As predicted, the scenery for stage four was lovely, improved by the strategic placement of some cattle.
The Tour of Britain continues to provide participants with a Tour of Seasons, too, which I’m sure they are well and truly over by now. As with stage three, the rain cleared for the end of the race and the Sky train pulled the breakaway back with just under 10km to go. With no red flag to mark the final kilometre – the winds earlier in the day prevented it from going up – Steele von Hoff seemed to start his bid for the finish early but Cavendish passed him for his second consecutive stage win and the overall lead. After this stage, none of the other jerseys will change hands.
Stage five starts and finishes in Stoke-on-Trent, taking in three climbs along the 147km loop with the final climb – Gun Hill, at 116.8km – a Cat 1. If a breakaway gets a decent lead, perhaps we will see a few escapees survive to the end, although the course has been designed to accommodate a group finish.
We’ll have to wait for the final two stages for the chance to spot some cattle local to the route, however we might spot some dairy herds today. Scottie explains:
Oatmeal fans, you’re in for a treat. The Stoke-on-Trent stage, in Staffordshire, is a tight little route but one brimming with local delicacies. Staffordshire has its own cheese, with PDO status and Bertelin Staffordshire is an outstanding example. A cheese with a long monastic heritage, it has a smooth, slightly crumbly texture and a creamy, fresh, lactic flavour. Another local delicacy, unique and still a popular lunchtime or post-pub snack in the area is the Staffordshire Oatcake, a pancake-like flatbread of griddled oatmeal batter, eaten soft and warm – not to be confused with it’s Scottish namesake. Enjoy both with Lymestone Brewery’s Stone Brood honey beer, (4.4% abv) a rich, dark beer from honey from the brewery’s own hives and the finest chocolate malt producing velvety chocolate notes giving way to a balanced bittersweet finish!