Stage 21: Montegron > Paris Champs-Élysées

The final stage. 103km. Flat. Should be over in a jiffy, right?

Are you new? There’s the champagne, the end-of-holidays “keep in touch, yeah?” vibe… Add to this, the late start time – because everybody loves seeing the Arc de Triomphe lit up more than they love starting the week with a decent night’s sleep, right? – and it’s a tough stage for the down under Couch Peloton. No racing until well after bedtime, no vaches, no interesting cheese… Our maillot jaune, Dean Thompson, suggested that some storms might spice things up, so get rain-dancing, folks! Perhaps Skoda will debut a new ad. Maybe the roadside randoms will gather together in flamingo costumes in the shape of a sundial. Or the farmers might bring their herds into town for the finale…


Image: Paris Zigzag via Geert

Thanks to the couch peloton for the good food, company and all the laughs over the past three weeks.


Stage 20: Marseilles > Marseilles

It’s come to this. A 22.5km time trial through Marseilles with no chance of vaches. This must be why TrollDJ decided that it was now or never for Cows with Guns in stage 19.

In keeping with the vache-less theme, the local cheese is a goats cheese: Brousse du Rove. According to Cooks Info

There are no exact regulations as to how the cheese must be made… Brousse du Rove can be used in a savoury dish such as an omelette, or treated as a sweet and eaten drizzled with fruit syrup. It is often eaten just sprinkled with sugar.

Cheese anarchy! Seems oddly fitting…

And I couldn’t not post this amazing image from stage 18. A number of people tweeted about seeing somebody watching the race on cowback, and I honestly thought the late nights were getting to them. Nope.


Image: Tim De Waale


Stage 19: Embrun > Salon-de-Provence

How do we feel about a 222.5km transitional stage right now? Yeah, I thought so… In the words of the Race Guide:

This is a long stage. Fatigue is also going to be a factor…

Any members of the couch peloton who make it through to the end – and by through, I mean no micro-naps! – deserve a place on the podium.

It’s not renowned vache-country, either. We’re more likely to spot moutons. We start in the department we finished in yesterday, so if you want to try the tourtons from stage 28, give them a go. Rusty adapted the recipe for her snacks last night, and they looked fabulous.


Image: mativity

Alternatively, if you are after something beefy, Bouches-du-Rhône offers Alouettes Sans Têtes. Don’t be put off by the name, they are not actually headless larks. They are stuffed beef rolls and they sound quite tasty.

Stage 18: Briançon > Izoard

At the end of this 179.5km stage, the riders will be on the summit of the Col d’Izoard. “Legend” has it that the yellow jersey must win at Izoard, although how seriously Froome takes these Tour traditions is debatable. Particularly since this one doesn’t seem to have consequences for the yellow jersey who doesn’t win at Izoard. We were sad to see Marcel Kittel abandon during stage 17. The silver lining is that Michael Matthews will be in the green jersey today.

Cows have been thin on the ground over the past few stages. Last night brought a sighting of a cow sculpture on a roundabout, and this lone vache in a paddock:


Image: Puggle

Clearly we are looking for better things, vache-wise, tonight! The Tour website includes “bovine and ovine breeding” as a key element of the Hautes-Alpes economy. Here’s hoping they are not experiencing a vache-led recession. For your musette tonight, I think these tourtons are worth a try. Pastry filled with crème fraiche and potato, then deep fried? Sounds like perfect tour-snacking to me…


Stage 17: La Mure > Serre-Chevalier

We have four climbs, including two HC climbs, over this 183km stage. The profile looks to be up, or down, with little opportunity for riders to relax and take in the scenery. The finish is a 28km descent into Serre-Chevalier from the summit of the Cole du Galibier. I’d imagine a few of us on the couch peloton will be watching through our fingers.

The big cow/bike news of the past 24 hours has been the Frieslandcampina sponsorship of Lotto-Jumbo.

Why, yes! Yes it is!

Thanks Puck Buddys and Julie Davies for following up this important vache news.

Let’s celebrate by tucking into some cheese of the Savoie! Les Fromages de Savoie should definitely be in your bookmarks. There’s information about the cheeses, a handy map to help you navigate your way around the region, pretty cows you can download as wallpaper, some colouring pages… Sadly, the Kit pédagogique is in French.


Image: Les Fromages de Savoie