TASTE OF THE TOUR: Pop! It's time to enter champagne country

BY AP • July 5, 2017

Riders in the Tour de France will cycle through some of the world's most valuable vineyards on Thursday, when Stage 6 takes them to the champagne region and the hometown of France's wartime hero and former president, Gen. Charles de Gaulle.

The stage starts in Vesoul and heads to Troyes in the northeastern department of Aube.

When a Tour stage started in Troyes in 2003, the town awarded the race leader at the time his body weight in champagne. While Lance Armstrong's teammate Victor Hugo Pena weighed only 70 kilograms (154 pounds), the U.S. Postal team's staff still loaded about a dozen boxes of the sparkling wine aboard its bus.

Here's a gastronomic, sporting and cultural glance at the stage route:

BAGUETTE AND BUTTER: The mostly flat 216-kilometer (134-mile) leg should set up well for an early breakaway, and then a mass sprint finish.

PLAT DU JOUR: Troyes Andouillette. These tasty sausages made from the large intestine and stomach of pigs are not for vegetarians. When sliced they look like tree rings and are often described as soldiers' socks stuffed with rubber bands. Seasoned with fresh onions, salt and pepper and placed in natural casing by hand, they are then cooked for five hours in well-flavored stock. Best enjoyed with shallot sauce and mustard.

CULTURE: De Gaulle is buried in Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises, located 3/4 of the way into the stage route. The Memorial Charles de Gaulle museum is dedicated to the man in the town where he died after settling there in later life.

Colombey is also the site of a 45-meter-high (145-foot) Cross of Lorraine, which became the symbol of Free France under De Gaulle during World War II as an answer to the Nazi swastika.

VIN DU JOUR: While the spotlight is firmly trained on champagne, little is known about Rose des Riceys, a rare rose that can be aged. Made in very small quantities in the champagne region, this still wine which predates the invention of champagne features a deep pink and cherry color and contains aromas of liquorice, cherry and blackcurrant.

HISTORY: This will mark the ninth time that Troyes appears on the Tour route. During a stage ending there in 1960, the peloton stopped to salute De Gaulle in Colombey. The pause allowed Pierre Beuffeuil to catch up with the pack following a tire puncture and Beuffeuil went on to win the stage.

STAT OF THE DAY: 22. The number of places that Fabio Aru moved forward in the overall standings by winning Stage 5 with a solo attack, taking him to third. Fellow Italian Vincenzo Nibali also won a stage at the Planche des Belles Filles ski station in 2014 and went on to overall victory.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: ''We definitely cannot give Fabio that kind of space again.'' - Overall leader Chris Froome.

FROMAGE: Chaource, Champ sur Barse, Mussy. There are so many cheeses produced in this area it's no wonder that De Gaulle once quipped, ''How can anyone govern a nation that has 246 different kinds of cheese?''

NEXT ORDER: The Tour remains in Troyes for the start of Stage 7 on Friday, a 213.5-kilometer (133-mile) leg that sets up well for sprinters with a finish in the Burgundy wine town of Nuits-Saint-Georges.

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