We start Le Tour in Belgium this year with a 6.4km time trial around the streets of Liège, following the same route used in 2004. Cancellara won the day back then and is described as the “defending champion” of the prologue, having won the last one in 2010. The first rider on the course will be Tom Veelers (Argos-Shimano) at 2.00pm local time (10.00pm AEST). Cadel Evans will start in yellow and will be the last off the ramp, at 5.17pm (1.17am AEST). Wake up your neighbours as you yell for Cadel!
Now on to the cows.
It shouldn’t be too much of a challenge to spot one of the Belgian Blues whilst we’re in Belgium. They are huge. Probably more the track sprinters of the vache world than the Grand Tour athletes.
Of course, this circuit of the city won’t offer any opportunities for cow-spotting, but we can ease into this epic adventure with a tribute to these Belgian beefers in a hearty Carbonnade Flamande [thanks, Anna, for the recipe recommendation] and some cheese.
There are a number of cheeses from the area, chiefly from Herve, which is 20km east of of Liège. Herve produces a number of cheeses and offers this fine advice on the consumption of their product:
Herve must have a character of the delights that accompany with happiness: a warm wine, an amber beer, a Puerto generous …
Okay, so Google Translate might have had an issue with the Puerto generous, but I think we can be satisfied that this is cheese that rewards drinking. Hell, one of their varieties is even washed with gin! Herve also produces Val dieu, Fleur de Fagne and Trou d’Sottai (which is charmingly translated as “the cave goblins”) amongst other cheeses.
Earlier in the year, there was a fire. Right next to the cheese!
Around 10:45, a fire occurred in an old disused condensation tower next to the cheese. Thanks to prompt action by firefighters and Herve Battice, the fire was contained within 15 minutes. There were no injuries.The workshops of the cheese have suffered any damage. The activity returned to normal.
I think we can all raise a glass, and a fistful of cheese, to the returning to normal of the cheese workshops. Belgian cheeses are proving difficult to track down, but I think the real key here is to stock up on a selection of your favourite cheeses just to enter into the spirit of the thing.