LE PUY-EN-VELAY, France (AP) — After 2,600 kilometers (1,600 miles) of racing, the Tour de France has saved a few of its greatest gastronomic and cultural treats for final. Oh, and let’s not overlook the race: Deliciously poised for the ultimate week, with the highest 4 riders separated by lower than 30 seconds.

From the beginning in Le Puy-en-Velay, the place tasty inexperienced lentils are king, Stage 16 on Tuesday zips into chestnut nation, within the Ardeche area, and finishes simply east of the River Rhone, in a wine-producing space that sources a few of France’s most drinkable reds.

This is a sporting, gastronomic and cultural information to the 165-kilometer (102-mile) trek to Romans-sur-Isere that would come as a little bit of a shock to riders’ methods after their hard-earned relaxation day in Le Puy on Monday.

BAGUETTE AND BUTTER: With a four.5-kilometer (2.5-mile) climb on the outset and different bumps to barter earlier than the plunge down into the Rhone Valley, Stage 16 will rapidly make riders overlook, maybe even remorse, their day of taking it simple. Some riders all the time discover the post-rest day a problem. How robust will rely on whether or not the peloton is within the temper for exhausting racing earlier than Wednesday’s ascent into the Alps. Race chief Chris Froome’s Staff Sky will doubtless be pleased to let riders low down within the total standings, who aren’t a menace to his yellow jersey, break free in a hunt for the stage victory. However the flat last part will enchantment to sprinters, and their groups will work to place them for what’s going to doubtless be a mad sprint on the finish for the road.

PLAT DU JOUR: Plump, nut-flavored Ardeche chestnuts are used each as a staple, say to exchange potatoes, and in desserts, and chestnut flour is baked as bread. Roasted or boiled in milk, chestnuts are additionally historically served as one of many accompaniments to a Christmas turkey or different hen. Candy chestnut paste, manufactured industrially and by many smaller artisans, is one in every of life’s easy pleasures, so good it may be eaten alone or dolloped into yoghurt to remodel it right into a deal with. Additionally broadly utilized in cake-making and ice cream. Chestnut liqueur is nice, too.

HISTORY: The Ardeche chestnut trade traces its historical past to the 13th century. The plantations are a marvel unto themselves, with historical dry-stone partitions constructed way back to type terraces for the timber with their distinctive broad leaves. At its peak within the 1860s, the trade was producing 40,000 tons of chestnuts yearly. However tastes modified and plenty of plantations had been deserted and allowed to develop wild as farming households moved to cities. The Ardeche stays the most important chestnut-farming area, with its annual manufacturing of 5,000 tons accounting for half of the French complete.

VIN DU JOUR: Not like their predecessors, trendy Tour riders do not drink and race on the similar time. They may wish to rethink that clean-living philosophy as they pace by the Rhone Valley. Its famed reds embrace Crozes-Hermitage, the most important appellation in northern Rhone. Grapes from the syrah selection cultivated on wealthy soils produce this mild wine with a fragile nostril and delicate tannins.

FROMAGE: The feed zone of Stage 16, the place riders decide up luggage of vitality bars and different race gas, is within the Ardeche village of Saint-Felicien. The creamy cow’s milk cheese of the identical identify comes not from there however from additional east, largely produced within the Rhone and Isere areas. As an alternative, Saint-Felicien’s native cheese — the “caille doux” — is created from goat’s milk.

NEXT ORDER: Stage 17 on Wednesday from La Mure to Serre Chevalier within the Alps is a monster, with 4 climbs — two of them to above 2,000 meters (6,500 toes) in altitude. They embrace the ascent to the Col du Galibier, one of many Tour’s most fearsome and famed climbs.

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