Stage 20 – Paris Bound

by Jeanne


(AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Another great morning of racing. My heart was breaking for Michael Rasmussen who had the worst day due to two crashes and having to switch out bikes four times. Today’s final top 10 represents the strength of US cycling: (aside from Armstrong) CSC’s Bobby Julich, Phonak’s Floyd Landis, Discovery’s George Hincapie and not to be overlooked is GST’s Levi Leipheimer. I love the image above. Lance the family man. The girlfriend is yapping, the kids are excited and Dad is listening to his IPOD. See, he is normal! A remarkable day–I’m getting all choked up–and I’m not sure why! Time now to get out on the bike. Tomorrow we roll in to Paris!

St-Etienne to St-Etienne Distance: 55km/34mi


The Rhone-Alps region lies nestled beneath the impressive flanks of Mont Blanc, Europe’s highest peak at 15,771 feet, and a protector to the region’s borders with Switzerland and Italy. Today’s time trial, which is a loop, is held in St-Etienne, which is more of an industrial town focused on electronics and industrial engineering. It is located about 45 miles from what could arguably called the gastronomic capital of France and third largest city, Lyon. Where you’d find more of a range of dining options.

After all it was here that the three-Michelin starred chef Pierre Gagnaire went bankrupt due to "questionable financial advice, a multimillion-franc debt incurred to upgrade and expand his modest St-Etienne restaurant into a showplace worthy of three stars (it already had two, awarded in 1986). The gastronomically desolate location certainly didn’t help.

Forez is a region where gastronomy holds a significant place: fishing, hunting, and breeding are the base of a fine and tasty cuisine. Poultry, crayfish and trout enter in the preparation of many dishes.

The quality of butcher’s meat in St-Etienne is exceptional. Forez cold cuts or salaison also include (ham, meat pie and sausage. Local food specialties, such as a barabans salad prepared with dandelions and diced bacon fat; La râpée, grated raw potatoes mixed with whole eggs, cream, salt, and pepper that are then fried in oil or butter and a potato stew flavored with thyme and bay leaves called barboton. It’s here where the matefaim (hunger stopper), a thick and fried pancake is offered.  Traditionally made of rye flour and lightly salted water today it is made with wheat flour, milk, egg and sugar–an oversized crepe!

Lyon, as you might imagine offers a wider choice. as it is home to several world renowned grands chefs including Paul Bocuse, Pierre Orsi, Jean-Paul Lacome. In additional well known professional cooking schools like the Institut Vatel and Paul Bocuse School of Culinary Arts are based here. Local specialties include Andouillette de Lyon (sausage made out of pork chitterlings and marinated with white wine), Quenelles (light dumpling made of fish), and Rosette de Lyon (dry sausage made from leg of pork). Lyon is also known for regional cheeses, such as Saint Marcellin, and locally made chocolates and candies, called Coussins de Lyon (marzipan sweets shaped and decorated like cushions).

Warm Salad of Ratte Potatoes with Richeranches Truffles (Jean-Paul Lacombe)