the Netherlands since the 8th century. Currently it is the see of the Archbishop of Utrecht, the most important Dutch Roman Catholic leader. Utrecht is also the see of the archbishop of the Old Catholic church, titular head of the Union of Utrecht, and the location of the offices of the main Protestant church. Utrecht was the most important city in the Netherlands until the Dutch Golden Age, when it was succeeded by Amsterdam as the country's cultural centre and most populous city."
The tourist website has a list of twenty four attractions not to miss on a first visit, including the Dom Tower, the Dutch Railway Museum and Castle de Haar.
No-one can predict the importance of seconds lost or won by the different riders on the 14 kilometres of the urban course designed in Utrecht.
But it will be the unique opportunity for the strongest time-trialists to distinguish themselves on this solo effort and gain time on their biggest rivals in the mountains. Small benefits shouldn't be neglected…
The stage: A 13.8 kilometer time trial to start things off. The keywords for the day are hot and flat.
A very impressive 14:56 for Rohan Dennis. He had an average speed of 55.45 km/h, the fastest ever in the Tour de France history for an individual time trial. The first of the "big four," Nairo Quintana finished early with 15:57.
In case people have not seen it yet, NBCSN decided to show Andre Greipel's rap video. Really.
Meanwhile, Chris Froome is very, very thin.
Finally on course, the Dutch hope, Tom Dumoulin. He was one second down on Dennis at the first time check and the crowd was, well, going wild. They would be disappointed though, as he came in eight seconds down. Behind, Dowsett, another possible challenger was on the course. Not a great ride for him, but soon to start was my favorite for the day, Tony Martin. And he would not make it. Five seconds down at the end.
Nibali was keeping cool:
On course, Fabian Cancellara. And he too would come in behind Dennis.
The #GrandDepart is over. Froome finishes in 39th, 7sec behind Nibali but 8sec faster than Contador & 11sec faster than Quintana. #TDF2015— Team Sky (@TeamSky) July 4, 2015
Stage and yellow: Rohan Dennis
Top 10 on the stage and GC: pic.twitter.com/tgrIyyxLVC— Jamie Naragon (@TdF4077) July 4, 2015
Alcohol: Chief Gowanus Traditional New-Netherland Gin - Genever!
From FranklyWines ($37)
From the producer: Distilled in the old Dutch colony of Brooklyn from grains grown in New York State, Chief Gowanus is based on an early American recipe for making a version of “Holland gin” out of American rye whiskey. With a little help from Brooklyn’s resident historian of drink, Dr. David Wondrich, we’ve taken our unaged, double-distilled rye whiskey, put it back in our traditional pot still with a few shovelfuls of juniper berries and a handful of Cluster hops (the variety likely to have been in use in 1809, from whence the recipe originates) and run it through a third time. Three months in an oak barrel to smooth it out a bit and the result is gin that, we like to believe, would have brought a smile to the legendary Gowanus, great chief of the Canarsees back in the days when Brooklyn was still Dutch.
Food: L' Amuse Gouda Cheese and Stompetoren Grand Cru Aged Gouda Cheese
Gouda accounts for 50 % of the cheese production in the Netherlands and is done on a huge commercial scale. The name is used today as a general term for a variety of similar cheese produced in the traditional Dutch manner as well as the Dutch original. Of course, there are also versions produced on a much smaller scale.
Wikipedia tells me that "The cheese is named after the Dutch city of Gouda, not because it is produced in or near the city, but because it has historically been traded there. In the Middle Ages, Dutch cities could obtain certain feudal rights which gave them primacy or a total monopoly on certain goods. Within the County of Holland it was Gouda which acquired market rights on cheese, the sole right to have a market in which the county's farmers could sell their cheese. It was at Gouda that all the cheeses would be laid onto the market square to sell."