Stage 16: Vaison-la-Romaine > Gap

Today the Tour leaves Provence and heads to the Alps. Remember how people were saying the race was all but over in the first week, but then we had some spine-tinglingly exciting stages? Well, even if you believe Froome has wrapped up the yellow jersey, tied a ribbon around it and written the Congratulations card to himself, there will likely still be contests worth seeing as teams fight for stage wins and future sponsorships.

The stage itself is a punchy 168km with three climbs. The Cat 3 Côte de la Montagne de Bluye is early on at 17.5 km – riders will start the climb at the 11.8km mark – and the first of the Cat 2 climbs, the Col de Macuègne, is at 48km. The final climb  – the Cat 2 Col de Manse – comes after the first descent into Gap.

We’ll be judging whether the start town of Vaison-la-Romaine is truly worthy of 100 most beautiful detours of France. Hello, Route Barrée… Our helpful hotel manager has furnished us with a map, translated the shuttle bus instructions and given us advice on when to present ourselves for breakfast and leave. I’m not sure that we are going to try to leave enough time to sample the olive sausage, though.

Is there a chance of cows today? Signs point to “yes”, as we are entering the region of those fabulous alpine cheeses. In fact, the official site notes that Gap is home to Tomme, a semi-hard cheese made from the milk left over from butter- and full-cream cheese-making. Well, it’s home to one of the many versions of this alpine cheese, at least. You should be able to pick up a tomme from your local cheesemonger, but if they are offering Tomme de Savoie, save that for later in the alps! Where there’s a cows milk cheese, there be cows… although (and I feel as though I should have made a macro for this statement this tour) there are no breeds specific to this area. Let’s look out for some likely milkers – extra points for bells.

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Image: Methow Bikes France

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