This is the sharp end of the Tour even if judging only by all those alpine climbs that look incredibly symmetrical in the route profile. Froome continues to hold on to the yellow jersey and it would take a miracle – or a catastrophe – to dislodge it from his grip. I’m sure no cycling fan wants to see either of those. There is still a lot of life left in the climbers’ competition, though, and we can expect the motos to stick closely to Bardet, Voeckler, Rolland and Pinot.
There will no doubt be a point during this 138km stage – say, at kilometre zero – when the sprinters will look over their shoulders and wonder if it’s worth going the long way ’round. It’s 3.8 km to Saint-Pancrace – they could stop for a spot of lunch and meet up with the race for the last 20km. Alas, that option is not open to them so it will be a matter of doing those infernal calculations while they drag themselves up and down the Col du Chaussy, the Col de la Croix de Fer and the Col du Mollard, quite probably humming Helter Skelter to themselves as they go.
Hopefully whilst they are doing that, we will see some cattle. We know we will see Tarantaise cows as long as we tune in to the Taste le Tour segment.
Image: SBS, Taste le Tour
These gorgeous beasts produce the milk that makes the equally gorgeous Beaufort cheese, known as Prince of the Gruyères. This cheese is made in large wheels which are then matured in caves or cellars for up to two years. For more on its manufacture, watch tonight or check out this lovely post. It is definitely worth seeking out some of this delicious cheese (and yes, I am saying that in Gabriel Gaté’s accent as I type). We bought some at a street market when we were visiting the stage 16 start two years ago and, even under less than ideal cheese transporting and storage conditions, it was a revelation. Gabriel is cooking with it tonight – an omelette, which seems like the perfect end-of-week dinner. I think I might do the same.