Sunday, 10 July 2011

St. Barnard de Romans Abbey, France

The cyclists on the Tour de France 2010 started from Bourg de Peage on day 14 of the Tour and raced upto Mende. This was the 12th Stage of the Tour, a distance of 210.5 km or 131 miles, and it had two Category 2 and three Category 3 climbs. The stage was won by Joaquim Rodriguez. Thor Hushovd won the green jersey (the sprint points classification) back from Alessandro Petacchi while Anthony Charteau displaced Jerome Pineau as the leader in the mountain classification (polka jersey). Andy Schleck continued to wear the yellow jersey as the overall leader of the Tour, and also led in the best young rider classification (white jersey).

This was also the stage where Team Radio Shack came to the top of the standings in the Team competition. Entry to the Tour de France is by invitation, and only as a member of an invited team. Twenty-two teams of nine riders each are invited every year, making a field of 198 riders. The team prize is decided by adding up the cumulative times of the three best riders from each team. Members of the leading team wear jersey numbers in black on yellow.

The St. Barnard de Romans Abbey is located close to Bourg de Peage. Barnard was a married man in the court of Charlemagne who suddenly decided to devote himself to the service of God. He entered the monastry at Bresse and became Archbishop of Vienna in 810 AD. The Abbey of Romans was founded by St. Barnard in the 9th century on the banks of river Isere and developed over several centuries into the present beautiful building complex.

Bourg-de-Péage owes its destiny and name to the presence of the bridge over the Isère River built in the Middle Ages for the Abbey. The town acquired a solid reputation in the 19th century thanks to its production of felt hats, made from the fur of pet rabbits. The firm Maison Mossant, the largest factory, employed more than 1,200 workers at its peak and made Bourg-de- Péage the capital of hat-making. But as the use of hats went out of fashion this industry died out and new businesses related to innovative technology have sprung up.

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