A guide to the Tour de France
On a recent podcast, François Thomazeau was reflecting on the allocation of hotels for the rest day in Carcassonne. 'Team Sky is in the Campanile - the richest team is in the poorest, most miserable hotel.'
One of the Cycling Podcast's many talents is finding sponsors, and that enables them to make a business out of their cycling coverage. I tip my hat to them for that. There's Rafa, and Harry's razors, and Skoda, and Bora Hansgrohe, and Science in Sport and I don't know who else.
Is is safe to assume that Campanile will not be joining the roster soon?
There was a super-happy from John Degenkolb.
At one point on the final climb, Robert Gesink and Domenico Pozzovivo were in the lead. Ned Boulting (short, as you may know, for Edmumd Lionel de Redpepper van Salad della Boultinggiuno) said that Pozzovivo has 'thick-set legs for a climber' which enabled him to respond to Gesink's 'micro-accelerations'. Della Boultinggiuno is very good, but he does say some odd things.
NOS Avondetappe is still spreading a little more misery around the world by locking people out of their nice programme.
I did manage to see an NOS sport interview of Wout Poels. He was asked about Gianni Moscon, and clouds darkened his sunny countenance. Poels wants to be joking around in a good-humoured way, not answering questions about darker subjects. Give him a break.
He said he feels good, and is hoping to have a good third week. It worked out that way on Stage 16: David Millar commented on the final climb, 'Wout Poels is back.'
Philippe Gilbert had a potentially dangerous crash on Stage 16, and he has abandoned the race. Nobody wants to see that, but for anyone currently nursing grazed knees and elbows, it's reassuring to know that the pros can misjudge things too.
CRASH! @PhilippeGilbert can't regain control of his bike, disappears over roadside barrier and flies into the undergrowth in the middle of this descent. He re-emerges moments later and bravely returns to the saddle. #TDF2018 pic.twitter.com/nmj0KzK55K— ITV Cycling (@itvcycling) July 24, 2018
Correct predictions of stage winners on this website: 2 out of 16
Stage 17 of the Tour de France 2018 is just 65km from Bagnères-de-Luchon to the Col de Portet.
Read about Stage 17 of the 2018 Tour de France.
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.
Pamiers is the largest city in the Ariège (but not the capital of the département - that's Foix). The seat of the Bishop of Pamiers is at the Cathedral.
The name of the city may come from Apamea in Syria, where Roger II of Foix took part in a battle during the Crusades. He named a castle here after Apamea, according to this theory.
Three bell towers mark the skyline of Pamiers. The main square is called place de la République, and it is paved with red marble. Farmers' markets are held there three times a week.
The composer Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) was born in Pamiers.
La Grotte du Maz-d'Azil is a large cave which was hollowed out by the action of the river Arize. A road (the D119) passes through the main part of the cave.
The remains of animals that lived in the cave in prehistoric times have been found, including mammoths and woolly rhinos. There are also traces of prehistoric people who inhabited the cave from 17,000 to 12,000 years ago.
Saint-Girons is a town in the Ariège département. It is on the river Salat, at its confluence with le Lez.
Historically, the town belonged to the Viscounts of Couseran.
Saint-Girons is in the region of 18 valleys. It is 2km from Saint-Lizier, which belongs to the association of the most beautiful villages in France.
Saint-Béat is a village in a stunning location by the river Garonne. Its proximity to the river also leaves it vulnerable to flooding.
Saint-Béat is known for its white marble quarries. The marble was used for some of the statues in the gardens of the Palace of Versailles.
There's a C12th fort, which controlled passage through the narrow Garonne valley here.
Above Saint-Béat, on the Tuc de l'Etang mountain, is the ski resort of le Mourtis (1,450m).
Bagnères-de-Luchon is sometimes called 'the Queen of the Pyrenees'. It's a spa resort, and has a ski resort, Superbagnères.
When Pompey was in the area in 76BC, one of his soldiers who was suffering with a skin complaint came and bathed in the thermal waters here, and after 21 days, he was right as rain. In 25BC, the Romans built three baths, which were called balneum lixonense post Neapolitense primum (the best baths after those of Naples).
The baths were relaunched at the end of the 1700s, attracting European royalty and aristocracy. The arrival of the railway in 1873, and the opening of a casino in 1880, increased the popularity of Bagnères-de-Luchon.
Bagnères-de-Luchon has the priviledge of being twinned with Harrogate, North Yorkshire (UK).
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