TASTE OF THE TOUR: Nostradamus and braised beef in Provence

BY AP • July 20, 2017

COL D'IZOARD, France (AP) No more mountains.

It's with great relief that Tour de France riders return in the plains on Friday after two days of pain and suffering in the Alps. The peloton will soon reach Paris, but the race first heads south to the flavors and charms of Provence.

Here is a sporting, gastronomic and cultural guide to Stage 19 from Embrun to Salon-de-Provence:

BAGUETTE AND BUTTER: The peloton heads out of the Alps during the longest stage of the 104th Tour. It's not an easy ride as the first part of the 222.5-kilometer (138-mile) trek features several ups and downs that could favor a breakaway group. But the last 50 kilometers towards the south coast are mainly flat, suggesting that a bunch sprint is more than likely.

PLAT DU JOUR: Plat du jour: La Daube Provencale. A braised beef dish prepared with red wine, celery, garlic and carrots that is a classic of French cuisine. Best served with mashed potatoes or pasta and grated parmesan cheese.

DESSERT: The gibassier. This Provence cake is made with olive oil and delicately flavored with anise and orange. According to various sources, its name comes from the word ''giba,''which means ''hump'' in the local dialect. Hence the cake's slightly bombed shape. A Christmas classic.

VIN DU JOUR: After ending his pro cycling career, 1984 Spanish Vuelta champion Eric Caritoux started to cultivate a small parcel of land at the foot of Mont Ventoux. He sends his grapes to a local wine cooperative, which produces the ''Cuvee Eric Caritoux,'' a dark red wine with a spicy finish.

HISTORY: Located in downtown Salon-de-Provence, ''la Maison de Nostradamus'' is a museum set in the former house of Michel de Nostredame, aka Nostradamus. He was a French physician who believed he could predict the future and that history repeated itself. Nostradamus also treated plague victims and worked for a while as King Charles IX's physician. He died in Salon-de-Provence in 1566.

STAT OF THE DAY: 16. This year's Tour is not the tightest in the race history. In 1968, only 16 seconds separated the top three riders just three days before the finish.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: ''I'm on another planet, I've left earth.'' Warren Barguil, exhausted and elated after winning Thursday's big Alpine stage at the Col d'Izoard with a daring attack.

NEXT ORDER: Saturday's Stage 20 is a 22.5-kilometer (14-mile) time trial in Marseille, starting and finishing at the Stade Velodrome, home to the city's soccer team. The route will take riders on mainly flat urban roads, along the Corniche and the Vieux Port. The main difficulty comes after about 14 kilometers with the climb up to Notre-Dame de la Garde cathedral.

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