Stage eleven was touted as a “last chance” for the sprinters before the climbers take the spotlight. Hopefully it was also a last chance for the riders to get their rain jackets out, although by the end of the race the rain was so heavy that nothing short of a comfortable team bus would have offered protection from the wet. Here at HQ Les Vaches we are also hoping that it was the last of the cow-free stages.
The coverage started promisingly. Included in the introductory montage was a shot we hadn’t seen yesterday – the group of Blondes from Thomas’ photo running alongside the peloton. Our lovely Le Mans correspondent, parisbug, tweeted her one of her favourite photos and, naturally, I took this as a portent, rather than just a sign.
The only hint of cattle came from one of our regular cowrespondents who was hardly confident of his sighting:
There *might* just have been a few white cows at 73.7. Too small to tell were they wasn’t cars instead.
Let’s call them cows, then. I’m not even going to review the footage to confirm or disprove the sighting, as it’s the only one we’ve got.
With no cows to occupy us, speculation turned to the disparity between the amount of fodder and the number of fodder-consumers we were seeing. Stephen suggested that this was “the Contador factor… they move the cattle well away from the road”, which sounds plausible. Julie thought that perhaps les agriculteurs were capitalising on the recent trend for cooking things in hay, but unless our Michelin-starred chefs are cooking sunflower seeds in hay, or hay in hay (or desserts of hay and chamomile *cough*), I’d still expect to see some livestock (and if you can detect a plaintive tone, you’re spot on). Anyway, I’m not prepared to completely write off this stage for cows – our network of cowrespondents is a finely tuned cow-spotting machine and cyclismeabloc alerted us to this shot from stage nine:
Image: Team Sky
To the results. Lars Boom lived up to his name with an explosive late breakaway, but it all came to naught as the sprinters claimed the right to finish at the front ahead of a few stages where they’ll battle away in the grupetto. Cowvendish and Andre Greipel again fought it out for the stage win, with The Cowv making it across first. He will wear the green jersey for the first time this Tour tomorrow. No other jerseys change hands, so Thomas Veau-ckler will spend the Bastille Day stage in yellow.
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