Lavelanet – Narbonne (168.5 km) Click for route map
As they rode out of Lavelanet the riders were dwarfed by the string of ruined hilltop Cathar fortresses, a enduring symbol of the brutally suppressed religious struggle that took place in the Languedoc in the Middle Ages. Pictured above is the Château de Peyrepertuse, one of the most famous, but we also saw good aerial shots of other ruins, including Château de Aiguilar. I remember following this route by car many years ago. It is a fantastic ride and I would love to go there again.
After the end of the race the helicopter revisited places from our holiday in this region last year. We saw aerial shots of Narbonne, with its soaring mediaeval cathedral (one of the tallest in France); the ancient coastal bastide town of Gruissan clustered round its central ruined tower and backed by the salt pans of the Aude estuary; plus the quaint holiday chalets on stilts at Gruissan Plage (Plage des Pilotis). Initially built around 1850, when people first started sea bathing, these chalets are famous in France as a film set used for “37°2 le Matin” (also known as “Betty Blue”) directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix.
Our travels on last year’s holiday stopped at the Aude estuary. However, the circling helicopter, as well as showing places we recognised, also gave some great views South-west beyond the Etang de Sigean towards Leucate and Perpignan, with the Pyrenees in the distance. I would definitely like to explore further in this direction.
It was announced that Riccardo Riccò had tested positive after his Stage 9 win at Bagnères-de-Bigorre and his team Saunier Duval had withdrawn the remainder of their riders from the Tour.
RESULTS (British riders in italics)
Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia)
2nd Sylvain Chavanel – 3rd Gert Steegmans
YELLOW (individual) – Cadel Evans (Silence – Lotto)
2nd Frank Schleck – 3rd Christian Vandevelde
GREEN (points) – Óscar Freire (Team Columbia)
2nd Kim Kirchen – 3rd Thor Hushovd
5th Mark Cavendish
POLKA DOT (climber) – Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner)
2nd Bernhard Kohl – 3rd Frank Schleck
WHITE (under 25) – Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas)
2nd Roman Kreuziger – 3rd Maxime Monfort
COMBATIVE – Mark Cavendish (Team Columbia)
LEADING TEAM – Team CSC Saxo Bank