TASTE OF THE TOUR

The Denver Post - - SPORTS -

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

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