LE PUY-EN-VELAY, France (AP) — After 2,600 kilometers (1,600 miles) of racing, the Tour de France has saved some of its best gastronomic and cultural treats for last. Oh, and let’s not forget the race: Deliciously poised for the final week, with the top four riders separated by less than 30 seconds.
From the start in Le Puy-en-Velay, where tasty green lentils are king, Stage 16 on Tuesday zips into chestnut country, in the Ardeche region, and finishes just east of the River Rhone, in a wine-producing area that sources some of France’s most drinkable reds.
Here’s a sporting, gastronomic and cultural guide to the 165-kilometer (102-mile) trek to Romans-sur-Isere that could come as a bit of a shock to riders’ systems after their hard-earned rest day in Le Puy on Monday.
BAGUETTE AND BUTTER: With a 4.5-kilometer (2.5-mile) climb at the outset and other bumps to negotiate before the plunge down into the Rhone Valley, Stage 16 will quickly make riders forget, perhaps even regret, their day of taking it easy. Some riders always find the post-rest day a challenge. How tough will depend on whether the peloton is in the mood for hard racing before Wednesday’s ascent into the Alps. Race leader Chris Froome’s Team Sky will likely be happy to let riders low down in the overall standings, who aren’t a threat to his yellow jersey, break away in a hunt for the stage victory. But the flat final section will appeal to sprinters, and their teams will work to position them for what will likely be a mad dash at the end for the line.
PLAT DU JOUR:…