We’re in the Rhône-Alpes today and here we’ll stay for the next couple of stages. This punchy 140km route takes in four climbs. The ascent of the 2000m Col de la Madeleine (HC) begins just 15km into the stage with the summit at 40km. Hopefully we won’t miss too much of the action whilst M. Gaté explores the regional cuisine! The 40 hairpin bend descent leads to the intermediate sprint point at the 61.5km mark, after which the Col du Glandon/Col de la Croix de Fer combination – another HC climb – commences. It’s 22.4km up at an average of 7% – towards the top riders will encounter 8% gradients, with the last two kilometres at 10%. Ouch. The Cat 2 Col du Mollard follows, and riders finish on the Cat 1 La Toussuire.
Vaches to watch out for
Image: Tom Douglas
The Hérens breed originated in Switzerland, although there is a French variant (creatively named the French Hérens). They look like a typical alpine cow – see? bells! – but these might not be the ones to tangle with during a road race. In some alpine communities in France and Switzerland the annual Combat des Reines takes place, with farmers from the region pitting their cows against each other for the crown.
The Telegraph covered one such battle, in the village of Aproz, and appended a “some people may find these images disturbing” warning to their slideshow. Fortunately, Helen McGrory’s piece on Chamonet describes it as
more cow argy-bargy really rather than full on fighting
On a less combative note, we are very close to Beaufort, so there will be Tarantaise and Abondance cows at large as these are the breeds contributing to the lovely Beaufort cheese (you might remember them from stage 19 of last year’s Tour). At this time of year in these parts people would be enjoying the Beaufort de Savoie, made from the summer milk. As we discovered during the alpine stages last year, there is an abundance of gorgeous cheese in these mountains. Nay, an abondance! Don’t overlook the Tomme de Savoie and the local Emmental.
If you have any boeuf bourguignon left over, why not try this hachis parmentier? It’s described as a French cottage pie, but I have never had a cottage pie that looks quite this good…