A guide to the Tour de France
The Cycling Podcast's occasionally parochial Frenchman François Thomazeau stopped talking up French riders, and reflected in an interesting way on how the Tour de France transformed Mûr-de-Bretagne yesterday. If you go back there tomorrow, he said, there'll be nothing but some paint on the road and a bit of rubbish. It's a stretch of road in the middle of nowhere. The wonder of the Tour is that it turns a place like that into something magical.'
When Bernard Hinault quit his Tour de France duties he said, Richard Moore recalled, that if he came back to the Tour it would not be as a VIP, but with his grandson by the side of the road. Moore spotted the Badger in the VIP area yesterday, lapping up the freebies.
Servais Knaven was interviewed about Team Sky's preparations for Stage 9 over the cobbles to Roubaix. They will have 40 people altogether - helpers spaced at 600m on the cobbled sections, with spare wheels, and a helper with bottles at the end of each section.
Dione de Graaf and her guests were in Carnac, with the table set up amongst the prehistoric menhirs there. These standing stones were used by ancient people for rituals based on the sun and the moon.
The programme focused on Tom Dumoulin's bad luck, after he broke his front wheel riding into Romain Bardet with just 5km or so to go. On top of that, he got a 20s penalty for draughting. The view on the Avondetappe was that Astana should have got a penalty too, since they used their team car to get Jakob Fuglsang back to the peloton earlier in the day.
Dumoulin stopped on the left hand side of the road, when apparently you normally stop on the right - then the team mechanic jumps out of the passenger seat on that side, and helps you straight away.
Directeur sportif Tom Veelers said it was a small disappointment, but tried to downplay it. He seemed to accept the 20s penalty, and said Tom D might have lost 20s anyway if they hadn't helped him get back.
Rob Harmeling contrasted Dumoulin's demeanour afterwards - clearly very disappointed - with Froome the other day when he lost time. The Kenyan-born Brit said, 'that's bike racing' and got on with looking ahead. Harmeling felt that Froome's approach is that of a winner. What he doesn't know is that Tom Dumoulin is carrying out some rituals based on the moon and the sun, and the luck of the ancient gods will be with him from now on.
Daniel Friebe made an interesting film for ITV4 about their multiple leaders. Was it crazy to have three leaders, he asked Movistar manager Eusebio Unzué? Unzué said that after the first nine stages, at least they would have one man still standing.
Dimension Data rode intelligently, and Mark Cavendish got himself into a great position near the finish line in Chartres. If he had had the legs of a couple of years ago, he would have won - but he didn't. The Tour's not over yet, though. As Mark Renshaw said, they have another chance tomorrow, then they go into survival mode for a while.
It was a great performance from Dylan Groenewegen. He waited until the final stage to take a win last year. Having got one on Stage 7 this time, he might be confident of winning more than once.
Correct predictions of stage winners on this website: 2 out of 7
Stage 8 of the Tour de France 2018 is 181km from Dreux to Amiens. It's another sprinters' day, but one that could be affected by gusty winds.
Read about Stage 8 of the 2018 Tour de France.
Fougères is named after the plants: ferns are fougères in French. It is on the river Nançon. Fougères is twinned with Ashford in Kent.
Fougères was at a Roman crossroads, but the town itself was established later, and was built in the Middle Ages: the château is first mentioned in documents in the late 900s. At that time, the château was wooden. It was destroyed by Henry II of England in 1166, but rebuilt in stone by Raoul II, Baron of Fougères. One tower of the present-day château dates back to this time, la Tour de Haye.
Fougères is on the edge of Brittany, and over the centuries, it has been caught up in many battles between the Dukes of Brittany, the Dukes of Normandy, and the Kings of France. Brittany lost its independence and became part of France in 1532.
During the French Revolution, Fougères was fought over by the Royalist Chouans of Brittany, and the Revolutionaries.
On 8th June 1944, Fougères suffered an Allied bombardment, which killed 300 people, and destroyed much of the town.
Working tin was important to the local economy in the 1500s, as was the production of glassware. Gradually, crafts were replaced by industry, with the establishment of shoe manufacturers, as well as glassware factories. Today, glass manufacture continues, alongside food processing, furniture-making, and electronics, computing, and robotics.
A small school opened in 2013 which teaches children in Breton.
Mayenne, on the river Mayenne, is the second-biggest town in the Mayenne département after Laval. It has a population of 13,000.
There was a Roman road, and a ford of the river, not far from the site of Mayenne. However, the town itself only grew up in the Middle Ages, when the Roman road was diverted to ford the river here. Around 778AD, in the time of Charlemagne, a fortress was built on a rocky promontory overlooking the ford. A town developed around the fortress.
The Château de Mayenne standing today dates largely from the C13th, but some Carolingian sections (700 or 800s) have been incorporated into the later alterations, and can be seen. The château is now an archeological museum.
The main industry in Mayenne from the 1500s or 1600s, until the early 1900s, was the production of linen. Today, the economy is diverse, and includes printing, agriculture and food production, car manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, plastics and metals, and construction. Rapido motorhomes are based in Mayenne.
Mayenne is twinned with Devizes in the UK.
Villaines-la-Juhel was on the route of a Roman road from Jublains to Lisieux. Its name comes from the Latin villana, meaning farm, and Juhel, the name of the nobleman Juhel II of Mayenne, who was granted ownership of this land in 1140.
There was a Moulinex factory in Villaines, but the troubled company had to close it.
Saint-Léonard-des-Bois is a village of about 500 people, on the river Sarthe and in the Alpes Mancelles, known for 'green tourism'. It is named after a C6th hermit, Saint Léonard, who lived here.
The Alpes Mancelles are called 'Alps' because of the steep slopes created by fluvial erosion: the river Sarthe eroded a course through the plateau here.
Slate was quarried in this area until the start of the C20th. These days, tourism includes walking and mountain bike routes, and canoe and kayak paddling on the Sarthe.
Alençon is the capital of the Orne département, and has a population of about 26,000 people.
Its relative humidity is 82.6%. I'm not sure if that's humid or not, but Wikipedia always gives information about humidity, so I thought I'd include it here.
Alençon was first mentioned in a document in the 600s. It became a dukedom in 1415, belonging to the sons of the Kings of France until the time of the Revolution.
There was a fabric industry for many years, and in the 1700s it developed into a specialisation in point d'Alençon lace. In the 1800s, there were iron foundries in and around the town, and in the 1900s, printing became a major economic activity. In the post-war period, a plastics industry arose; there's also a plastics engineering school.
Singer Daniel Balavoine (1952-86) was from Alençon.
Anthony Geslin, 88th in the 2006 Tour de France, was also born in Alençon.
The town is twinned with Basingstoke (England) and Crynant (Wales).
Mamers is a town of 5,300 people on the little river Dives, a tributary of the Orne. It's twinned with Market Rasen (UK).
Nogent-le-Rotrou is a town on the river Huisne, int he Eure-et-Loir département. The former Counts of the Perche lived here in the Château Saint-Jean.
The name Nogent means 'newly de-forested land', and Rotrou was the surname of the local nobles.
Employment in Nogent used to depend on agriculture and the textile industry. The automotive parts company Valeo is still important to the local economy, although some jobs have gone to Romania; and the German medical company B Braun Melsungen has a major plant here. There are 500 or so military personnel employed in the Sécurité Civile.
The annual Percheval Festival celebrates the Percheron horse on the weekend of Ascension.
Chartres is a town south west of Paris, which is the capital of the Eure-et-Loire département, and famous for its Cathedral.
Chartres was a town of the Celtic Carnutes tribe, and it was called Autricum under the Romans.
The Cathedral (Notre-Dame de Chartres) is one of the finest Gothic Cathedrals in France. Construction began in 1205, on the site of the previous church which had been destroyed by fire, and it was completed 66 years later. The stained glass windows were financed by local guilds of merchants and craftsmen, and their names or references to them appear at the bottom. The windows are famous for their blue sections, bleu de Chartres.
Chartres Cathedral was host to the coronation of King Henri IV in 1594 (in a period when coronations usually took place at Reims).
Narrow streets, many named after Medieval trades that were carried on in them, run down to the river Eure.
Chartres was badly damaged during World War II, as the Allies attempted to take it from the Germans in 1944, but an order to destroy the Cathedral was not acted upon by the local US Army officer, so it was spared.
There is a pilgrimage each year from Notre-Dame de Paris to Notre-Dame de Chartres, with around 15,000 pilgrims taking part and walking the 100km with flags and banners.
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