Taste of the Tour: Chocolate con churros in Spain, Andorra

ARCALIS, Andorra (AP) A gastronomical, sporting and cultural glance at Stage 9 of the Tour de France on Sunday:

Region: Raced from start to finish outside France, the stage began in Vielha Val d'Aran in the Spanish province of Lerida and concluded with an uphill finish at Arcalis in the principality of Andorrra.

Baguette and butter: Defending champion Chris Froome held on to the yellow jersey and eliminated several of his main rivals in the toughest stage in the Pyrenees. Dutch rider Tom Dumoulin won the ninth leg with a solo breakaway in a hailstorm on the uphill finish, a beyond-category climb. Two-time champion Alberto Contador pulled out with a fever midway through the stage. Among those who couldn't keep up with Froome on the final climb were French favorite Romain Bardet, top American hope Tejay van Garderen and Fabio Aru of Italy.

Plat du jour: Escudella, an Andorran stew made with meatballs containing a mix of pork, veal and chicken combined with vegetables and local Trumfa potatoes.

Culture: Beginning in the small village of Llorts, the Ruta del Ferro (Iron Road) is a 4-kilometer (2.5-mile) pathway that traces the history of the metallurgy industry in Andorra. Well before the principality became known for its favorable tax system, metallurgy was a key industry from the 17th to the late 19th century. Coal works and forges can be admired along the route, either by foot or on horseback.

Vin du jour: Ratassia, a sweet artisanal liquor with a light brown color made with walnuts and hand-picked medicinal herbs. Local farmers let the herbs macerate in alcohol for 40 days in the sun. It can be enjoyed either as a digestive or as an aperitif with ice.

Stat of the Day: 11. Eleven riders in this Tour live in Andorra: Joaquim Rodriguez, Simon Gerrans, Rui Costa, Rohan Dennis, Luis Leon Sanchez, Luke Durbridge, Angel Vicioso, Dan Martin, Dani Moreno, Leigh Howard and Ruben Plaza. ''It's a fantastic place to live quietly with a family and train with a lot of mountains around,'' said Gerrans, who moved from Monaco a year ago and whose home was along the stage route.

Quote of the Day: ''''We went through all states. In the valley, the heat was suffocating. Then in the finale, it was apocalyptic.'' Frenchman Romain Bardet, on the sudden changes in the weather conditions.

Dessert (or breakfast): ''Chocolate con churros'' is a classic in Spain. Locals enjoy these long fritters covered with sugar at any time of the day, dipping them in a cup of hot, thick chocolate.

Next order: Monday is the race's first rest day. Then there is one more stage in the Pyrenees on Tuesday, a 197-kilometer (122-mile) leg from Escaldes-Engordany, Andorra, to Revel, France.

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