TASTE OF THE TOUR: Salted sea bass and boating in Brittany
Heading north up the Atlantic coast, the Tour de France enters Brittany where shellfish and refreshing white wines await at the end of Stage 4 on Tuesday.
The rolling route starts at the coastal town of La Baule before running inland and then turning sharply back to the coast 195 kilometers (121 miles) later in Sarzeau.
It could make for an awkward afternoon as the main parties involved in Chris Froome’s recently concluded doping case will likely be brought together.
After months of silence, Froome was finally cleared of doping allegations by the International Cycling Union (UCI) last week. The ruling came after the Tour decided to ban the four-time champion from this race if his case wasn’t resolved before the start.
Now, Froome and Tour director Christian Prudhomme will roll into Sarzeau where the president of the UCI, David Lappartient, just happens to also be mayor.
If all that talk of cycling politics and the ugly side of sports gets you down, then take a look at the added benefits of following the world’s top race. Here’s a gastronomic, cultural and historical glance at the Stage 4 route:
BAGUETTE AND BUTTER: After two flat rides and the team time trial, this stage is another for the sprinters to enjoy. They only need to watch out for some rolling terrain and a short, but abrupt category 4 hike to Cote de Saint-Jean-la-Poteiene two-thirds of the way through the route. Greg Van Avermaet should be able to hold onto the yellow jersey.
PLAT DU JOUR: Sea bass encrusted with salt from the Guerande salt marshes, whose 1,400 hectares have been worked since the late Middle Ages. The highly prized ”fleur de sel,” salt that forms on the water’s surface as it evaporates, is considered some of the best salt in the world.
VIN DU JOUR: Raise a glass of Muscadet white wine, perfect to accompany oysters.
HISTORY: La Baule boasts one of the longest beaches in Europe at almost nine kilometers, swooping inward to outline the bay. Until the mid-1850s it wasn’t frequented by tourists. That was until a ship owner from Nantes planted pine groves just in from the coast, leading to the construction of villas and then the spawning of the current-day resort.
CULTURE: The route passes through the town of Redon, which is surrounded by marshes and the Canut, Vilaine and Aff rivers. This makes recreational boating a major pastime for the area.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: ”Right now it is more about chest-thumping.” – Tejay van Garderen on the morale boost his BMC team got for winning Monday’s team time trial.
STAT OF THE DAY: 79 – The number of spots in the overall standings that race leader Peter Sagan fell after his Bora Hansgrohe teammates dropped him when he couldn’t keep up on the team time trial. He enters Stage 4 in 80th place.
DESSERT: If you need that extra kick before starting the day’s ride, wolf down a chocolate fondant. La Baule claims their fondant is as wonderful as anywhere in France with its salted butter caramel swirled with the chocolate.
NEXT ORDER: No mountains yet, but at least some hills are in store on Wednesday’s 204.5-kilometer (127-mile) trek starting in Lorient and ending in Quimper.
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