Taste of the Tour: Charcuterie, Malbec in the Midi-Pyrenees

MONTAUBAN, France (AP) A gastronomical, sporting and cultural glance at Stage 6 of the Tour de France on Thursday:

Region: The stage began in Arpajon-sur-Cere in the Cantal region and followed a rolling 190.5-kilometer (118-mile) route to Montauban in the southwestern region of Tarn-et-Garonne, part of the Midi-Pyrenees.

Aperitif: Salers, a refreshing and light yellow-green colored liqueur made with gentian roots.

Baguette and butter: On a day when the temperature soared to 36 degrees (97 F), British sprinter Mark Cavendish used all of his tactical experience to win his third stage of this Tour and his 29th overall in cycling's biggest race. Cavendish beat German sprinter Marcel Kittel by half a wheel, with fellow British rider Daniel McLay third. Greg van Avermaet of Belgium kept the yellow jersey.

Plat du jour: A plate of local charcuterie: liver pate, blood sausages, cured ham, foie gras and fritons (bits of fried pork rind).

Culture: Aurillac, the delightful capital of the Cantal department located near Arpajon-sur-Cere, hosts an international festival of street theater for four days each August. Having celebrated the 30th edition last year, festival organizers have labeled this year the ''30 bis'' in order to extend the celebration. The festival is always a wild open-air party.

Vin du jour: The most famous grape variety from near Montauban is Malbec, a full-bodied red with flavors of tobacco and berry fruits leading to a silky finish. It pairs perfectly with an entrecote steak.

History: Frenchman Jacky Durand won the previous stage that concluded in Montauban in 1998. Built mostly with red brick, Montauban is also the home of French cycling great Laurent Jalabert.

Stat of the Day: 16. It's the first time all 198 riders are still in the race at this stage in 16 years.

Quote of the Day: ''There's a reason people like that are commentating on the race and not team managers.'' Mark Cavendish when asked after his third stage win of this year's Tour about pre-race prognostications favoring Marcel Kittel and Andre Greipel in the sprints.

Dessert: Boulet de Montauban, ''Montauban cannonballs,'' are each filled with one grilled hazelnut wrapped in chocolate with sugar on top.

Next order: Stage 7 Friday offers the first taste of the Pyrenees. It's a 162.5-kilometer (101-mile) leg from L'Isle-Jourdain to Lac de Payolle featuring the legendary Col d'Aspin climb shortly before the finish. Overall favorites Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana should be a factor.

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