It’s another individual time trial, this time over 32km from Embrun to Chorges. It’s not a flat course, like the first one, with two Cat 2 climbs snuck in. It starts at 789m and finishes at 861m, with the Côte de Puy Sanières peaking at 1137m and the Côte de Réallon at 1227m. Add all those together, multiply by your age, subtract the year Chris Froome was born in and divide by a mystery digit, and you get the altitude at which the winner was born. No, truly. Try it.
The more important question is: will there be cows. There has been some speculation about the correlation between our presence in France and the lack of vaches this Tour. We’ve eaten our fair share, but I don’t think we’ve decimated the herd. Rather, when I first looked at the course, I did scratch my head and think “hmmm, Prudhomme didn’t have vaches in mind when he planned this, did he?”.
Still, we are in the alps and you’re never too far from a doe-eyed, bell-bedecked bovine beauty here. Keep your eyes peeled and your larder stashed. I’ll be eating the amazing Beaufort we picked up at the street market in Vaison-la-Romaine yesterday. We had many choices, trying a delicious Comté, a subtle Gruyère and probably the nicest Brebis I’ve ever tasted, but we opted for the Beaufort which may or may not be three years old. (My French is still dodgy, obviously.) Still, it is utterly fabulous and we may have eaten half the piece waiting for the stage to start.
We’ve met this cheese before and it is possible to track down some nicely matured examples of the style if you go to specialist cheesemongers. If you see any Tarantaise or Abondance cattle – we saw a lot of the latter during the Dauphiné – they are the ones responsible for this delicious cheese.
Image: Olive White Photography
Image: Americans in France