We’re in Belgium and after the flatlands of the first two stages there is some climbing in store for tonight. It’s another relatively short stage at 157km, with four categorised climbs in the last 50 or so kilometres. The final climb – the Mur de Huy – isn’t a long one, but it is steep so will test the legs of the riders. I’d love to see the Cow that won’t Quit regain some form here to take the stage, although Valverde has a thing or two to prove after getting caught out yesterday and the climbs will suit him *shudder*. Here’s hoping that Cancellara stays in touch so he can at least attack the cobbles in stage 4 in yellow.
Now to the cows. The local beast is one we’ve met and admired before: the magnificent Belgian Blue.
Image: Robert Scarth
Despite this one’s rather small udder, Blues do produce milk and that milk goes into the cheese recommended by our Belgian cowrespondent, Geert, for this stage: Maroilles. Now, this is a French cheese, but it’s from the far north and we have had no luck tracking down the made-in-Belgium Hervé in the past. If you like washed-rind cheeses that pack a bit of a stink, grab a wedge large enough to carry you through tomorrow’s stage, as it will still be regionally appropriate. Try it with a delicious Belgian beer! From a brewery near the start, Geert suggests a fruity Westmalle Tripel. Actually, he recommended a more local brewery, De Koninck, but I am yet to see that around these parts. For a lighter, fragrant wheat beer, the Blanche de Namur comes from a brewery nearer the finish. Of course, if you fancy something hearty using beer and beef and have a couple of hours for the cooking, the Carbonnade a la flamande is definitely worth a try.
Now, last night we were in Holstein-Friesian country and we were lucky enough to spot some. Today, this story came into my twitter feed: Blosom, the world’s tallest cow, died recently. She was a Holstein, living in Illinois, and much loved as a pet. The story is worth a read, and there’s a lovely video about her entry into the Guinness Book of World Records.