The Tour is in some disarray after yesterday's bad weather, which though very localised put paid to the final climb. The prospect of more of the same on today's stage has led the organisers to shorten the course. Instead of a wide sweep to the East from Albertville
, the riders will go directly South, rejoining the original route at Moûtiers
and finishing (God willing) as originally planned at Val Thorens
The arms of Albertville
, a town founded by King Charles Albert of Sardinia, Duke of Savoy, in 1836, are confusing. Either they are these, where the dexter half is clearly Savoy with a tower in Q4:
or these, where the dexter coat is per pale argent and gules rather than just gules (Parti d'argent et de gueules, à la croix d'argent brochant sur la partition et cantonnée au 4e d'une tour de même; coupé d'argent et d'azur, à l'ancre de sable chargée d'une gerbe d'or et brochant sur le tout):
Either way it is unclear (to me) what is the origin of the arms with an anchor and wheatsheaf. Albertville is far from the sea and on a minor river unsuitable for commercial boat traffic.
As to the version per pale, it simply doesn't work, even with a clear line of division. Moreover it pretty much loses the link to the Duke of Savoy.
PS: Any guess as to the pointy object between the two shields? A sample of local wrought-iron work?
The revised route meets the original route at Moûtiers
, once known as Tarantaise. The arms reflect the former importance of the Archbishop of Tarantaise. In 1186 Emperor Frederick "Barbarossa" elevated The Archbishop to an immediate vassal and Prince of the Holy Roman Emperor, a status that survived over 150 years and is reflected in the coat of arms.
Unusually only the sinister half is dimidiated.
The finish (with any luck!) is at Val Thorens
, which has only seen a Tour de France stage finish once before, in 1994, when a Colombian won. The race leader today is also a Colombian, so perhaps Egan Bernal will make it 2 for 2. Val Thorens is in the commune of Les Belleville
an agglomeration of three small communes of which only Saint-Martin-de-Belleville had arms, and quite simple ones too (drawing a veil over the tincture "rule" violation - we've seen worse!).