Stage 16: Pau > Bagnères-de-Luchon

We come back from the rest day having woken to the now-traditional news of a positive test, this time involving Fränk Schleck. Seems a stretch to think that, given his performance this year, he has been enhanced in any way but I guess all that will unfold over the coming days and weeks. As it stands at the time of writing, 155 riders will start in Pau today. The testing bombshell aside, this is the stage we’ve been waiting for! The 197km route with its four climbs – two HCs and two Cat 1s – will provide opportunities for Evans, Nibali and perhaps even Froome to establish a claim to the yellow jersey. Of course Wiggins will be defending his position, but his result today will possibly be buffered by the calculation that he can make up small losses in the final time trial. For the other GC contenders, today and tomorrow will be key.

The first climb to challenge the riders is the 16.4km Col d’Aubisque, which comes on the heels of the early intermediate sprint point at 26km. The climb starts at around 37km and once the riders reach the summit, there’s a descent – with a bump in the form of the Col du Soulor – to the feed station at Adast. The 19km climb to the summit of the Col du Tourmelet starts just after Luz St Sauveur at 101.5km, although it looks pretty much all uphill from Adast. After descending Tourmelet, the Col d’Aspin climb starts immediately; rinse and repeat for the final climb of the day, the Col de Peyresourde.

I’m anticipating that we might be too distracted by the action on the road to fully commit to spotting cows, however the slower pace necessitated by the climbs should allow us to do some multitasking. Keep a lookout for the Gascon, which were profiled here last year. We’re less likely to see the Lourdais (see last year’s post for details), but it would be the spot of the Tour if we do!

Perhaps some Spanish cattle might have made their way north – a show of support for Euskaltel-Euskadi, perhaps? – so let’s take a look at the Pyrenean.

Image: Kranky Kids

This breed originated in the north-west of Spain and comes in a range of colours, from the dun in this illustration to a reddish-brown. In the past it was used as a draught animal, as well as for beef and milk, however it is now primarily a beef breed. We spotted some Blondes d’Aquitaine yesterday and it’s possible that we might see some more tonight.

As far as cheeses go, there are some beautiful varieties from the Pyrénées, however my favourites are all from sheep and goat milk. The Tomme des Pyrénées is one possibility as it can be made from cows milk, although sheep and/or goat milk is often used. It is a pressed cheese and is sealed in wax with the colour corresponding to the age of the cheese. The younger cheese is aged for at least 21 days and is sealed in black wax whilst the older cheese has at least 45 days of ageing. It is certainly not the standout cheese of the area, in my opinion. Roberta Muir suggests that it is perfect for a potato gratin, so perhaps put some Roy de Vallees or Ossau Iraty on your cheese platter and have a gratin with your dinner. Enjoy your cheese with DiscoverVin’s selection for tonight, the Château Jolys Cuvée Jean, a delightful, not-too-sweet dessert wine.

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Mongolia is a long way from France, but one of our readers mentioned this Kiva project and I thought I’d share it with you:

Nandinsoyol-Erdene is 34 years old and lives with her husband, Oyunbaatar, and two children in a ger in Dornod province, Mongolia. Her daughter goes to secondary school and her two-year-old son stays at home. She started her organic dairy production business in 2009 with 5 dairy cows. She sells the organic milk to local residents. Her business seems to be sustainable because she has gained a number of regular customers. She is a good-natured woman, who says “I want to buy two more cows to improve the breeding and increase the production volume.” She needs 2,000,000 MNT to purchase good breeding cows.

One thought on “Stage 16: Pau > Bagnères-de-Luchon

  1. Pingback: Tour de France 2012 – Stage 16 « Visible Procrastinations

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