Tag Archive: TMC Sports

America’s Cup: American Defenders Last Race?

The America’s Cup is down to match point in the latest battle of the billionaires for the trophy, affectionately known as the Auld Cup. The challenger from New Zealand leads the American team 6 – 1 after 8 races in this best of seven match. The race is being held in the turquoise blue waters …

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March Madness Anniversary

On this day in 1939, March Madness is born. The University of Oregon defeats The Ohio State University 46-33 on this day in 1939 to win the first-ever NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The Final Four, as the tournament became known, has grown exponentially in size and popularity since 1939. By 2005, college basketball had become …

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Just Change the Name Already

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

My suggestion: The Potomacs

Just change the damned name. It ain;t that hard and they’d be able to keep the logo.  

Overcoming The Odds

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Age, heart conditions, and traumatic events were no deterrents to achieving their goals of reaching this Summer’s Olympics games in London and for some it has earned them gold.

Swimmer Dana Vollmer overcame a heart condition to win Olympic Gold and set a couple of world records

Dana Vollmer, 2012 OlympicsAt the age of 15, already an elite swimmer, Ms. Vollmer, from Granbury, Tex., was taken to a local doctor after experiencing dizzy spells while training. Doctors discovered she had an abnormal heartbeat and set up a procedure to correct it. But they then discovered she had a genetic cardiac electrical disorder called long QT syndrome, which could lead at any moment to sudden cardiac arrest.

The diagnosis was sobering. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, each year about 2,000 people under the age of 25 die of sudden cardiac arrest in the United States, most because of long QT syndrome and other electrical and structural defects in the heart. While sudden cardiac arrest can strike those who are sedentary, the risk is up to three times as great in competitive athletes.

Such diagnoses have derailed the ambitions of many young athletes. But Ms. Vollmer and her family decided against what may have been a career-ending decision to implant a defibrillator in her heart, and instead chose – with the approval of her doctors – to allow her to continue training as long as an external defibrillator was always within reach.

In 2004 in Athens at the age of 16, Dana won her first Olympic gold in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay event. Dana didn’t qualify for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing but has since returned, renewed and refreshed overcoming her physical problems and the psychological effects that were holding her back. Monday night, she not only won the gold in the 100 meter butterfly, she did it in won in 55.98 seconds, breaking the world record. Then on Wednesday night at the Olympic Aquatic Centre, Dana Vollmer swam the second leg of the 4×200 freestyle relay, along with Missy Franklin, Shannon Vreeland, and Allison Schmitt on the last leg, the U. S. swim team won the Olympic gold medal and setting an Olympic record. The U. S. women’s team hadn’t won a swimming relay eight years at the Olympics.

Overcoming the psychological trauma of being sexual assaulted by her coach when she was 13 years old, Kayla Harrison won the first gold medal in judo for the United States.

Kayla Harrison, 2012 OlympicsIn November 2007, a man pleaded guilty in a federal court in Dayton, Ohio, to illicit sexual conduct involving a 13-year-old girl. He was a judo coach, and the girl was a student he had trained closely and brought to international tournaments. Her name was given in court papers simply as “K.H.” or “the victim.” [..]

Harrison is simply the best on the team. It helps that she is also good-natured. And that she has a story she is not afraid to tell, a story that is jarring even for a sports press that can be nearly unhinged in its pursuit of the next inspirational tale.

The questions she fielded at the end of her match, about what she was thinking on the podium, about what the medal means to her, about how this compares to her own struggles, could be wince-inducing in their coy inquiries into such a painful topic.

But she answered them all with the same composure she had just used against her opponents on the mat.

“It’s no secret,” she began, after a long pause, when a reporter asked her to name the worst moment she had to face in her career, “that I was sexually abused by my former coach. And that was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever had to overcome.”

Harrison has told her story before, first to USA Today only days after the indictment of Jerry Sandusky came down and the front pages were full of news about Penn State, sexual abuse and coaches who exploit their authority.

She said she felt it necessary to speak out so that others in her position could take heart.

Kayla is not a “victim”, she is a hero and a champion.

And for us for us seniors, who think that our time is over to be Olympic competitors  there is Equestrian Hiroshi Hoketsu of Japan the London Olympics oldest athlete:

Hiroshi Hoketsu, 2012 OlympicsThe crowd did not go wild for Hiroshi Hoketsu of Japan as he rode Whisper out on to the sand of the Greenwich Park equestrian arena at one o’clock on Thursday afternoon. It wasn’t a question of bad manners; more a question of consideration.

A stadium-sized roar to acknowledge the arrival of the Games’ oldest competitor – a ramrod-straight and dapper man of 71 – would have frightened the mare and probably embarrassed her rider.

Hoketsu, after all, had not travelled from his home in Germany to fly the flag for older athletes, nor had he come to court the sympathy vote.

He had come to London, as he went to his first games in Tokyo in 1964, and to Beijing four years ago, to compete and, hopefully, to win.

And beneath a bright sky that turned Whisper’s brown coat a dark gold, that is what he tried his best to do. [..]

His white-gloved hands keeping her on a tight rein, Whisper executed a neat diagonal cross of the arena before pausing and reversing neatly to one corner. Seven minutes later, after she had appeared to jog on the spot, skip and goose-step her way around the arena, Whisper came to a stop in front of the judges. As the first drops of rain began to fall from a greying sky, the crowd burst into applause and Hoketsu raised his hat in acknowledgement.

And with that, the oldest Olympian rode out of the arena, to finish 17th out of 24.

When he was asked about his performance and  if he would compete in Rio in four years, he blamed any errors on himself and said that competing was in doubt because of his partner Whisper’s age. He also lamented how the Olympics have changed since he started competing 48 years ago:

“The Olympic Games itself has changed a little bit,” he said. “At that time, participation was of more importance to everybody. But now I think medals are much more important, not only for athletes but also even for politics.

We salute all the champions at the Olympics.

Olympic Firsts for a Determined Champion

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

On Thursday night a diminutive 16 year old took the gold medal in Individual Gymnastics and accomplished something unique, not once but twice with the same performance. Gabrielle Christina Victoria “Gabby” Douglas, a member of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics teama member of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team, became first African-American and first woman of color in Olympic history to become the individual all-around champion and the first American gymnast to win gold in both the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics. She did it with support and encouragement from her family in Virginia Beach and her adopted family in Des Moines, Iowa where she trained under Liang Chow, the former coach of 2008 Summer Olympics gold medal-winner Shawn Johnson.

She’s not done yet. Gabby is scheduled to compete in the finals of uneven bars on August 6 and balance beam on August 7.

Fly, Gabby, fly.

Le Tour de France 2012: Stage 20 Rambouillet and Paris Champs-Élysées

The Tour de France 2012, the world’s premier cycling event kicked off last Saturday with the Prologue in Liège, Belgium and will conclude on July 22 with the traditional ride into Paris and laps up and down the Champs-Élysées. Over the next 22 days the race will take its course briefly along the Northwestern coast of France through  Boulogne-sur-Mer, Abbeville and into Rouen then into the mountains of the Jura, Swiss Alps and the Pyrenees.

Stage 20 Rambouillet, Paris and the Champs-Élysées is our last stage of 2012 Le Tour. Please be sure to click on the images to really enjoy them. Some are really spectacular. We hope everyone has enjoyed the Le Tour and its venues.

Rambouillet

Château de Rambouillet At fifty kilometres from Paris, Rambouillet is the doorway to the Haute Vallée de Chevreuse Regional Nature Park. It is like a glade in the heart of the Rambouillet forest, a forest with nearly 30,000 acres of the most wonderful flora and fauna, dotted with ponds and crossed by many footpaths, cycle tracks and bridleways. Its castle (14th-18th centuries) has seen great lords, kings, emperors and presidents pass through its doors. Francis I died there in 1547, Louis XVI built the Queen’s Dairy in the Park for Marie-Antoinette and many international conferences have been held here. Provincial in its charm and tranquility, Rambouillet, which has managed its development while preserving its natural assets, is francilien also by its economic life. Partnering the town in welcoming this final stage, Yvelines has a very strong policy for the development of a more environmentally friendly transport system, in particular the creation of a network of cycle paths and greenways and with bike lanes spread over about 750 km of its territory.

The Château de Rambouillet, a former medieval fortress, was acquired by Louis XVI of France in 1783 as a private residence because of its ideal situation in the game-rich forest of Rambouillet. It became a bien national during the French Revolution of 1789, and one of the imperial residences of Napoléon I during the First French Empire. At the time of the Bourbon Restoration, the castle became royal residence, and it is there that Charles X signed his abdication on 2 August 1830. Sometimes neglected at times of political unrest, the château de Rambouillet became the official summer residence of the French President of the Republic after President Félix Faure chose it as summer residence for himself and his family in 1896; Rambouillet thus became the official summer residence of the Presidents of the Third Republic and has retained its position ever since.

Paris and  the Champs Élysées

Paris is one of those rare cities that just about everywhere you are there is history,  it has been well preserved and you can feel it. It is truly one of the most beautiful cites in the world. I say that with some prejudice, it is my main home.

Paris at Night Paris loves the Tour de France and is delighted to welcome once again the arrival of “La Grande Boucle” to the most beautiful avenue in the world. Each year, the last act of the Tour on the Champs Élysées brings delight to Parisians and the numerous tourists from around the world who have come to encourage and applaud the Yellow Jersey and the entire peloton. This sporting celebration is also an opportunity to recall the commitment of the City of Paris to promote cycling. For ten years, 700 kilometers of bicycle lanes have been created, dedicated pathways are multiplying and quayside roads are now reserved on Sundays and public holidays for walking, cycling and sustainable transport. In addition, five years after its launch, Vélib bicycle rental system, has allowed Parisians and the inhabitants of thirty municipalities on the outskirts to take over a hundred million journeys. This popular transport service is actively involved in the fight against greenhouse gas emissions and the goal is to try to reduce them by 25% by 2020. Vélib is proof, if any were needed, of the enthusiasm aroused by “the little queen” in Paris.

Avenue des Champs-Élysées

Avenue des Champs-Élysées With its cinemas, cafés, luxury specialty shops and clipped horse-chestnut trees, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées is one of the most famous streets and one of the most expensive strips of real estate in the world. Several French monuments are also on the street, including the Arc de Triomphe and the Place de la Concorde. The name is French for Elysian Fields, the place of the blessed dead in Greek mythology. The Avenue des Champs-Élysées is known as “The most beautiful avenue in the world”, La plus belle avenue du monde in French.

The Champs-Élysées was originally fields and market gardens, until 1616, when Marie de Medici decided to extend the axis of the Tuileries Garden with an avenue of trees. As late as 1716, Guillaume Delisle’s map of Paris shows that a short stretch of roads and fields and market garden plots still separated the grand axe of the Tuileries gardens from the planted “Avenue des Thuilleries,” which was punctuated by a circular basin where the Rond-point des Champs-Élysées stands today; already it was planted with some avenues of trees to the Seine river through woods and fields. In 1724, the Tuileries Garden axis and the avenue were connected and extended, leading beyond the Place de l’Étoile; the “Elysian Fields” were open parkland flanking it, soon filled in with bosquets of trees formally planted in straight rank and file. To the east, the unloved and neglected “Vieux Louvre” (as it is called on the maps), still hemmed in by buildings, was not part of the axis. In a map of 1724, the Grande Avenue des Champs-Elisée stretches west from a newly-cleared Place du Pont Tournant soon to be renamed for Louis XV and now the Place de la Concorde. By the late 18th century, the Champs-Élysées had become a fashionable avenue; the bosquet plantings on either side had thickened enough to be given formal rectangular glades (cabinets de verdure). The gardens of houses built along the Faubourg Saint-Honoré backed onto the formal bosquets. The grandest of them was the Élysée Palace. A semicircle of house-fronts now defined the north side of the Rond-Point. The avenue from the Rond-Point to the Étoile was built up during the Empire. The Champs-Élysées itself became city property in 1828, and footpaths, fountains, and gas lighting were added. Over the years, the avenue has undergone numerous transitions, most recently in 1994, when the sidewalks were widened.

Arc de Triomphe The Arc de Triomphe (Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile) is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. It stands in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle (originally named Place de l’Étoile), at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. There is a smaller arch, the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, which stands west of the Louvre. The Arc de Triomphe (in English: “Triumphal Arch”) honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.

The Arc de Triomphe is the linchpin of the historic axis (Axe historique) – a sequence of monuments and grand thoroughfares on a route which goes from the courtyard of the Louvre, to the Grande Arche de la Défense. The monument was designed by Jean Chalgrin in 1806, and its iconographic program pitted heroically nude French youths against bearded Germanic warriors in chain mail. It set the tone for public monuments, with triumphant patriotic messages.

The monument stands 50 metres (164 ft) in height, 45 m (148 ft) wide and 22 m (72 ft) deep. The large vault is 29.19 m (95.8 ft) high and 14.62 m (48.0 ft) wide. The small vault is 18.68 m (61.3 ft) high and 8.44 m (27.7 ft) wide. It was the largest triumphal arch in existence until the construction of the Arch of Triumph in Pyongyang, in 1982. Its design was inspired by the Roman Arch of Titus. The Arc de Triomphe is so colossal that three weeks after the Paris victory parade in 1919, (marking the end of hostilities in World War I), Charles Godefroy flew his Nieuport biplane through it, with the event captured on newsreel.

Place de la Concorde The Place de la Concorde is one of the major public squares in Paris, France. Measuring 8.64 hectares (21.3 acres) in area, it is the largest square in the French capital. It is located in the city’s eighth arrondissement, at the eastern end of the Champs-Élysées.

The Place was designed by Ange-Jacques Gabriel in 1755 as a moat-skirted octagon between the Champs-Élysées to the west and the Tuileries Gardens to the east. Decorated with statues and fountains, the area was named Place Louis XV to honor the king at that time. The square showcased an equestrian statue of the king, which had been commissioned in 1748 by the city of Paris, sculpted mostly by Edmé Bouchardon, and completed by Jean-Baptiste Pigalle after the death of Bouchardon. The stone is made of a combination of lime and blue stone. The chemical compounds have let it survive for so long under acid rain.

At the north end, two magnificent identical stone buildings were constructed. Separated by the rue Royale, these structures remain among the best examples of Louis XV style architecture. Initially, the eastern building served as the French Naval Ministry. Shortly after its construction, the western building became the opulent home of the Duc d’Aumont. It was later purchased by the Comte de Crillon, whose family resided there until 1907. The famous luxury Hôtel de Crillon, which currently occupies the building, took its name from its previous owners; it was the headquarters of the German High Command during World War II.

During the French Revolution the statue of Louis XV of France was torn down and the area renamed “Place de la Révolution”. The new revolutionary government erected the guillotine in the square, and it was here that King Louis XVI was executed on 21 January 1793. Other important figures guillotined on the site, often in front of cheering crowds, were Queen Marie Antoinette, Princess Élisabeth of France, Charlotte Corday, Madame du Barry, Georges Danton, Camille Desmoulins, Antoine Lavoisier, Maximilien Robespierre, Louis de Saint-Just and Olympe de Gouge.

The guillotine was most active during the “Reign of Terror”, in the summer of 1794, when in a single month more than 1,300 people were executed. A year later, when the revolution was taking a more moderate course, the guillotine was removed from the square.

The square was then renamed Place de la Concorde under the Directory as a symbolic gesture of reconciliation after the turmoil of the French Revolution. It underwent a series of name changes in the nineteenth century, but the city eventually settled on Place de la Concorde.

The center of the Place is occupied by a giant Egyptian obelisk decorated with hieroglyphics exalting the reign of the pharaoh Ramses II. It is one of two the Egyptian government gave to the French in the nineteenth century. The other one stayed in Egypt, too difficult and heavy to move to France with the technology at that time. In the 1990s, President François Mitterrand gave the second obelisk back to the Egyptians.

The obelisk once marked the entrance to the Luxor Temple. The Ottoman viceroy of Egypt, Mehmet Ali, offered the 3,300-year-old Luxor Obelisk to France in 1829. It arrived in Paris on 21 December 1833. Three years later, on 25 October 1836, King Louis Philippe had it placed in the center of Place de la Concorde, where a guillotine used to stand during the Revolution.

Le Tour de France 2012: Stage 18; Bonneval and Chartres

The Tour de France 2012, the world’s premier cycling event kicked off last Saturday with the Prologue in Liège, Belgium and will conclude on July 22 with the traditional ride into Paris and laps up and down the Champs-Élysées. Over the next 22 days the race will take its course briefly along the Northwestern coast of France through  Boulogne-sur-Mer, Abbeville and into Rouen then into the mountains of the Jura, Swiss Alps and the Pyrenees.

We will be Live Blogging Le Tour 2012 every morning at The Stars Hollow Gazette starting at 7:30 AM EDT. Come join us for a morning chat, cheer the riders and watch some of the most beautiful and historic countryside in Europe.

Stage 18 Towns: Bonneval and Chartres

Bonneval

Bonneval Abbey Referred to as the Little Venice of Beauce for its green environment and surrounding ditches, Bonneval is a perfect town for resting your body and mind. On one of the Saint-

Jacques de Compostela routes, this pretty green resort has many vestiges of the Middle Ages: a former Benedictine abbey founded in 857, fortifications from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the gate from the fifteenth century. Main town in the Canton and seat of the Community of Bonnevalais Communes, Bonneval is located one hour from Paris. Close to the A10 and A11, it is served by the RN 10 and the SNCF line Paris-Tours. Bonneval has many schools (from nursery to college), shops and businesses, a children’s centre, squares, new housing and a rich network of associations. Soon, a new swimming pool will complete the lineup of facilities necessary for the lifestyle and comfort of its residents while preserving the calm and tranquility to the delight of tourists who enjoy the unique charms of a ride on an electric boat on the Loir river. What could be better than silently sailing down a river and taking in the unspoiled flora and fauna …

Chartres

Chartres Cathedral Built on the site of an ancient Gallic city, Chartres owes the origin of its name to the Carnutes who occupied the region at the time. Later, during the Middle Ages it underwent major economic activity which developed especially on the banks of the Eure River, which crosses the city. Today, Chartres owes its international fame to the Notre Dame Cathedral, a masterpiece of Gothic art, nicknamed the Acropolis of France by Auguste Rodin. Given UNESCO World Heritage status it is famous for its stained glass windows and their unique blue colour, the “Chartres blue”. But, throughout the medieval streets of the old town, you can also discover other architectural treasures that are lit up every evening during the summer. Tied to its history but resolutely looking towards the future, Chartres, thanks to its proximity to the capital, is home to a quality cosmetics industry with perfumers Guerlain and Paco Rabanne. It also welcomed the 21st century by acquiring ultramodern sports and culture facilities.

Click on images to enlarge

Le Tour de France 2012: Stage 17

The Tour de France 2012, the world’s premier cycling event kicked off last Saturday with the Prologue in Liège, Belgium and will conclude on July 22 with the traditional ride into Paris and laps up and down the Champs-Élysées. Over the next 22 days the race will take its course briefly along the Northwestern coast of France through  Boulogne-sur-Mer, Abbeville and into Rouen then into the mountains of the Jura, Swiss Alps and the Pyrenees.

We will be Live Blogging Le Tour 2012 every morning at The Stars Hollow Gazette starting at 7:30 AM EDT. Come join us for a morning chat, cheer the riders and watch some of the most beautiful and historic countryside in Europe.

Bagnères-de-Luchon and Peyragudes

Bagnères-de-Luchon

Again Le Tour starts where it finished the day before, Bagnères-de-Luchon.

Bagnères-de-LuchonThe stage departed from the main artery of the city, les Allées Etigny. This avenue, characterized by its row of architecturally varied buildings is opposite the Thermal Springs for which the city has been known since Roman times. Busiest station of the Haute-Garonne and the Midi-Pyrénées, Bagnères-de-Luchon, that joined the European Association of Spa Towns in 2011, originally specialised in the treatment of respiratory tracts and rheumatology. It added lombago, fibromyalgia and cures for smoking cessation. Its vaporarium, huge natural steam room, is unique in Europe. It consists of a network of galleries built underground in the late 60s and renovated in 2010. From the depths of the mountain, the water filters through the rock walls giving out a soft vapour whose heat varies between 38 and 40 degrees. In addition to their therapeutic properties, the sources have geothermal potential which, in the near future, will be used to heat the spa facility and supply a heating network.

Peyragudes

A new mountain and a new finish, Peyragudes is a ski resort in the French Pyrenees, situated in the departments of Hautes-Pyrénées and Haute-Garonne, in the Midi-Pyrénées.

Peyragudes Ski SationAt the heart of the Pyrenees, Peyragudes is a mountain resort that offers 60 kilometres of ski pistes in the winter and a variety of mountain activities in summer. Created in 1988 following the merger of two ski resorts, the resort of Agudes and the resort of Peyresourde, Peyragudes straddles two departments, the Haute-Garonne on the Agudes side and the Hautes-Pyrenees on the Peyresourde side. In summer, many mountain activities are available such as paragliding, hiking, mountain scooters, mountain climbing and fishing while many cyclists frequent the resort to climb the surrounding legendary mountain passes like the Col de Peyresourde or the Aspin. In winter, Peyragudes is a modern ski resort with more than 1500 hectares with magnificent scenery on the highest peaks in the Pyrenees. The resort also offers many after-ski activities: discover the world of the piste-basher, have an introduction to driving sled dogs, try nights in an igloo but also relax at Balnéa, the natural spring spa located fifteen minutes away on the banks of Lake Genos-Loudenvielle.

Le Tour de France 2012: Stage 16

The Tour de France 2012, the world’s premier cycling event kicked off last Saturday with the Prologue in Liège, Belgium and will conclude on July 22 with the traditional ride into Paris and laps up and down the Champs-Élysées. Over the next 22 days the race will take its course briefly along the Northwestern coast of France through  Boulogne-sur-Mer, Abbeville and into Rouen then into the mountains of the Jura, Swiss Alps and the Pyrenees.

We will be Live Blogging Le Tour 2012 every morning at The Stars Hollow Gazette starting at 7:30 AM EDT. Come join us for a morning chat, cheer the riders and watch some of the most beautiful and historic countryside in Europe.

The Towns of Stage 16 Pau and Bagnères-de-Luchon

Pau

Pau, Fr Castle Henri IVPau was the finish of Stage 15 on Monday and the riders spent the day there resting for the Stage 16 start from the same town.

In November 2011 Pau was given the title of Town of Art and History, which means it joins a national network of currently more than 170 towns on mainland France and Corsica with the same title. This prestigious honour recognises the efforts of the municipality in protecting the heritage of the city and developing its town projects. This approach of study, conservation, development and support towards architectural quality and to the quality of life has been on the go since 2009. The label Town of Art and History gives more coherance and legibility to cultural policy, to development and gives a sense of heritage to the people of Pau, whilst also reinforcing links between the residents and their town. The label is a dynamic expression of this renewed cultural policy and heritage. It is a real tool for the tourist industry and shines a light on the area, whether for Pau Porte des Pyrénées or for the surrounding towns with common themes such as holiday resorts, pyreneeism tourism or even the bearnaise identity.

Bagnères-de-Luchon

Bagnères-de-LuchonBagnères-de-Luchon, also referred to as Luchon, is a spa town and a commune in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern France.

Bagnères-de-Luchon is celebrated for its thermal springs. The springs, which number forty eight, vary in composition, but are chiefly impregnated with sodium sulfate, and range in temperature from 62 to 150 Fahrenheit. The discovery of numerous Roman remains attests the antiquity of the baths, which are identified with the Onesiorum Thermae of Strabo. Their revival in modern times dates from the latter half of the 18th century, and was due to Antoine Mégret d’Étigny, intendant of Auch.

Within the town today (2006), a more modern entrance to the baths sits alongside the older buildings. The bathing experience consists of repeated spells within a hot, sulphurous atmosphere in caves that run approximately 100 metres inside the Superbagnères mountain, and in a cool swimming pool within the entrance building. It was these sulphur springs that led to a twinning of the settlement with Harrogate in 1952.

Known since 1834 as “the Queen of the Pyrenees” by Vincent de Chausenque in his work Les Pyrénées ou voyages pédestres (The Pyrenees on foot), Bagneres de Luchon, which is the most characteristic mountain town in the Pyrenees, offers the perfect setting for mountain and outdoor activities but also for relaxation and fun for all. Thanks to its natural environment it makes it possible to practise many sporting activities throughout the summer and winter: hiking, mountain biking, trout fishing while canyoning, rafting and paragliding await all thrill seekers. Linked to the Superbagnères resort in eight minutes by cable car, Bagnères de Luchon does not however, rely soley on its strengths in the field of sport. In cultural terms, it offers throughout the year about six hundred events including two flagship events, the International TV Film Festival and the Flower Festival. The finishing line of the 16th stage will be located near to the Villa Julia where French writer Edmond Rostand spent twenty-two summers of his youth and wrote Les Musardies.

Le Tour de France 2012: Stage 15

The Tour de France 2012, the world’s premier cycling event kicked off last Saturday with the Prologue in Liège, Belgium and will conclude on July 22 with the traditional ride into Paris and laps up and down the Champs-Élysées. Over the next 22 days the race will take its course briefly along the Northwestern coast of France through  Boulogne-sur-Mer, Abbeville and into Rouen then into the mountains of the Jura, Swiss Alps and the Pyrenees.

We will be Live Blogging Le Tour 2012 every morning at The Stars Hollow Gazette starting at 7:30 AM EDT. Come join us for a morning chat, cheer the riders and watch some of the most beautiful and historic countryside in Europe.

Stage 15 Towns: Samatan and Pau

Samatan

Samatan is a commune in the Gers department in southwestern France. This is the first time Samatan has been a stage town for Le Tour.

Samatn, Fr From its many hills, Samatan, at the gates of Gascony and Toulouse, offers a great view on the Pyrenees with the pikes of Arbizon and Midi de Bigorre in the background. Its harmonious landscape, green and relaxed, is scattered with small woods and isolated farms in the huge check-board of the fields. This is why Samatan logically turned to green tourism with an emphasis on gastronomy and trekking.

The town has been equipped since the 1980S by a holiday village on the banks of a now renowned lake. It comprises a hotel nd adining rooms with a panoramic view over the lake. 2012 is an important year for the holiday centre as the lodgings will be entirely refurbished while the outside greens have been renovated in the respect of environment. Among the novelties, a spa has been added to the many activities on offer while access for the disabled has been improved.

Pau

 Pua is a commune on the northern edge of the Pyrenees, capital of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques département in France. The site was fortified in the 11th century to control the ford across the Gave de Pau. It was built on the north bank, equidistant from Lescar, seat of the bishops, and from Morlaàs, and became the seat of the viscounts of Béarn. Pau was made capital of Béarn in 1464. During the early 16th century, the Château de Pau was made more habitable by Gaston III, count of Foix and became the residence of the kings of Navarre, who were also viscounts of Béarn.

In 1188, Gaston VI assembled his cour majour there, predecessor of the conseil souverain and roughly equivalent to the House of Lords (but predating it). Gaston VII added a third tower in the 13th century. Gaston Fébus (Gaston III of Foix and Gaston X of Béarn) added a brick donjon (keep).

Pau was birthplace of Henry IV of France. His mother, Jeanne d’Albret, crossed into France to ensure her son would be born there. The baby’s lips were moistened with the local Jurançon wine and rubbed with garlic shortly after birth. When Henry IV left Pau to become King of France, he remarked to local notables that he was not giving Béarn to France, but giving France to Béarn.

Napoleon III refurbished the château and Pau adding streets of Belle Époque architecture, before the fashion transferred to Biarritz. Pau is still a centre for winter sports and equestrian events, with a steeplechase. King Charles XIV of Sweden, the first royal Bernadotte, was also born in Pau.

Following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln stayed in Pau in the late 1870s, toward the end of her life.

Pau Porte des Pyrénées is a territory of 250,000 men and women with a strong sense of common identity based on peace, sharing and passion. It is a natural outdoors sports destination with the Eaux-Vives Stadium, a golf course, trails for walking and rambling… Nature is everywhere in the town, in its numerous parks and gardens or its plots of land maintained by the sheep. It is also a cultural destination with the Chateau de Pau, its light show and outdoor nightime spectacles in its gardens.  Royal land, the city was the birthplace of Henri IV and Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte who became King of Sweden. It is also the land of good cheer with many homegrown produce: the Jurancon wines, la poule au pot, foie gras, sheeps’ milk cheese. Finally Pau makes the most of an innovative global economy: geosciences, food processing, aeronautics, horse breeding and Pau Broadband Country, the first high speed network in France. Pau has everything on offer to tempt you to stay either for a day, a weekend or your whole life so you can adopt brand Pau Porte des Pyrénées!

The bikers took the today off in the city of Pau. Stage 16 tomorrow will start in Pau  

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