Where are we? Still in the Pyrenees, heading 183 kilometers from Pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon.
Pau: A sixty-seven-time stage city in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. Michelin tells me that Pau is the birthplace of Henri IV and the most elegant city on the Pyrenees border. Although not as grand as Versailles, it wears its royal past in a discreet and refined manner, with the castle as its cornerstone. Pau is very keen on athletic, intellectual and cultural pursuits, a legacy from its days as a British colony.
LeTour Specialities: Garbure (meat and cabbage stew), poule au pot (chicken stew), foie gras, confit, magret and other dishes derived from duck and goose, coucougnettes du Vert Galant (almond, raspberry and chocolate sweets), honey, wine (Jurançon, Madiran, Pachere
Bagnères-de-Luchon Fifty-seven-time stage cityin the Haute-Garonne. From Michelin Bagnères is the liveliest spa town in the Pyrenees. It is located in a beautiful site halfway along the Route des Pyrénées, overlooking valleys with former marble quarries. Its spa facilities, specialised in treating respiratory diseases, have attracted many famous patients, actors, singers and lawyers. There is a huge choice of walks and excursions to explore, including the hike to lac d'Oô. In winter the ski trails at Superbagnères, Peyragude and Mourtis are not far.
The local tourist site tells me that Bagnères de Luchon, usually called Luchon, is a thermal town since the Antiquity. The first Baths were built during the Roman periode, but with the fall of the Roman Empire, they were forgotten and were no longer used excepted by the local population.
During the 18th century, the Baron Etigny worked for the development of Luchon and contributed to its development. In 1762 to connect the village with "baigneries" the Allées d’Etigny were opened through fields. Then roads were drawn to join Montréjeau. In 1763, the Cardinal Richelieu came to Luchon, the royal nobility was subjugated, and the fame of the city began. In 1880, the Casino was built in with a festival architecture alternating modern and Moorish styles : theater Napoleon III , concert halls , restaurant , games room , lounges.
After long works, on July the 20th of 1857 the thermal Chambert building was inaugurated at the site of the ancient Roman baths. The fame of Luchon is growing more and more. In 1929, the sulfide radio Vaporarium, unique in Europe was born. It is a natural hammam with 1200 meters of tunnels dug into the rock.
Over the years, the Baths have expanded and are now composed of 3 buildings. Luchon is specialized in respiratory and rheumatism cares, but was able to expand its offerings and now offers courses of smoking cessation, “cures freedom”, care against low back pain and fibromyalgia plus an important fitness center.
LeTour Specialities: Pétéram (tripes), pistache (cassoulet), spit/tree cake, Dardenne chocolates, Luchon water, Oô organic trout, Pyrenean soap
From Le Tour: Christian Prudhomme's comment
The great classic of the Pyrenees has been reconsidered for this 2016 edition of the Tour. After the Col du Tourmalet, the race will, for the first time, head up the Hourquette d'Ancizan from a different side before taking on the Col de Val-Louron-Azet and Peyresourde!
A battle with several levels where anything and everything can happen.
The stage: The first time in Tour history that all of the riders have made it this far into the race: no DNFs yet.
The Col du Tourmalet is the most-ever featured climb on @letour - it's been used 83x before today.#TDFdata #TDF2016 pic.twitter.com/aushCrYiFb— letourdata (@letourdata) July 9, 2016
Apparently there bunch was in a hurry today: one hour in and they had completed 51 kilometers. It was clearly time for a break of the day.
🚗🚴🚴 Pinot, Majka <20"> 🚴Jeannesson <10"> 🚴T.Martin <10"> 🚗🚴🚴🚴🚴🚴🚴🚴🚴🚴🚴🚴🚴🚴🚴🚴🚴🚴🚴🚴🚴🚴🚴🚗 <50"> 🚴Van Avermaet #TDF2016— Le Tour de France (@LeTour) July 9, 2016
Martin would catch them (Go Tony, Go!) and with 100 kilometers remaining, they had about two minutes. Behind, besides the yellow jersey, many other riders were being dropped from the pack including Nibali and Alaphilippe.
Speaking of dropped, Cav is apparently 4-5 minutes behind the main grupetto. It is likely that he will leave the race early as he is on the British Olympic team, but is this his last day?
Ahead, Thibaut Pinot crossed the Tourmalet first and collected the Henri Desgranges prize. Note: I have seen no llamas.
Sixty four kilometers to go and the gap was at 1:25. Fifty kilometers to go and it had dropped under one minute. Behind, Movistar had come to the front of the peloton, taking over from Sky. That group would be caught and Sky was back on the front. Clear sign that the French are controlling the cameras: lots of time spent on Pinot falling away from the group.
And there we have it, our first DNF and given his injuries, not terribly surprising:
ABANDON: Michael Morkov (KAT)— José Been (@TourDeJose) July 9, 2016
Just about 35 riders left in the main bunch.
Crash for Kelderman on the descent, but with some help from a teammate, he would be back up riding quickly. Cav is apparently still with Eisel, 26 minutes behind. The best guess for the time cut: 42 minutes. Ahead, the front group was rapidly shrinking. Sky at the front, again. One by one, the riders dropped. 18 kilometers to go and there came the accelerations at the front. Froome included. Contador was quickly dropped. Froome punched the running chicken. No, really.
Froome spectator punch. Who knew he had it in those arms? pic.twitter.com/HmE0QSiYRc— Lois Horwitz (@LoisHorwitz) July 9, 2016
At the top of the climb. Froome attacked and got a gap on the descent. Wow. Three kilometers to go and he had 21 seconds. There are time bonuses on the line as well. He would hold on. Very impressive ride today.
Wine: Domaine Philemon Jurancon Noir Cotes de Tarn
From the importer: Domaine Philémon is located in Villeneuve-sur-Vere, a small village on the Vere river in between Albi and Cordes in the northeast quadrant of the Gaillac appellation. The Vieules family have had a vineyard in Villeneuve since 1804. Today the vineyard is run by Mathieu Vieules who grows wheat, sunflowers and grapes in equal proportions. All of his land is farmed organically with the vineyard being certified in 2013.
I found it both tart and kind of smoky.
Food: Espellette pepper
Thekitchn tells me that: Espelette peppers are harvested in early August and by September, much of the harvest has been ground to a powder or made into piment-based jam or jelly, piment-infused oil or sea salt. Piment d'Espelette is a 4/10 on the Scoville scale, and its fruity, prickly heat infuses a classic poulet basquaise, perks up roast potatoes, a piece of cod or a plate of eggs. And chefs all over France use it in place of black pepper to garnish any number of preparations by adding color, flavor and a bit of sass.
Piment d'Espelette has been an AOC-designated product since 1999 and 10 areas surrounding Espelette are allowed to label their product with the official name. Every October, the Celebration of Peppers takes place in the village of Espelette.