A guide to the Tour de France
Jasper Stuyven was interviewed after narrowly failing to make it up the final climb on Stage 14, to Mende aerodrome, in first place. 'It's really hard for me with my 80kg. I just didn't have any acceleration on the steep part.' I've felt the same way, often.
I like it when we get interviews with riders who are not Chris Froome or Tom Dumoulin. The Stage 14 podcast did rather degenerate into an endless discussion about the dynamics of the Froome-Thomas relationship, though. I say endless, but of course that's within the context of a 41-minute programme.
Plus, to be fair, we heard from Primoz Roglic, who was the best of the GC riders in Mende. 'Of course it's not much, 8s, but better to gain 8s than lose 8s.' He says there's no pressure on him, but he wants to race.
Bradley Wiggins was ITV4's guest during the early part of live coverage of yesterday's stage, and again today.
He is an interesting guest, but his comments on the so-called Jiffy bag affair were unsatisfactory. 'There's things have have come to light with this whole thing, that we've found out since, that is quite scary actually. It's very sinister. And we're still not at the bottom of it. We're finding stuff out daily, and it's to do with the package that never was, and all this stuff, and it's quite frightening actually.
There's a few people bricking it at the moment, I know for sure. So we'll see. We'll see. I hope it comes out of its own accord really. But it's in a lot...certain people's interests for it not to come out, and get buried. I don't know. It's all gone very quiet at the moment.'
I'm not going to make any judgement about whether it was right to use triamcinolone. Just on Wiggins's comments yesterday, I don't think you should try to get people on your side with secret facts that you don't tell them.
Maybe there is some sort of Tintin-style criminal conspiracy, perhaps Brad does have a white dog, and it could be that Dave Brailsford has characteristics that resemble those of Captain Haddock. The secret squirrels at British Cycling would take the part of Professor Calculus, and Damian Collins could be both Thomson and Thompson.
Still, the rule should be, tell the story by all means; don't say that there is a fascinating story in which I'm the hero, but it's more than my job's worth to tell you the plot.
One more thing. (Yes, I've switched from Tintin to Columbo). I think Wiggins said there was never a Jiffy bag, just an envelope. The words 'Jiffy bag' may have been a key part of capturing the public's imagination - because 'Jiffy' contains the word 'iffy.' It's just a theory.
Speaking of jobsworths, I can't tell you what happened in the last two episodes of Avondetappe. NPO's TV player has just decided that that is also secret, and locked me out, blaming me for being in the wrong country.
In NPO's tech department is the virtual equivalent of an analogue nightclub bouncer; in this metaphor, I'm left banging on the door, shouting, 'what's wrong with my trainers?'
Bauke Mollema was third today. He comes across as an honest, decent, and likeable guy. He's not a sprinter, so when he neared the line with two other riders, third was always the likely result. Maybe another chance will come his way, on a harder stage.
Correct predictions of stage winners on this website: 2 out of 15
Stage 16 of the Tour de France 2018 is 218km from Carcassonne to Bagnères-de-Luchon. The climbs are loaded towards the end of the stage, and they include the Col de Portet-d'Aspin, the Col de Menté, and the Col du Portillon.
Read about Stage 16 of the 2018 Tour de France.
Millau is a town in the Aveyron département, on the river Tarn at its confluence with the Dourbie. It is part of the Grands Causses limestone hills.
There were Celtic and Roman settlements nearby, but it was at the time of the Barbarian invasions (C4th and C5th) that a town was built at the present location of Millau.
Historically, Millau was known for its tanneries, producing leather gloves, particularly sheepskin gloves. Another local agricultural product is Roquefort cheese, made from raw sheep's milk.
The most famous landmark here is the Viaduc de Millau, the world's tallest cable-stayed road bridge. It carries the A75 across the valley of the river Tarn.
Millau is twinned with Bridlington (UK).
Mazamet is a town on the little river Arnette, and on the northern slopes of the Montagne Noire.
The traditional industries which continue today are wool, socks, leather, gloves, and military clothing.
Laurent Jalabert was born in Mazamet.
The Montagne Noire is a mountainous area split between the Tarn and Aude départements.
The northern side is steeper, and covered in forests of oak, beech, pine and spruce. This northern side could be the origin of the mountain's name ('black'). On the less steep southern slopes, there are holm oaks, olive trees, vines, pines, and garrigue - Mediterranean scrub. From the south side, there are great views of the Pyrenees.
Wild animals living here include roe deer, wild boar, hares, and rabbits.
There are lakes on the Montagne Noire, which serve as reservoirs for the Canal du Midi.
The Pic de Nore is the highest point of the Montagne Noire, at 1,211m. It has a TV and radio transmitter on the top.
Carcassonne is a town of 46,724 people in the département of the Aude, on the river Aude and the Canal du Midi. It's dominated by the Medieval château surrounded by ramparts, la Cité de Carcassonne.
According to legend, it got its name from Carcas, the wife of a Saracen king. The Saracens in the city were beseiged by Charlemagne. The king of the Saracens was captured and put to death. His wife, Carcas, continued to hold out. Her soldiers were dying of starvation, so she put scarecrows on the ramparts, and changed their hats ever 2 hours, to make it look as though the sentries were changing over. Then she killed the last remaining pig, stuffed its belly with the last of the corn, and threw it over the walls. When it landed, the belly burst open to reveal the corn. Charlemagne's soldiers were amazed. They thought that even after the long seige, the Saracens were feeding their pigs with corn. Defeated, they packed up and began to leave. Carcas had the victory trumpets sounded, and Charlmagne's soldiers said 'Ecoutez, Carcas sonne' (listen, Carcas is sounding [the trumpets]). So the town got its name. Probably.
Carcassonne started as a Roman camp in the C1st AD. The Visigoths captured it as the Roman Empire crumbled, and it became part of the Visigoth kingdom of Toulouse. In 725, the Saracens took it from the Visigoths, and in 759, the Saracens were defeated by the Franks, under Pepin the Short.
Carcassonne belonged to the Counts of Toulouse, within the Frankish Empire, from the 800s to the 1200s. Peace and prosperity was disrupted from 1208, with the Albigensian Crusades. Catharism was a dualistic form of Christianity - there was a spiritual world ruled by God, and a material world governed by Satan. Cathars were regarded as heretics by the Roman Catholic church. When a Papal legate was assassinated in 1208, the Pope began a Crusade against the Cathars in the south west of France. In 1209, the Viscount of Carcassonne was defeated by Simon de Montfort.
The King of France exiled the inhabitants of Carcassonne for 7 years, and at the end of this time, he allowed them to build a fortified new town, or ville bastide, known as the Ville Basse (to the west of the river Aude), and to repair and strengthen the original fortress (to the east of the Aude). The fortress to the east of the river is what is known as la Cité de Carcassonne, and is the largest Medieval fortress in Europe. It was restored by Viollet-le-Duc in the C19th.
La Cité has a double curtain wall, with 14 towers on the outer wall, and 24 towers on the inner wall. Inside is the C12th Château Comtal, which was the home of the viscounts of Carcassonne, and the Basilique Saint-Nazaire, begun in 1096 in a Romanesque style, and completed in the 1200s and 1300s in a Gothic style.
Il ne faut pas mourir sans avoir vu Carcassonne
Je me fais vieux, j'ai soixante ans;
J'ai travaillé toute ma vie,
Sans avoir, durant tout ce temps,
Pu satisfaire mon envie.
Je vois bien qu'il n'est ici bas
De bonheur complet pour personne.
Mon voeu ne s'accomplira pas:
Je n'ai jamais vu Carcassonne.
On voit la ville de là-haut,
Derrière les montagnes bleues:
Mais pour y parvenir il faut,
Il faut faire cinq grandes lieues;
En faire autant pour revenir!
Ah! si la vendange était bonne!
Le raisin ne veut pas jaunir:
Je ne verrai pas Carcassonne.
On dit qu'on y voit tous les jours,
Ni plus ni moins que les dimanches,
Des gens s'en aller sur les tours,
En habits neuf, en robes blanches,
On dit qu'on y voit des châteaux
Grands comme ceux de Babylone,
Un évêque et deux généraux!
Je ne connais pas Carcassonne!
Le vicaire a cent fois raison.
C'est des imprudents que nous sommes,
Il disait dans son oraison
Que l'ambition perd les hommes.
Si je pouvais trouver pourtant
Deux jours sur la fin de l'automne...
Mon Dieu que je mourrai content,
Après avoir vu Carcassonne!
Mon Dieu, mon Dieu, pardonnez-moi
Si ma prière vous offense;
On voit toujours plus haut que soi,
En vieillesse comme en enfance.
Ma femme avec mon fils Aignan,
A voyagé jusqu'à Narbonne:
Mon filleul a vu Perpignan.
Et je n'ai pas vu Carcassonne!
Ainsi chantait, près de Limoux,
Un paysan courbé par l'âge.
Je lui dis: 'Ami, levez-vous,
Nous allons faire le voyage'
Nous partîmes le lendemain;
Mais - que le Bon Dieu lui pardonne -
Il mourut à moitié chemin.
Il n'a jamais vu Carcassonne.
Il ne verra pas Carcassonne.
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