Today’s 194.5km stage includes the first Hors Category climb of the 2012 Tour: the 1,501m Col de Grand Colombier, another climb making its debut this year. Before attacking this climb, riders will negotiate the Cat 2 Côte de Corlier (90km). The intermediate sprint point comes at 130.5km and the serious climbing starts almost immediately. It’s not all downhill from Colombier to the finish; the Cat 3 Col de Richemond breaks up the descent into Bellegarde-sur-Valserine. Prior to the Tour starting, this was earmarked as an Andy Schleck stage. With him out, it will be interesting to see if Fränk takes up the attack. He is currently 17th in the general classification (8’19” behind the yellow jersey), so stage wins probably feature in his revised Tour goals. Evans is still in second place, 1’53” behind Wiggins, and Froome is looking very strong in third, with a 2’07” deficit. Nibali and Menchov round out the top five. The peloton is now down to 177 riders, with 20 having withdrawn as a result of injury and one having been arrested. Ah, yes, the magic of le Tour. As The Inner Ring tweeted:
Kudos to the French police who found Rémi di Gregorio because nobody watching the race has seen him.
Onto the vaches!
We met the Charolais yesterday, and this is the cow to watch out for today.
Image: David Bennett
These were discovered when the Quillcards Blog took a trip through the Bourgogne along the smaller, country roads, which bodes well for our vache-spotting. It’s good to see that others are as interested in cattle and their provenance as we are! This blogger, an American living in the area, is able to get local Charolais at the butcher and has been converted, to the point where it’s the beef of choice (although one of the commentators recommends Parthenaise as the premier beef breed).
As we move into the Rhône-Alpes there might be the chance to spot some dairy cattle, as we are close to the region responsible for Reblochon de Savoie. This is a soft, washed-rind cheese with a creamy texture and nutty flavour. The story of its origin demonstrates the cunning of the local farmers:
Its origins go back to the Middle-Ages in the Thônes valley in Haute-Savoie. The farmers used to hide a part of their milk production in order to reduce the taxes they paid to the landlords of mountain pastures. To avoid taxes, clever farmers used to stop milking halfway during inspections at the landlords’ premises. Once the landlord had gone, they resumed milking and the milk obtained from this second milking was much richer and fattier.
Alain at Bill’s Farm mentioned a locally made version of the reblechon: The Mountain Man, by L’Artisan Cheese Timboon. The cheese makers suggest matching it to a dry white wine. Of course, you can always serve it the traditional way, melted over potatoes, as Essjaymoo discovered in stage 19 last year.