TASTE OF THE TOUR
The climbs, high-speed descents and hairpin turns on tap for Stage 9 of the Tour de France will be enough to make even spectators dizzy.
Fortunately, the culinary offerings available as the race enters the Alps on Sunday are gentler on the stomach.
Starting in Nantua, near Geneva, the peloton will scale three “hors categorie” — beyond rating — climbs before concluding with a serpentine descent into the Savoie town of Chambery.
Here’s a gastronomic, sporting and cultural glance at the 113mile stage:
• Baguette and butter: Climbs with average gradients near 10 percent are fairly rare in the Tour. Yet there are three of them in this stage. First up is the Col de la Biche with its remarkable views of Mont Blanc, followed by the unprecedented and fearsome side of the Grand Colombier, known as the Directissime, which features gradients of up to 22 percent.
• Culture: The Musilac festival in picturesque Aix-les-bains (located on the other side of Bourget Lake from the stage route) each July is a multi-genre event ranging from rock to electro and pop to reggae.
• History: The origins of Mont du Chat’s (Mount Cat) name are a source of debate. Theories for the naming range from a wildcat haunting the 5,000-foot summit to an animal killed by the knights of King Arthur, who obtained in exchange the estates of Chambery and Montmelian. This is the second time the climb is included in the Tour. In 1974, Raymond Poulidor took a minute off Eddy Merckx but the Belgian great caught up on the descent and went on to win in Aix-les-bains.
• Key stat: 15,000 feet. The amount of climbing in Stage 9.
• Next order: After the race’s first rest day on Monday and a long transfer to southwestern France, the Tour resumes on Tuesday with a flat 111-mile leg from that suits up well for sprinters. The Associated Press