A guide to the Tour de France
Ned Boulting (short, as you may know, for Jeanned de Boultingham) put in a double shift today. The women's race, la Course by le Tour de France, was on from about 9.30am, and it was followed by the men's stage 10. Ok, it's not coal mining, or even picking in an Amazon warehouse, but that is a lot of talking.
Still on yesterday's hobby horse, it seemed to me that draughting (or is it drafting?) very nearly had a decisive effect on the women's race. As Annemiek van Vleuten chased Anna van der Breggen down to le Grand Bornand, de Boultingham mentioned that the gap was yo-yo-ing; what he didn't say was that every time there was a TV motorbike in front of AVDB, the gap went up, and when she was being filmed from behind, it came down again.
And I'm no conspiracy theorist, although I will say that I enjoy re-runs of Neil and Buzz landing on the moon much less since I found out it was all staged in a TV studio.
Anyway, at some point in the last kilometre, the motorbikes are directed off the course. Then, van Vleuten overtook her compatriot, and claimed a deserved victory.
It was an interesting race to watch, and better, I would say, than circuits of the Champs-Elysées. The pace up the mountains wasn't as high as that of the men, of course, but in a way it strikes more of a chord - it's closer to the way I might hack up there, although still a good deal faster.
The riders seemed to appreciate it. Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig, fourth on the day, spoke eloquently of the cheering, the Danish flags, and seeing her name on the road. 'It was one of the best days of my life.'
De Boultingham went rogue as Julian Alaphilippe neared the line in winning the men's race. 'He has been aggressive, he has been twitchy, he has been charismatic, he has been ruthless, he has been charming, he has been bristling...' There were a few other adjectives besides, all preceded by 'he has been'. I mean 'twitchy' - really?
Jeanned had been at the coal face for a long time when he splurged this verbiage into his microphone. It can be overlooked on this one occasion, but it must stop. If he insists another time, he should use the original lyrics: 'he has been effectual, he has been intellectual, he has been indisputable, he has been a championship, he has been the most tip top Top Cat.'
A 'super nice' from Greg van A, who stays in yellow. Just like his second place on Stage 9, it is close to making my counter tick over, but no cigar.
There was perhaps a touch of the Tommy Voeckler to Alaphilippe as he neared the line, shaking his head and making faces to the camera. Still, it's a first stage win for a talented and deserving rider.
The Cycling Podcast have a running (or cycling?) joke about riding à la Zubeldia, which means to ride quietly into the top ten on GC without ever appearing on the television screen. I think a cycling joke about riding à la Alaphilippe might be confusing and is best avoided.
The GC contenders are looking at the three days in the Alps as a block, which explains why nobody was blasting off the front today (except Dan Martin, a bit). Boardman pointed out that Bardet and Quintana both need to make up time, so they might try something tomorrow.
Correct predictions of stage winners on this website: 2 out of 10
Stage 11 of the Tour de France 2018 is 108km from Albertville to la Rosière Espace San Bernado.
Read about Stage 11 of the 2018 Tour de France.
Annecy is a historic town on the shore of Lake Annecy, in the Haute Savoie département of France. It has a population of about 52,000. It is sometimes called 'the Venice of the Alps', because two canals and the little river Thiou run through it.
There was a Roman settlement at what is now the adjacent town of Annecy-le-Vieux (not to be confused with the historic centre of Annecy, known as Vieil Annecy).
Annecy was one of the residences of the Counts of Geneva from the C10th. It passed to the counts of Savoy in 1401.
When the Protestant faith spread through the region, Annecy was a centre of the Catholic counter-Reformation. The old Bishopric of Geneva was transferred to Annecy in 1535. Francois de Sales was a celebrated bishop of Annecy from 1602 to 1622.
At the time of the French Revolution, Annecy was conquered and became part of France. It was returned to the House of Savoy after the defeat of Napoleon (1815), then became part of France for good under Napoleon III in 1860.
One of the historic buildings in the centre of Annecy is the Palais de l'Isle. It is a Medieval building which dates from around 1325, and has served as a fortress, a prison, a courthouse, and a mint. Today, it houses a local history museum.
Parts of the Château d'Annecy (in particular la Tour de la Reine) date from the 1200s. The château was the home of the Counts of Geneva, and now houses l'Observatoire Régional des Lacs Alpins (Regional Observatory of Alpine Lakes).
In the 1800s, Annecy manufactured linen, glass, cutlery, and leather. Later, paper was also made here, there was a bell foundry at Annecy-le-Vieux, and Salomon skis had a factory near the lake.
Today, tourism and services are the largest part of the local economy.
Lake Annecy, by HedgehogCycling
Lake Annecy (le Lac d'Annecy, or 'le lac bleu') is 14.6km long, and has a circumference of around 38km. It's not the biggest lake in France, as it's smaller than the Lac du Bourget, but it's the most beautiful.
The lake formed about 30,000 years ago, at a time when great Alpine glaciers were melting.
The lake is supplied with water by seven streams, and by a powerful underwater spring called the Boubioz. Water runs out of the north end of the lake, into the Thiou, which becomes the Fier, which in turn flows into the Rhone. It takes 4 years for all the water in the lake to be replaced.
The average depth of Lake Annecy is 41.5m, and it's 81m down to the deepest point. The water temperature gets up to 22C in July.
The lake narrows to 800m between Talloires and Duingt. To the north of that point is what's known as the Grand Lac, which has shallower shores dotted with villages and vineyards; to the south is the Petit Lac, with steep, wooded slopes.
In the 1950s, Lake Annecy became quite polluted, particularly from sewage from the surrounding hotels. A decision was made to treat all sewage properly, and in 1957, a filtering plant was built at Cran. This helped the lake water to regain its purity, and over the space of 20 years, the depth of visibility increased from 4.6 to 8m. The level of nitrates in the lake water is particularly low.
Activities on and in the lake include boating, rowing, sailing, swimming, fishing, diving, windsurfing, and water skiing. The Fête du Lac, with fireworks, takes place on the first Saturday in August.
Mark Twain wrote of Lake Annecy, 'It is a revelation. It is a miracle. It brings the tears to a body's eyes it is so enchanting. That is to say, it affects you just as all things that you instantly recognize as perfect affect you - perfect music, perfect eloquence, perfect art, perfect joy, perfect grief. It stretches itself out there in the caressing sunlight, and away towards its border of majestic mountains, a crisped and radiant plain of water of the divinest blue that can be imagined. All the blues are there, from the faintest shoal water suggestion of the color, detectable only in the shadow of some overhanging object, all the way through, a little blue and a little bluer still, and again a shade bluer till you strike the deep, rich Mediterranean splendor which breaks the heart in your bosom, it is so beautiful.
And the mountains, as you skim along on the steamboat, how stately their forms, how noble their proportions, how green their velvet slopes, how soft the mottlings of sun and shadow that play about the rocky ramparts that crown them, how opaline the vast upheavals of snow banked against the sky in the remoteness beyond - Mont Blanc and others - how shall anybody describe? Why, not even a painter can quite do it, and the most the pen can do is to suggest.'
L'Abbaye, Talloires, by HedgehogCycling
Talloires is on the east side of Lake Annecy, below the rocky peaks of the Dents de Lanfon.
The origin of the name Talloires is unknown, but the settlement is first mentioned in documents in the 800s. In 1018, it was given by Rudolph III of Burgundy to the monks of Savigny. The first prior of the Abbey, Germain de Talloires, lived as a hermit from 1033 to 1060, in a cave above the town. The Ermitage de St Germain is built on the approximate site of the cave.
The Abbey buildings were burned by French Revolutionaries in 1792, and later rebuilt. L'Abbaye is now a hotel, which has hosted a number of well-known guests including Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, and Richard Nixon. Twain said of the two women who had the Abbey then, 'They fed us well, they slept us well, and I wish I could have staid there a few years and got a solid rest.'
The chemist Claude Louis Berthollet (1748-1822) was born in Talloires. He discovered the composition of bleach.
Paul Cézanne painted Le Lac Bleu at Talloires. The work is in the Cortauld Institute in London.
Le Père Bise, Talloires, by HedgehogCycling
Menthon-Saint-Bernard is a little town on the shore of Lake Annecy, just north of the Roc de Chère, and at the foot of the dents de Lanfon.
This area was in the territory of the Allobroges people, before the Romans arrived in the C2nd BC.
Saint Bernard of Menthon was born in the château here, around 923. He is famous for founding the hospices which served as refuges for travellers over the Grand and Petit Saint-Bernard passes. The dogs, which were used by the canons who ran the hospices to search for travellers lost in the snow, take their name from Bernard of Menthon. They are Saint-Bernard dogs.
The current Menthon family arrived here from Bourgogne around 1190. They are still owners of the château, which dates from the C13th. (It replaced an earlier castle).
Thônes is a town at the junction between the Nom and Fier valleys.
It developed as an agricultural centre, with fairs and markets held from the 1300s. It was known for its resistance during World War II, especially from May 1942 onwards.
Today, the economy of Thônes is based on tourism, especially in the winter. It is still an agricultural centre too - associated with Reblochon cheese. Reblochon originated in this area in the C13th, and it was produced in a clandestine way. Farmers who rented fields from a landowner had to pay a sum proportionate to the amount of milk produced. On the day the landowner came to verify the quantity of milk produced, the farmer would only partly milk the cows, then finish milking after the owner had left. They made Reblochon cheese from the milk produced by the second milking. 'Reblocher' means to pinch a cow's udder again.
La Clusaz, by HedgehogCycling
La Clusaz is a village and ski resort in the Aravis mountains. The name La Clusaz means 'narrow or closed valley between two mountains'. At one time, the village was called Clusa Locus Dei, or 'God's narrow place between two mountains', a name given to it by the Abbaye de Talloires, which owned La Clusaz.
The road to La Clusaz, from Annecy and Thônes, was opened in 1902, and this allowed it to become a summer and winter resort. The first cable car was built in 1956. Famous freestyle and freeride skier Candide Thovex is from La Clusaz. There's walking and mountain biking in the summer. La Clusaz hosted World Cup parapente events in 2001 and 2003.
Mairie, le Grand Bornand, by Hedgehog Cycling
Le Grand Bornand is a village and ski resort in a valley between the Chaine des Aravis to the south east and the Massif des Bornes to the north and west. It's at an altitude of 952m, and there are two télécabines out of the village itself; more lifts serve the main related ski resort, Le Grand Bornand Chinaillon, at 1300m. Ski racer Tessa Worley comes from le Grand Bornand.
The name Bornand probably comes from the Borne stream, which runs down Vallée du Bouchet from the Pointe Percée to le Grand Bornand, plus nand or nant, meaning valley.
There are about 60 farms in the commune, and the principal product is Reblochon cheese.
A traditional chalet in le Grand Bornand has a stone-built lower storey, and the top of the building is wooden. Each chalet has its own mazot, a smaller wooden building without windows, used for storing ham, cereals, and jams.
This video shows the finish of Stage 17 of the 2004 Tour de France in le Grand Bornand:
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