Mark Cavendish is back as in his glory days. Being as small as he is, he may have an advantage in headwind, as he can be protected behind other cyclists, and will not catch very much wind when he goes out to the side to pass.
Marcel Kittel was grumpy. But he deviated more from his line than Mark Cavendish did from his. And as usual: Peter Sagan is up there, earning points.
But today is not a stage for the sprinters. This is a stage for climbers. And it is time that some riders should launch serious attacks on Chris Froome, if they are able to.
Today we should start by choosing food. The stage starts in Bresse, famous for their chickens. Bresse-chicken is Francee’s and thus maybe the world’s best chicken. So the main course today should be chicken.
We are in the southern part of the Jura massif. To find Jura wine, we have to go further north, at the west side of the mountains. So we will not open any bottles of Jura-wine this year.
When the riders are not climbing up to summits, the stage goes through the not very well known wine region Bugey, between Jura and Savoie. Bugey got AOP-classification in 2011. The start town Bourg-en-Bresse is located just outside of the upper left corner of the map, and the finish town is out to the right, about where the green marking stops.
We can start with the wine that is labeled Bugey with no other geographical indication. This wine can be produced in the whole area. They produce white, red and rosé, as well as sparkling and the lightliy sparkling wine that in French is called pétillant.
The whites shall be made with minimum 70% cahrdonnay. The rest can be alligoté, altesse, jacquère, mondeuse blanche and pinot gris.
The reds are made from gamay, mondeuse noire or pinot noir.
The rosé shal have at least 70% gamay and /or pinot noir. The criterias says that gamay shall be white juice, meaning that it must not be skin contact. I do not know the porcess used here, but to me this does not look like a way to produce rosé. In addition there can be mondeuse noir, pinot gris and poulsard.
White sparkling wine shall have minimum 70% cardonnay, jacquère and molette. In addition there can be aligoté, altesse, gamay noir (white juice), mondeuse blanche, mondeuse noire, pinot gris, pinot noir and poulsard.
Sparkling and pètillant wine shall have second fermentation in the bottles, and should rest sur lie for at least 9 months.
Some areas may have another geographical name added after Bugey. The first such area we will come to is Bugey-Cerdon. If I have understood it right, which I do not guarantee, will the fermentation stop early because of cool climate and long winters. The second fermentation will start in the bottles when it gets warmer. It should be labeled “Methode Ancestrale”. It is a sparkling wine low on alcohol.
For other areas where they can add a geographical indication, the difference seems to be more restrictions on the grapes that can be used, with fewer secondary grapes allowed.
I the area Roussette du Bugey they make white wine from the grape Altesse, or Roussette as it called locally. This is a grape I usually associate with the neighbouring district Savoie.
It is not easy to find wines from Bugey outside the districts. And to be honest, I would not try too hard to find it. Chardonnay, gamay and pinot noir, are grapes grown may places, and grapes that give better wines other places. As long as these grapes are the principal grapes, the wine will not get its own identity. There are some producers who are producing wines from local grapes. But they are hard to find. Roussette du Bugey may have have more of a local character, but I have to admit that I have not yet tasted it. But Roussette from Savoie is an interesting wine.
I was in this area a few weeks ago, when I was cylcing along the Rhône river. The finishing town Culoz had already dressed up for the party. Where the road into the town took off from the main road, we were clarly reminded what was going to happen.
Along the road into the town, they paid homage to old cycling heroes.
The stage passes through Culoz when the riders are comming down from Grand Colombier, and will pass the finish line for the first time, before going on another round.
This seems to be the place where the finish will be.
The e restaurant where I had lunch, proudly told that Nairo Quintana had been eating there.
It remains to be seen if this will give him something extra up to Grand Colombier.