It’s a sprinter’s stage today – short, flat and (hopefully) fast. The start has been scheduled early so the teams can make the journey across the channel in good time and I’m sure there are already southern hemisphere fans who’ll be grateful for an early night. Naturally, all the pre-race buzz was about a possible Cavendish victory; now we must look elsewhere. Probably not too far. Sagan will be no doubt be doing all he can to cross the line first in green, but Kittel should have the advantage, particularly after conserving his energy yesterday finishing with most of the big sprint contenders almost 20 minutes down. And what about Griepel? It’d be good to see him in the mix, however I do kind of like the idea of one of the French sprinters taking the stage. Coquard’s been looking good and given the built-up nature of the route, roosters are likely to be the only livestock we spot. Maybe the French will hit home turf with two jerseys?
We leave behind the chortle-inducing names of the north although there are still some sniggers to be had. Unfortunately Steeple Bumpstead is a little north-east of our route and Chignall Smealy a little west, but by the time we get to North Weald Bassett it will be almost time to see how the points contenders are dividing up the spoils at the Forêt d’Epping sprint point.
Image: Marilyn Peddle
As far as the prospects for vache sightings go, I am deeply pessimistic. There are no native breeds I could find in the counties we are travelling through and we are entering the London commuter belt so there won’t be the expanses of farmland we saw in the Dales. It’s quite possible that the only quadrupeds we’ll see will be on leashes or carrying Queens’ Guards. As for local produce, despite the fact that the village of Stilton is actually in Cambridgeshire, cheeses called Stilton are only allowed to be made in Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. Stilton’s application to make Stilton was rejected, which sounds like a story idea for Yes, Minister. There are a number of cheeses produced in the nearby counties and it’s our last night in the UK – if you can get your hands on a British cheese you might as well make the most of it!
The British Cheese Board’s recipe of the week features Stilton, so if you are having a meat-free Monday why not try Vic Reeves’ Stilton Spaghetti with Mushrooms. Wash it down with a Fuller’s London Pride.
SBS TV coverage starts at
9.30pm 10.00pm tonight AEST (thanks, Todd and Phil for the correction), right after Pain, Pus and Poison. Now that’s bound to whet your appetite for #toursnacks. You can watch online from 9.00pm.