Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Wine and Food of the Tour de France 2018: Stage 16: Carcassonne to Bagnères-de-Luchon

Where are we?
Bagnères-de-Luchon: The regional tourist site tells me that:
The theme of water will be omnipresent throughout your trip to Luchon, with its central Pyrenees location. Water from snow, water from the streams coursing down the mountainside, water from thermal baths renowned since Antiquity and water from Luchon’s Fitness and Well-being Centre, which offers you a guaranteed relaxation experience. Luchon sees the world in blue, the colour of its waters, which will not fail to enchant visitors to this small and pretty spa and sporting town.
Luchon, an authentic mountain town in the Pyrenees at the southern most point of the Haute-Garonne Department, stands at the heart of a majestic mountain setting, where the Pyrenees work their magic. It is surrounded by the mountain range’s 13 most famous peaks, including Aneto, which ist he highest peak in the Pyrenees (3,404m). This lively holiday destination attracts hikers, spa-goers, skiers, white water sports enthusiasts, mountain-bikers and bicycle tourists throughout the year.
Luchon was already renowned for its baths in the Gallo-Roman period and became a very popular destination among high society from the 18th century onwards. The town has played host to a long list of distinguished guests, ranging from Richelieu to Napoleon III, and including Alexandre Dumas, Gustave Flaubert and Sacha Guitry, the famous French actor.

The thermal baths are a must, with their ultra-modern fitness and well-being centre. Their main attraction is the vaporarium, a huge natural steam bath, the only one of its kind in Europe!
Luchon's vaporarium consists of a network of underground galleries, which were developed at the end of the 1960s and renovated in 2010. The thermal water comes from the depths of the mountains, filtering through the rock walls and releasing steam at a temperature of between 38°C and 40°C. The galleries lead to a warm thermal water pool where the temperature 30°C.
LeTour specialties:  water, Pyrenean gastronomy, Peteram (dish made with mutton guts), Pistachio (cassoulet variant), spit cake (family holiday cake), Oo organic trout, Dardenne chocolates (artisans since 1897), Abellio handmade soap.

The stage:  The Pyrenees! Some early drama as the race is due to a due to a farmer protest, who used hay bails to block the road. Police use of pepper spray added to the incident as numerous riders had to seek treatment:

And then, a new break: Barguil, Alaphilippe, Impey, Politt, Bernard, Muhlberger, Molard and Valgren. Alaphilippe is clearly determined to keep the polka dot jersey. They would however be reabsorbed by the peloton.
At the top of the côte de Pamier, another very large breakaway group. That group also would not stay away. DNF: Tim De Clercq. Already off the back:
Kristoff and Démare. It is going to be a difficult few days for the sprinters.
100 kilometers to go and another large escape group. This time, 44 riders. Maybe they would finally let them go?
105 kilometers to go and they had over 4 minutes over the main peloton. Plus, they had been joined by a few chasers, making it a group of 47. The riders are:
Simon Clarke (EF Education First), Silvan Dillier, Matthias Fränk and Pierre Latour (AG2R-La Mondiale), Simon Geschke, Soren Kragh and Edward Theuns (Team Sunweb), Warren Barguil, Maxime Bouet, Romain Hardy, Amäel Moinard and Laurent Pichon (Fortuneo-Samsic), Gorka Izagirre, Ion Izagirre and Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida), Adam Yates and Matthew Hayman (Mitchelton-Scott), Andrey Amador, Daniele Bennati and Marc Soler (Movistar Team), Damiano Caruso, Greg van Avermaet and Tejay Van Garderen (BMC Racing Team), Kristijan Durasek (UAE Team Emirates), Julian Alaphilippe and Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors), Marcus Burghardt and Gregor Mühlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe), Magnus Cort and Michael Valgren (Astana), Edvald Boasson Hagen, Tom-Jelte Slagter and Julien Vermote (Team Dimension Data), Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin), Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ), Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Soudal), Thomas Boudat (Direct Energie), Bauke Mollema, Julien Bernand, Koek de Kort and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Christophe Laporte, Nicolas Edet and Dani Navarro (Cofidis), Marco Minaard and Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).


The first to attack out of that break: Gilbert at around 68 kilometers to go.
Meanwhile, way behind:

63 kilometers to go and Gilbert had one minute over the chase. Jumping from the break behind him, Alaphilippe for more polka dot jersey points. Crash and over the wall for Gilbert, with about 58 kilometers to go. That was scary to see. Wow: he would give a thumbs up to the tv camera, get back on his bike and continue on.

Back on the road, Caruso and Gesink were in the lead up the col de Menté. Behind, small groups were forming. Coming up, with company, to take the kom points was Alaphilippe. I will admit that his polka dot jersey quest has been a Tour highlight for me.
Word that at the finish, a storm had moved away. But would the roads dry before the riders arrived?

Twenty seven kilometers to go and there were 17 in the lead: Matthias Fränk, Pierre Latour (Ag2r La Mondiale), Warren Barguil (Fortuneo - Samsic), Robert Gesink (LottoNL - Jumbo), Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing Team), Pierre Latour (Ag2r La Mondiale), Gorka Izagirre, Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain - Merida), Adam Yates (Mitchelton - Scott), Andrey Amador, Marc Soler (Movistar Team), Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors), Gregor Mühlberger (Bora - Hansgrohe), Michael Valgren (Astana Pro Team), Rudy Molard (Groupama - FDJ), Jelle Vanendert (Lotto - Soudal), Bauke Mollema (Trek - Segafredo), Guillaume Martin (Wanty - Groupe Gobert).
Way back, Demare was apparently 31 minutes behind.
Fifteen kilometers to go and the main peloton was 11 minutes back.
With the descent to the finish, the riders would need to get some distance from Alaphilippe. Attacking as they neared the summit: Yates.

Chasing was Alaphilippe. He was within 20 seconds at the top of the climb.
Behind, no reaction from Sky as Fuglsang attacked.
Yates crashed, was back up riding quickly, but was passed by Alaphilippe. Five kilometers to go and Alaphilppe had a small gap. His frequent looks back were making me very anxious.
Coming across to Yates, Gorka Izaguirre.
Great ride from Alaphilippe to tale the stage.
Once again, we would wait a long while for the peloton.

Meanwhile, behind, the main gc contenders would come down together, under the escort of Sky.

Rank Rider

Times Gap


68h 12' 01'' -


68h 13' 40'' + 00h 01' 39''


68h 13' 51'' + 00h 01' 50''


68h 14' 39'' + 00h 02' 38''


68h 15' 22'' + 00h 03' 21''


68h 15' 43'' + 00h 03' 42''


68h 15' 58'' + 00h 03' 57''


68h 16' 24'' + 00h 04' 23''


68h 18' 15'' + 00h 06' 14''


68h 18' 55'' + 00h 06' 54''

The wine:  Les Foulards Rouges Glaneurs 2016
From CopakeWineWorks
"Glaneurs" is made from Jean-François Nicq's plot of 40 year old vines planted in the foothills of the eastern Pyrénées. 100% Grenache on granite, vinified in carbonic maceration for four weeks in three-year old oak barrels, then bottled at the end of spring with no added SO2.

Food: Peteram from LeTour
Peteram is a recipe made of mutton tripe typical of the Luchon region.
After carefully washing them with water and vinegar, briefly fry the tripe and mutton feet as well as a calf ruffle for 4 to 5 minutes and cut them in small pieces. Briefly fry onions and carrots in lard. In a pressure cooker, put two ham bones, the tripe, the ruffle, the feet, onions and carrots. Cover with water, add lots of pepper, spice with thyme, parsley and cloves. Cook for two hours and add potatoes. Cook again for an hour.

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