Tour of Britain: stage one

As the 2012 Vuelta finishes, the Tour of Britain begins.  Fourteen teams of six (and two teams of five) will compete over eight stages. Some are favouring Sky to take the win, although it seems they are viewing it as more of a “victory lap” for Wiggins and, and World Championship prep for Cav, than an attempt to gain a victory. Given recent precedent (Vino’s Olympics win, the failed Contador-Froome face-off) perhaps this party will be spoiled for the local heroes, too.

Whilst the Vuelta has given us exciting racing, it wasn’t so great for cows. This excellent cheese map of Britain is a fairly good indicator that we should have some cattle sightings over the course of the race.

Stage one, a relatively flat 203 kms from Ipswich to Norwich, will take us through Suffolk and into Norfolk. Both counties had local breeds – the Suffolk Dun and the Norfolk Red, respectively – however neither breed has survived into the 21st century. They continue in the form of the dual-purpose Red Poll, which was developed in the early 19th century from the two breeds. The Red Poll was hugely popular in Britain in the mid 20th century, but numbers dwindled until it was officially classified a “rare” breed. In the 1980s the breed society was reinvigorated and numbers are gradually rising again in the UK. It has been more of a continued success story elsewhere in the world.

Red Poll cow, Temple Newsam - - 179145

Image: RichTea [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The cheese map tells us that there are a couple of cheeses made in Suffolk – Suffolk Gold and Shipcord – although there is no PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) or PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) style originating here. Suffolk Farmhouse Cheeses, where the Suffolk Gold is made, uses milk from their Guernsey herd, but we won’t hold that against them as the Guernsey is a beautiful beast. The Suffolk Gold is described as

A creamy semi-hard farmhouse cheese, delicious flavour with a rich golden colour. Perfect with oatcakes or an apple.

The Shipcord, a cheddar-style cheese made from unpasteurised raw milk, comes from Rodwell Farm Dairy in Ipswich. I’m sure you’ll be able to find something along these lines to make up your Tour de Snack plate for this stage.

The Tour of Britain is being shown on Eurosport – today’s stage starts at around 10.30pm AEST – and will also be streamed on Cycling Central once the Vuelta is over.


3 thoughts on “Tour of Britain: stage one

  1. Scottie says:

    Nice preview, dramatic race, it’s live on ITV4 in the UK and as far as I could see we didn’t see any cows but I hope you stayed up to see Niels Wytnick from An Post Sean Kelly receive his Most Combative Rider Award….a 5kg truckle of Mrs Temple’s Well’s Alpine Cheese (a semi-hard cheese made from Brown Swiss cow’s milk at Copy’s Green Farm, Wighton near Wells-by-the -Sea apparently).

    I must admit, I don’t know much about cows, but I am a big fan of wine, cheese and beer. Tomorrow obviously it’s going to be difficult to look beyond Stilton but for a pairing that spans the entire Stage 2 region may I recommend the mild crumbly HS Bourne’s Chesshire Cheese (from Malpas) with the hoppy pale Thornbridge Brewery Jaipur IPA, (5.9abv) from Bakewell (home of the famous tart) or for the traditionalists, Cropwell Bishop Blue Stilton with White Shield’s Bass no 1 Barleywine (10.5%abv!!) from Burton. Old Skool!

    I believe Bass Barleywine is named after (but not made by) the famous Bass brewery (est 1777) in Burton on Trent (Peak District water was considered to be the best in England and the top-selling Buxton and Malvern mineral waters are sourced nearby). IPA, as you probably know, is India Pale Ale which was specially brewed as a lower alcohol easy drinking light beer which was shipped out to the four corners of the Empire but especially India, for hot-weather quaffing by the British Army in the days of the Raj (although at nearly 6%, Jaipur is not really lower alcohol!). Greene King IPA from Suffolk would be a good pairing for the Shipford.

    Interestingly, because of the PDO, Stilton cannot be made in the village of Stilton in Huntingdonshire where a version of the famous cheese was originally made!

    Expect more sheep tomorrow, especially in the Peak District (Wiggo’s adoptive home) but I really hope we see some Cape Buffalo at Knowsley Safari Park, even though it is kind of cheating! Wine was grown in this region in Roman times and a number of vineyards have been (re)planted in recent years, notably Holmfirth which gets reasonably good reviews for its rose, Renishaw Hall and Cwm Deri but I’m afraid I can’t comment personally….

    Look forward to tomorrow’s preview.


    • Injera says:

      I missed the cheese presentation! Thanks for the cheese pairings for stage two – I do like a bit of barleywine but have never had it with cheese. Possibly too early in the week to have a late night of cheese and beer here, but I’ll try to see what I can do 😉

      Definitely hoping for a buffalo sighting!

  2. Pingback: Tour of Britain: stage two | Les Vaches du Tour

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