After two hard days of intense racing in the Pyrenees, Tour de France riders who needed a break will be disappointed.
The stage on Saturday does not take place in altitude but features a difficult finale hard enough to make legs suffer. The silver lining to that is riders won’t be forced to eat sheep intestines, the local specialty in the Aveyron district.
Here’s a sporting, gastronomic and cultural guide to the 181-5 kilometer (113-mile) stage from Blagnac to Rodez:
BAGUETTE AND BUTTER: After two climbs in the final 60 kilometers, the punchy finish is likely to favor breakaway riders who can climb over short distance. The finish line is atop the Cote de Saint-Pierre, a 570-meter sharp ascent with an average gradient of 9.6 percent.
The peloton will start the day in Blagnac, home of aircraft maker Airbus. Rodez is famous for its museum dedicated to painter Pierre Soulages.
PLAT DU JOUR: If you can swallow your fear, you can swallow Tripoux, too. Made of sheep or veal’s stomach and stuffed with ham, garlic, parsley and veal tripe, this local delicacy is eaten all day long … and everywhere: A mountain-climber from Rodez once celebrated his trek to one of the Himalayas’ peaks by treating himself with a box of tripoux at the summit.
Once the sheep’s stomach has been cut in strips and the stuffing rolled up inside, tripoux are cooked in veal stock aromatized with wine.
HISTORY: The home of French and European aeronautical industry, Blagnac was the site of the first Concorde flight in 1969. Three years later, the first Airbus took off from the same hub in the outskirts of Toulouse.
CULTURE: Pierre Soulages, Rodez’s most famous painter, has a museum dedicated to his work in his hometown. Soulages is mainly known for his black abstract paintings. The artist and his wife have made a donation of about 500 paintings displayed in the permanent exhibition.
VIN DU JOUR: Entraygues Le Fel. This appellation for red, white and rose wines cultivated on rocky soils and terraces is made along the banks of the Lot river, north of Rodez. The whites are ideal during summer with their floral and stony mineral flavors.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Two months ago I was lying on a bed in hospital, I could not walk.” Stage 13 winner Warren Barguil, who suffered a slight fracture to his pelvis in April during the Tour de Romandie.
STAT OF THE DAY: 6.8 in kilograms, the minimum weight of a Tour de France bike.
DESSERT: Close to a genoise sponge cake with powder sugar on top, the massepain aveyronnais is best enjoyed with a custard cream. It’s a classic in the area and locals pass the recipe from one generation to another.
NEXT ORDER: Stage 15 on Sunday from Laissac-Severac L’Eglise to Le Puy-en-Velay in Massif Central is a spectacular 189.5-kilometer (118-mile) ride through Aubrac on a rolling terrain with constant up and downs. Four climbs are on the riders’ menu and the rest day on Monday will be very much welcomed.