We had anticipated that this stage might be devoid of cattle and we were not wrong. Fortunately les agriculteurs ensured that Team Vaches’ bovine vigilance wasn’t in vain with their field art.
Our cowrespondents have come to the rescue once again with evidence that there are real cows in the area. Tim, who tweets as spyjournal, is following the Alpine stages of the Tour in a far more literal way than we are. He is on his bike, has his camera, and snapped this scene on his way into Gap.
He also had a position on the only categorised climb for the day, the Col de Manse, and has posted some fabulous shots of the stage on his website.
To the racing, and the weather in seemed designed to make southern hemisphere viewers feel at home – there was talk of snow just above Gap. The God of Thunder did have a crack, as predicted, in more ways than one. Fortunately his win was a welcome distraction from the error of wearing white shorts on a rainy day. His end-game battle against countryman Boasson-Hagen has embedded this earworm. Go on – try not singing “Wonderful, wonderful Boasson-Hagen!” every time his name is mentioned…
Cowbell excelled, meeting and defeating the attacks of Cowntador, who lost more time to him but gained time over the Schlecks. Cowbell is back to number two overall, under a minute behind the yellow jersey of Veau-ckler. He is no longer in the Schleck sandwich, whicha has no filling now that the brothers are in positions three and four, with Andy losing more than a minute to Cowbell. Cowvendish and Uran will keep their jerseys, quite possibly right up until Paris, but Vanendert will face some strong competition for the spots now that the Alps are upon us.