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TASTE OF THE TOUR: Mussels, fries and cobbles in Roubaix
Jul 14

Associated Press writers

AMIENS, France (AP) _ After a bumpy ride on the cobblestones to Roubaix, settle your stomach down with some moules-frites (mussels and fries), beer and a cheese dedicated to _ what else? _ the ``pave.'' That's French for cobbles.

The ninth stage of the Tour de France on Sunday may be only an entree for French fans watching their national team in the World Cup final later the same day, but for the 170 riders still competing in cycling's biggest race, it's the most significant test of the opening week.

Following a similar route of the Paris-Roubaix spring classic , the road to Roubaix takes riders over 15 troublesome cobblestone sections _ the highest number since the 1980 Tour, with nearly 22 kilometers (13.7 miles) altogether.

The 156.5-kilometer (97-mile) leg begins at the 17th-century Citadel of Arras and travels a winding route to Roubaix on the Belgian border.

The citadel is nicknamed ``La belle inutile'' (the beautiful useless one) since the town was never really invaded, and it didn't prevent the Germans from occupying the town in both world wars. Still, it's designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site together with other fortifications in the area designed by Vauban.

An outside wall of the citadel, ``Le Mur des Fusilles'' (the firing squad wall), is a memorial to the 218 French Resistance members shot to death in a citadel ditch during World War II.

Sunday's stage is followed by the Tour's first rest day on Monday.

Here's a gastronomical, sporting and cultural glance at Stage 9:

BAGUETTE AND BUTTER: Expect a major shakeup in the overall standings and a cobblestone specialist like reigning Paris-Roubaix champion Peter Sagan or 2017 winner Greg Van Avermaet to win the stage. With a dry forecast, the roads might not be as slippery as usual but they will be quite dusty. Van Avermaet will be favored to hold on to the yellow jersey.

PLAT DU JOUR: Moules-frites. Getting this close to Belgium, mussels and fries make the dish of choice. So grab one of those big metal bowls, and another for the shells, add some mayonnaise to the fries, and dig in.

Another dish made in Roubaix is fricadelle (corn dog sausage), which is also served with fries.

CULTURE: The fifth from last section of cobbles travels through Templeuve, which is known as the ``the witches town'' for a series of witchcraft trials in the 17th century. Templeuve is also home to the Moulin de Vertain (Vertain windmill), a landmark of Paris-Roubaix.

VIN DU JOUR: A variety of interesting beers are brewed near Roubaix, such as Jeanlain, Trois Monts and Saint Landelin.

STAT OF THE DAY: 5 _ The number of riders who have won Paris-Roubaix who will compete in Sunday's stage: Niki Terpstra (2014), John Degenkolb (2015), Mathew Hayman (2016), Van Avermaet (2017) and Sagan (2018).

QUOTE OF THE DAY: ``Tomorrow is going to be stressful'' _ Sagan on the Roubaix stage.

FROMAGE: Pave de Roubaix. Created in the beginning of the 20th century in homage to the Paris-Roubaix cobbles, this cow's-milk cheese with orange flesh was bought by the workers of the textile industry who let it age in their basements because it was cheaper than mimolette cheese from nearby Lille . It features a buttery caramel and nutty taste.

NEXT ORDER: Monday's rest day allows the Tour to transfer nearly 800 kilometers (500 miles) down to the Alps. Stage 10 on Tuesday is a 158.5-kilometer (98.5-mile) leg from Annecy to Le Grand-Bornand featuring three category 1 climbs and one beyond-category ascent.


More Tour de France coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/TourdeFrance

By The Associated Press, Copyright 2019