Stage six took us away from Brittany and into Normandy, and Gabriel Gate welcomed us to the region with some lovely footage of cattle grazing as he discussed the cheeses mentioned by Essjaymoo yesterday.
One of our cowrespondents, Derek, had been in touch with “inside information” that it would be a cattle-rich stage, so I was looking forward to some top sightings. To say I was bitterly disappointed would be the understatement of the Tour so far. There were many glimpses, but they were distant enough to have me interpreting the raindrops on the cameras as beasts when pickings were slim.
Yes, it was another rainy stage and after the disasters of stage five, the peloton must have been pretty nervous. That was one certainly of Paul Sherwen’s favoured words of the stage, but it didn’t translate into a markedly slower pace. Team Vaches‘ new favourite vegan did some more work at the front to save the Tour’s longest stage from keeping us awake for too long. In fact, I’ve forgiven him so completely for eschewing the wonders of beef and dairy that I’ve decided to rename him David Zebu-riskie.
Here’s a rundown of the sightings:
- 100km a group of pied cattle
- 94.3km behind the Château de Pontécoulant – possibly some cream coloured cattle, or *ahem* some sheep
- 86.6km beside a river as Paul rhapsodised over the pink stone
- 76.3km another group of pied cattle, who seemed rather spooked by the hovering helicopter (and again at 75.8)
- 63.4 brought another cows? or sheep? sighting from the rain-spattered helicopter lens and by this stage I was wondering if I’d even recognise a cow if it appeared beside me on the couch. (I’d noted a sighting of charolais at 68km which, on review, turned out to be a couple of hay bales.)
At around the 33km mark, Chris tweeted that the cows were all lurking due to the rain, which made sense. If I were a cow, I’d certainly have sought shelter from the wet. Logic suggests that there are a lot of cows in Normandy. A region can’t produce such quantities of highly regarded cow’s milk cheese without cows, after all, so if you are planning a cow-centric ramble around France, don’t write Normandy off just on the basis of this stage.
As far as the race goes, Lampre’s Adriano Malori was out front for most of the stage, only being picked up inside 3km. Thomas Vealckler (who is now to be known as Thomas Veauclker, thanks to cowrespondent Bill) had another last-ditch crack at the win at 2.1km, but was not allowed to get away with it by the peloton. With the finish approaching it seemed that Geraint Thomas was making a move, but he wasn’t doing it for the cows, he was doing it for Sky team-mate Edvald Boasson Hagen who took the stage win. The God of Thunder stays in yellow, Gilbert in green and Thomas in white, but Cowbell Evans must give the spots to Johnny Hoogerland. That’s all he’s giving up, though, as he is still beautifully placed at 1 second behind the leader. Who could ask for more? Well, apart from a few decent cow-sightings, of course…