The race is crossing back into France for the end-game of this year’s Tour. The official race guide describes this as “the showcase stage of the 2011 Tour de France”. We’re pretty sure they are talking about the challenging cols over this 200.5km stage – Col Agnel, Col d’Izoard and Galibier are all hors categorie climbs – but perhaps they are also talking about the cattle. Galibier-Serre Chevalier puts us in the Dauphiné alps, so whilst there is no indigenous breed for this particular area, we remember the participation of les vaches in the Dauphiné-Libéré. This time, we hope they take a more spectatorial interest than a participatory one.
Photo: Will Levy
Once we leave Italy, we are in the Haute Alpes again, which we have discovered is one of the few Alpine departments you could feel safe visiting if you wanted to avoid being exposed to a host of local cows’ milk cheese. I have, however, managed to find this: the Petit Bayard. It is a raw milk cheese with a “mild” flavour “with a touch of parsley”. You will probably struggle to find it here, but not to worry, hopefully you have packed some of that Beddo and Toma Biellese from Piedmont! Or maybe you might make a short cheese-fast ahead of the riches of Savoie and Isère. If you do want to make something regional using cheese, try Oreilles d’Ane (Donkey’s Ears), which looks like a creamy, cheesy, spinachy delight.
Photo: Will Levy
Whatever you eat and drink tonight, make sure you stay focussed on the race. Cowntador will be attacking, trying to take back time; the Schlecks will be… Schlecking; and hopefully Cowbell will wear the yellow tomorrow.