The grand tours are won and often lost in the mountains and on the time trials. These are the stages where you can win enough time. But you can loose on any stage. As Adam Yates said after yesterday’s stage: “If you have a bad day, you can loose minutes.”
Today’s stage is an ondulating stage at the east side of the Rhône valley,
The mistral wind is still blowing in the Rhône valley, at least it did yesterday when I competed this. This can be a challenge. I was cycling down the Rhône valley about three weeks ago. I was mainly following the route ViaRhona, which follows the river at bit to the west of today’s stage. I was cycling from Lyon to Valence and from Valence to Avignon. At this time it was also windy. But I had the wind as tail wind, or “good legs” at is sometimes is called. I was cycling alternatively on the right and left bank. I wanted to visit today’s start city, Montélimar. It was one of the few cities in the area that I had not yet visited. And it was time for lunch. I was just a brief lunch visit. I was crossing from the right to the left bank a little south of Montélimar, and the cross wind was uncomfortably strong. It is harder to handle a bike with 15 kg of luggage in hard wind, than a bike without luggage. I had to turn north to get into Montélimar, meaning that I got the wind as head wind for a few kilomtres. It was hard. If the riders get the mistral as head wind on today’s stage, it can be an interesting and demanding stage. And it will be difficult for breakaways to break away.
The stage goes at the east side of the Rhône valley, a bit away from the best wine districts. But we will still go to these wine districts. Men ikke lenger unna enn at vi kan holde oss i disse vinmarkene. The start city Montélima is ofte said to be the northern end of southern Rhône. When I was in Montélimar a few weeks ago, that had already started the preparation for the party. But I was a bit surprised to see that the wearer of the Yellow jersey had been equipped with a back pack..
We have to modify a little the statement that Montélimar is the northern end of the southern Rhône in a wine perspective. The districts around Saint-Julien en Saint-Alban and Livron-sur-Drôme on each side of the river Rhônen at the confluence of Rhône and the river Drôme are also within the Côte-du-Rhône classification. But these are small districts. I will also remention the white wines from Ardeche across the river from Montélimar, that I mentioned yesterday.
When we are comming to Valence, we arrive in classified wine districts. We should note that the majority of the classified wine districts are on the right bank, but today’s stage goes a bit into the land on the left side. Once again, I have to refer back to what I wrote yesterday: The Rhône valley is a rift valley, and that the geology is very different on the two sides. It is on the Massif Central side we find the more interesting wines.
Først når vi kommer til Valence, kommer vi igjen inn i klassifiserte vinområder. Men de fleste klassifiserte vinområdene ligger på høyrebredden, mens dagens etappe går et stykke inne i landet på venstrebredden. Jeg minner om det jeg skrev i går om at Rhônedalen er en riftdal, og at geologien er ulike på høyre og venstrebredden. Det er på Massif Central siden vi finner interssant vin.
We can mention the wine districts in the northern part of Rhône. Across the river from Valence, we find Saint-Péray. Here the produce still and sparkling white wines, from the grapes marsanne and rousanne. The sparkling wines are made by the traditionel method, meaning second fermenttation in the bottle.
A bit further north, we come to Cornas. Here they only produce red wine, and it have to be 100% Syrah. It is not common in France to require just one grape.
Still on the right bank, we come to Saint-Joseph. They produce most red wine, that shall have at least 90% Syrah. They can have up to 10% marsanne and roussanne. The white wines are made from marsanne and roussanne. 95% of the white grapes produced are marsanne.
We can now cross over to the right bank, where we find Hermitage and Crozes-Hermitage. The red wines shall have 85% syrah as a minimum. Hermitage is often referred to as a masculin wind, full bodiesd, tanninic and can (and should) be matured for some years.
Hermitage is surrounded by Crozes-Hermitage. Hermitage and Crozes-Hermigate is located around the town Tain-Hermitage, where we find the chocolate producer ValRhona.
It is interesting to note that these are the only classified wine regions on the left bank. This hill is geologically a part of the right bank, but it has broken away, and the river has found its way to the west of this hill.
If we continue to the north on the right bank, we come to an area where Saint-Joseph and Condrieu overlap, before it is only Condrieu.
In Condrieu they produce only white wine from Viognier. I also include Château-Grillet, which is France’s second smalles appelaltion, and as far as I know is only one producer, in the northern part of Condrieu. Viognier is at its best, and the wines made from this grapes as its most expensive in this area. I like wines made from viognier to white meat. But they are also recommended to cold and grilled white fish, as well as to Japanese and other asiatic food. I have to admit that I usually buy viogniers wines from Languedoc, where they are not as expensive.
At the northern end, near Vienne, we find Côte-Rôtie. Here they produce red wine from Syrah. It shall be at least 80% syrah in the wine. This is one of the best reds that Rhône can offer.
Tour de France 2016
- Stage 1: Mont-Saint-Michel / Utah Beach Sainte-Marie-du-Mont
- Stage 2: Saint-Lô -- Cherbourg-en-Cotentin
- Stage 3: Granville -- Angers
- Stage 4: Saumur -- Limoges
- Stage 5: Limoges -- Le Lioran
- Stage 6: Arpajon-sur-Cère -- Montauban
- Stage 7: l’Isle-Jourdain — Lac de Payolle
- Stage 8: Pau — Bagnères-de-Luchon
- Stage 9: Vielha Val d’Aran — Andorre Arcalis
- Stage 10: Escaldes-Engordany — Revel
- Stage 11: Carcassonne — Montpellier
- Stage 12: Montpellier -- Mont Ventoux
- Stage 13: Bourg-Saint-Andéol — La Caverne du Pont-d’Arc
- Stage 14: Montélimar — Villars-les-Dombes Parc des Oiseaux
- Stage 15: Bourg-en-Bresse — Culoz
- Stage 16: Moirans-en-Montagne — Berne
- Stage 17: Berne — Finhaut-Emosson
- Stage 18: Sallanches — Megève
- Stage 19: Albertville — Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc
- Stage 20: Megève — Morzine-Avoriaz
- Stage 21: Chantilly — Paris Champs-Élysées
Tour de France