Stage 18 was the first of the last, or the last of the first, or the stage that would determine everything, or the stage that would determine nothing, depending on who you listened to or even what particular time you tuned in to their comments. “Oscillating wildly” seems to sum up some of the pundits. Whatever the result foretells, we are hoping it is not a precedent for the last of the cow spotting as we saw representations but no real ruminants. We know there were cows about, as Jane managed to pick out a cow icon on one of the roadside signs as the riders climbed past, but they stayed away from the cameras.
What’s better than seeing a cow? Seeing that somebody is so dedicated to cattle that they dress their campervan up as one. Catherine tweeted this spot, much to Essjaymoo’s relief. After nearly three weeks of scouring the landscape for cows we have reached the stage where we are dreaming cows, so SJ thought she might have just conjured it up out of desperation for a sighting. And, to the question:
To the race, and stress levels were rising on this vache‘s couch, as I’d imagine they were wherever Cowbell supporters watched. Not so much because Cowbell was actually losing the Tour on the stage, but because Phil and Paul – for some reason – had decided he was; that Schleck (Andy) had definitely taken the yellow, and that Team Cowbell might as well take bats, balls, and tortured metaphors and go home.
Cowbell has slipped back to fourth overall, but Schleck (A) has less than a minute on him and Schleck (F) only 4 seconds, so we can continue to yell for Cadel without feeling that he is engaged in a Quixotic endeavour. Cowvendish keeps the green, remaining in the race despite coming in 35’40” after Schleck due to the size of his grupetto. Had the cut-off time been enforced, the peloton would have started tonight at less than half strength! Vanendert keeps the spots – perhaps he will continue to wear them, as Sanchez (rather inexplicably) seems to have expended a great deal of energy assisting Cowntador. Talk about Quixotic endeavours! Rein Taaramae of Cofidis, who finished the stage 3’22” behind, takes the white jersey from Uran.
Read Rupert Guinness’ report for a less Schlecky view than the Ps can muster of what the stage means for Cadel.