After the rest day, the sprinters should be champing at the bit to make their mark on one of the last flat stages of this year’s Tour. But, as with every other stage thus far, it won’t be quite that simple.
The race circles the ancient Roman city of Nîmes, not far from the Mediterranean coast in southeast Frace. Summers here are hot, hot, hot! Temperatures during Tuesdays’s stage are predicted to exceed 100 degrees F: hydration will be key, as will the cumulative effects of two weeks of racing.
It looks like a day for the pure sprinters, who will claw back the inevitable break-away group that is sure to form early in the day. Who will be fastest? I think it will be a war of attrition. Those riders who slept well last night and have strong team support will prevail.
With respect to team support, it will be crucial to have a constant supply of fresh water throughout the race. A few of the team directors have indicated they’re preparing 300+ bottles for distribution during Tuesday’s stage. Can you imagine?
We’ve had great weather over the first two weeks of the Tour; now we’re getting a taste of summer’s wrath. Only the strongest will thrive in the conditions today.
Nîmes – A Huge Roman Footprint on the South of France
As with many cities in Europe, the Romans came, saw, and conquered this enclave west of the Rhône River. Nîmes boasts some of the best-preserved Roman architecture, especially the amphitheater in the city center, which was built in 7 AD. A few years ago, the city built a museum dedicated to the city’s Roman roots. It’s adjacent to the ancient structure and offers multimedia presentations on everything from art to winemaking a la Romana. I’ve never been but it’s definitely on my must-see list.
Just outside the city lies one of France’s most iconic structures, featured in movies, magazines, and, of course, the travel photos of all who wander by. It’s the Pont du Gard, a stunning aqueduct with three layers. Whether you know it by name or not, you’ve most certainly seen it before. It is the tallest such structure still in existence. Watch for the peloton to cross the middle section during the race!
Tour de France by the Glass Recommendation
The Costières de Nîmes is the western-most AOC in the Southern Rhône, lying on the west bank of the Rhône River. Although summer temperatures are brutal here, cooling influences from the Petit Camargue and the Mistral ensure more comfortable evenings – for travelers and grapes!
The majority of wine made here (92%) is either red or rosé, but a small amount of white wine is made. Today I’m sipping on a 2018 Château de Fabrègues Costières de Nîmes Rosé that I bought at my local Total Wine for $14.99. It’s a blend of Syrah and Grenache, and it’s full of ripe red fruit, a touch of citrus, and an herbaceous note that hints at its birthplace. I think it’s the perfect wine for a scorchingly hot summer day. And, given that many of us in the US are suffering weather conditions as bad as those faced by the peloton today, let’s raise a glass to the riders.
We’ve got it pretty good – at least there’s air conditioning for us. And we don’t have to tie ice-filled pantyhose around our necks to stay cool!
Cheers, all! I’ll be back tomorrow as the race heads into the Alps.