Stage seventeen: round-up

Yesterday’s stage was not much for cows; in fact, the only non-human life we saw was captured in this image by cowrespondent Bill:

Life is probably the wrong word in these circumstances, as by this stage I think the life force had departed this little bug.

We did hear cowbells throughout the stage, which must mean there were cows around, right?  When I wondered aloud what the purpose of cowbells were, my viewing companion responded that they are so “the farmer can hear the cows running away”.  Now every time I hear the bells I imagine a farmer saying “there go the cows again, Beryl”.  This is what happens when I don’t have visuals to distract me…

It was a good stage for another Cowbell, too.  The breakaway contained no GC threats, so the “heads of state” were content to let them go.  Wonderful, wonderful Boasson-Hagen made up for missing the win in stage 16, taking the stage 40″ in front of the next breakie, Mollema.  Cowntador, working alongside Sammy Sanchez, tried to cut into his time deficit, flying down the final descent (a descent that saw Hivert and Veau-ckler each head off into a ditch and a carport).  For a while it seemed that he had gotten away with it – even our commentators were speculating on exactly how much time he’d clawed back with his attack – so it was a great (and welcome) surprise when he and Sanchez came into view in the final stretch, accompanied by a group containing Vanendert, Taaramae, Peraud, Cunego, both Schlecks and… Cowbell!

No jerseys change hands, once again, although Sanchez is closing in on Vanendert for the spots and Veau-ckler is now holding on to yellow by 1’18”.  His descent last night shows he is desperate to keep it, however his team should probably start getting his usual Europcar strip laundered and pressed for stage 19.

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