Ciaran Fahey, The Associated Press, July 18, 2018
LE GRAND-BORNAND, France (AP) — On the second day of racing in the Alps, Tour de France riders take on a relatively short stage but their legs will still strain to overcome several peaks before an unforgiving 18-kilometer climb to the tourist resort of La Rosiere.
The stage begins in Albertville, which hosted the Winter Olympics in 1992 and is home to the French ski team. Though the city is synonymous with winter sport, it also has a long association with cycling through riders such as Paul Guiguet (six Tours from 1947 to 1952), Joseph "Pino" Carletti (1973) and Michel Bibollet (1985 and 1988).
Known for its breathtaking views, the area was once part of the historical territory of Savoy, now shared between France, Italy and Switzerland.
Local specialties include diot and pormonier sausages, polenta (cornmeal), limoncello, cheeses like Beaufort and tome des Bauges, and of course, wine.
Here's a gastronomic, sporting and cultural glance at the route for Stage 11 on Wednesday:
BAGUETTE AND BUTTER: The shortest of three Alpine legs at 108.5-kilometers (67 miles), this stage should be an intense jostle for the yellow jersey, with Greg Van Avermaet not expected to maintain his lead.
PLAT DU JOUR: Inspired by tartiflette, croziflette is the ideal dish to warm cold bodies and bring strength back to weary bones after the strains of cycling or skiing in the mountains. Tartiflette has reblochon cheese, ham and bacon, cream, onions and potatoes, but in croziflette the potatoes are replaced by crozets — the local square pasta.
CULTURE: The region is well known for its hospitality and this extends to a multitude of festivals held throughout the year, including the Alpine gardens festival in May, the bicycle festival in June, military music and jazz festivals in July, the medieval festival in Conflans in August, and a travel festival in October.
VIN DU JOUR: Savoy is known for its white wines. Most of the vineyards lie southeast of Savoy's historical capital of Chambery, where white, red and rose wines are produced. Roussette, a white wine made from Altesse grapes, is produced further north near Annecy.
HISTORY: The last two starts in Albertville inspired French winners. Pierre Rolland capitalized on the short format of the day's stage to win at La Toussuire-Les Sybelles in 2012. Four years later, Romain Bardet won the stage at Saint-Gervais Mont Blanc to establish his second place finish overall.
STAT OF THE DAY: 4 — The number of times Chris Froome has worn the yellow jersey after the Tour's first mountain stage — in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017. Froome went on to win each of those Tours. But he didn't take the lead after the first climbing leg on Tuesday.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I give myself zero chance for tomorrow." Greg Van Avermaet, speaking on Tuesday, on keeping the yellow jersey after Stage 11.
DIGESTIF: Genepi, named after an Alpine flower that blooms on the area's high slopes, is a traditional herbal liqueur known for its medicinal qualities. The flower is picked around Aug. 15 when the snows melt enough at altitudes above 2,000 meters to let it bloom.
NEXT ORDER: Stage 12 on Thursday, the final stage in the Alps, is a "classic in the making," according to Tour director Christian Prudhomme. The 175.5-kilometer route departs from the ski resort of Les Arcs (Bourg-Saint-Maurice) and culminates in the 21 bends on the famous climb to Alpe d'Huez.
Associated Press writers Andrew Dampf and Joseph Wilson contributed.
More Tour de France coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/TourdeFrance
Copyright (2018) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.