Once again, we had a cow free stage. Well, almost. For those dedicated people who were watching online there was this:
Our Eurosport-watching cowrespondents informed us that the spills on the descent of La Hourquette d’Ancizan were due to “cow shite” on the road. We’re not sure where cowmentator Sean got his information from – on reviewing the tape I was unable to pick up any merde apart from that in the tortured metaphors streaming out of the Ps as the peloton swept down the mountain, and I was certainly unable to pick out any cows. It also seems unlikely that cows would jeopardise the chances of their champion, Geraint Thomas, in such a way.
Just before the summit of the the second climb, the Col de Tourmalet, there was a group of cattle in the background (at 35.9km). They had their backs turned to the action, were partially obscured by the mist, and not the focus of the camera operator in the helicopter, but they were there. Or were goats. Or sheep. We know there are cows in them thar hills, though. We’ve got pictorial evidence! Just… not from last night. Whilst on holiday last year, Agrifoglio not only had some lovely sunny weather in these parts, but was held up by cattle on Tourmalet:
Another cowrespondent, David, provided us with this further evidence that cows are in the Pyrenees with this shy (possibly Mirandaise) cow:
I’m beginning to wonder whether the bovines on the Tour route took the idea of lurking beneath the subculture of the Tour de France literally. This one certainly looks as though she’d happily take Robbie McEwan’s “invisibility cloak” from him.
Despite the lack of cows, the action on the roads was definitely enough to keep us awake. Our favourite vealer, Geraint Thomas, had a cracker of a stage and we were hoping that he might regain the white jersey. I’m sure he’s happy with his combative award. After a “serious decanting of the peloton” largely due to the work of Leopard Trek at the front – otherwise known as Team Jens Voigt – Sammy Sanchez and Jelle Vanendert managed to keep the “heads of state” at bay to reach Luz-Ardiden in first and second places respectively. Contador must have been a bit discombobulated at being in a “Schleck sandwich” and lost 43″ to the stage winner and, more crucially, 13″ to our Cowbell. Sammy Sanchez’s win gives him the polka dots tonight. Thomas Veau-ckler holds on to the yellow jersey, and Cowvendish keeps the green. The French celebrated Bastille Day in style, with FDJ’s Arnold Jeannesson taking the white.