We have a winner!

It’s clear you really were paying attention! I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you were relying on recordings of Phil-and-Paul’s ruminations to lull you off to sleep in this post-Tour week.

We had an early bid for the Green Jersey from MG, who submitted his answers a mere 16 minutes after the quiz went live, however the lead-out train wasn’t perfectly positioned and a couple of errors were detected. We had a lot of people missing out by the merest whisker (those Velits twins! That heavy dog! Those pesky Kazakhstani syllables!), but congratulations to the person submitting the first 100% response…

@visibleprocrast

Not only were all answers correct, but they were entertaining as well. Drop us an email with your address and we’ll have the wine in the post before you can say Nibali*.

In fact, many of you had me laughing at the answers, which made the task of reading through them all a lot more fun than it otherwise would have been. Apologies to all who mourned the absence of a Roche question and chapeau to all of you who played along.

Here are some of my favourite answers:

What is the relationship between Radioshack DS Alain Gallopin and rider Tony Gallopin?

  • Alain is Tony’s Uncle, or Tony is Alain’s Nephew, but neither are related to Stephen Roche. @hhhneil

How many kids does Jens Voigt have?

  • Six Children however we are all created from his loins @SkillsyOz

Where was Chris Froome born?

  • Chris was born in Kenya. Kenya’s capital is Bilharzia, according to Paul, or perhaps it’s their national export. @hhhneil

How old is Jens Voigt?

  • The Jensie was usually 40 during the tour, but according to Phil he was 41 during his breakaway on the Champs Elysees @hhhneil
  • 40 years of age, although when P&P got into the sherry, he had aged up to 41 @ButteredFrog
  • As old as the world he created and 40 at lay person terms @SkillsyOz

Which Velits twin is older?

  • There was a mix up at the hospital and they dropped one as the other popped out. Martin on a technicality and degree of difficulty of 5.8 with a double pike turn @SkillsyOz

According to the wisdom of Paul Sherwen, where should you always ride in the peloton?

  • According to the wisdom of Sherwin you should always ride at the front of the peloton, in the first 30 riders. Unfortunately due to maths and physics this leaves 100+ riders with a spatial-temporal conundrum. @visibleprocrast

What was the breed of the dog involved in the Philippe Gilbert accident in stage 18?

  • A big black … Pyrenean Mountain Dog? I can’t agree with P&P on this as the dog is clearly black and the Pyrenean Mountain Dog is white. It seems that we may have to settle with “large black dog”. @visibleprocrast
  • Are you sure it was a dog – they all claim it was as big as a pony! 🙂 And it was black, and furry… and rather cute to be honest @Bourbondini

How much did the dog weigh?

  • 50kg (in comparative terms; more than Sammy Dumoulin) @visibleprocast

In what should you pack your courage?

  • A suitcase, or in a pinch a manbag will do @hhhneil
  • A suitcase and not the handbag of doubt @SkillsyOz

= = = = = = = = = = =

*Well, before you can exhaust all the possible ways of saying “Nibali”.

 

 

Have you been paying attention?

We’ve listened to many hours of Phil Liggett’s and Paul Sherwen’s commentary over the course of this Tour and have probably learned a little bit more about certain competitors than we might have needed – or even wanted – to. It would be such a pity to let all that newly acquired knowledge go to waste, so here it is: the 2012 Tour de France quiz.

Email your answers to us by 8:30pm AEST tomorrow (Wednesday 25 July). The winner will be the first person with a 100% correct entry OR the person with the highest score should some of these questions stump you all.  The winner will receive a bottle of Domaine Bellegarde Jurançon Sec “La Pierre Blanche” 2006 provided by our supporters, DiscoverVin.

Family

  • What is the relationship between Radioshack DS Alain Gallopin and rider Tony Gallopin?
  • How many kids does Jens Voigt have?
  • Why did Fabian Cancellara withdraw from the 2012 Tour?

 Origin

  • Where was Chris Froome born?
  • Where was Bradley Wiggins born?
  • What was the nationality of Wiggins’ father?

 Age

  • How old is Jens Voigt?
  • How old is Peter Sagan?
  • Which Velits twin is older?

Tour History

  • On which climb did 2010’s “Chaingate” occur?
  • What happened to Sandy Casar on stage 18 in the 2007 Tour?
  • How many Tours de France has George Hincapie ridden?
  • How many British riders have won the Tour de France?

Strategy

  • According to the wisdom of Paul Sherwen, where should you always ride in the peloton?
  • Where in the peloton does David Moncoutié prefer to ride?
  • How many kilometres will it take the peloton to chase down a breakaway with a 4 minute lead?

Gear

  • What is the shape of the chainring on Bradley Wiggins’ TT bike?
  • Whose bike did Peter Sagan ride to win the Slovak championship?

The burning questions

  • What was the breed of the dog involved in the Philippe Gilbert accident in stage 18?
  • How much did the dog weigh?
  • Which bone did Tony Martin fracture?
  • Name a mountain biker in the peloton.
  • How did Tejay van Garderen learn Dutch?
  • Which syllable did Phil emphasise when saying “Vinokourov” in 2012?
  • How many different pronunciations of Nibali did Phil and Paul use this tour? (Spell them out phonetically)
  • In what should you pack your courage?

 

 

Stage 20: Round-up

A gorgeous Parisian afternoon, a totally dominant team, and finally a win for a Briton in Le Tour.  We even got to see a bit of his sense of humour when he declared he was going to draw the raffle numbers from the podium.

I’m not sure that the planned live singing had the same effect as unexepected last minute Tina Arena singing had, or maybe it’s just that anthem sounded so very strange in that context. 

It was a lovely moment when the peloton sent Chris Horner and George Hincapie on ahead to enter the Champs Elysees first.  And I really enjoyed Jens Voigt motoring along in the breakaway and making Cav earn his final stage victory for the year.

For posterity I guess; trhe other jerseys were awarded to Peter Sagan (Green), Thomas Voeckler (KotM) and Tejay Van Garderen (White).

Thanks to all who joined us this year.  We’ve had a blast and have enjoyed “hanging out” with you on twitter and facebook.

Now dry your eyes with a kangaroo and join me in some final pics.

All together now (one last time?)

I was amused to see someone found our blog by googling “tejay van garderen shirtless” – I can’t give you that – but I can give you Tommy Veau-ckler at the beginning of the stage yesterday.  You can see the grins on the Liquigas team behind him, they were slow handclapping as well.

Tommy Voeckler changes shirt to the amusement of Team Liquigas

 This time last year Tina Arena sang the national anthem as Evans made sporting history by becoming the first Australian Tour winner. Today Cowdel spoke candidly of his feelings at the end of the 99th TdF

“Last year was a realisation of a career of dreams,” he said. “This year … it’s not full of disappointments, but certainly below expectations. Always, finishing off a Tour is a satisfaction.

“Winning is a lot more fun. This sport is a lot easier when you’re winning. When you’re having a bad time … it’s the hardest sport in the world.”

Champion indeed. 

A nice moment between Wiggo and Cuddles

It’s been interesting to read and see the media response to Wiggins win and Froome’s 2nd place and compare it to what we experienced here in Australia last year.

  Yes I did manage to find some Vache from the final stage:

 

#trolldj

Someone else found our blog by googling “what is trolldj Tour de France” – although not our invention, were proud to join the throng of folks congratulating #trolldj on a fantastic tour. Last night we heard a few remixes of favourites from throughout the tour, and a few that were tweeted during the last stage, so either #trolldj loves the twitters, or we’re plainly too obvious in our requests.  You’re got a year to dig out the more obscure ones folks!

#trolldj credit from SBS TV coverage

  • “Heaven” Emili Sande – opening montage showing highlights of Le Tour
  • “Moving Right Along” Kermit and Fozzie – as you would 🙂
  • Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) – Greenday lots of smiling and laughing riders on the last day heading in to Paris.
  • “Foux da Fafa” – Flight of the Conchords – another crowd favourite.
  • “Well Did You Evah” -Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby “What a swell party this is”
  • “Yellow” – Coldplay – der
  • “Parlez-Vous Francais” – Art vs Science “The Champs-Elysees is a busy street”
  • “Better” – Tom Baxter – Closing montage.

And finally – yes Injera – I did eat the ‘spreadable wedges”. In honour of the defending champion I thought I should do a little ‘us” vs “them playoff. Despite the “new and improved” stamp our La vache qui rit is still made in Poland and still tastes a lot worse than good old Kraft cheese wedges.  The 70% more calcium is a touch troubling as well.

70% more calcium!

 

Fantasy League: results

Well, it’s all over! Thanks to those members of Team Vaches who joined the “Les Vaches du Tour” fantasy league. Congrat-moo-lations go to the Directeur Sportif of Make Some Noise, our winning team with 2094 points. Thanks also to Fractal Peanut Noir for keeping Moooooving Right Along company in the Lanterne Rouge.

Is Make Some Noise your team? If so, send me an email so we can talk prize choice.

Until next year…

Allez Les Vaches!

Stage 19: Round-up

I don’t think I paced myself well – I should have saved some of yesterday’s analytical thoughts for today. Today – the day after the ITT that meant little, unless someone fell off or it rained (which I didn’t wish for, don’t get me wrong).

Wiggo showed us that he really can TT (which we kinda knew already) – beating the times of Christopher Froome and Moois Leon Sanchez, not only winning the stage but increasing his lead in the yellow jersey comp.

And to be honest, a drinking competition to the mentions of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Chartres (#drink!), when the stage finished in Chartres for every rider in the field, probably wasn’t the best idea I’ve had.

Although we saw no Vache of any kind at all on this stage, I couldn’t resist snapping some moments to share with you.

The obligatory Field Art showed us fields and fields of wheat – and not a cow in sight.

 

The “Shiny Shiny” (but not as “Shiny Shiny” as last year’s) Astana TT skin suit.

and BMC multi-tasking team manager John Lelangue was shown doing what he does best, everything!

 

 

I’ve been enjoying reading some of the commentary floating about on the Team Sky/Wiggins/Froome situation.

From Velocast

And Jens Voigt

The Australian Financial Review’s take on it

But at the end of the day I guess this photo says it all … (including ewwww)

Tweeted by Robbie Hunter “And ppl say They don’t like each other. Maybe they do more than we think..ha ha”

#trolldj

  • “Ready to Go” – Panic! At the Disco –  the starting house, the countdown, the beginning of the TT
  • “This is Gonna Be Good” – Randy Newman
  • “Happiness” – Sam Sparro
  • The Real Things” – Russell Morris a tribute to Wiggo.

Wonder what we’ll find to chat about tomorrow?

 

Stage 20: Rambouillet > Paris Champs-Élysées

We’re heading into Paris today. The jersey wearers are all sorted, so this 120km stage is bound to feel a bit flat for more than just topographic reasons. Let’s try to think back 12 months to get a feeling for how excited British fans will be as they watch the usual final day champagne-and-posing antics while the peloton cruises towards the Champs-Élysées. And let’s all get behind Matt Goss to break up Sky’s domination of the day and finish the Tour with a stage win for Orica GreenEdge.


Rough outline of the Stage 20 route

If you select photos in Google Maps, you will see that there are some nice architectural features that have been shot along the route. There’s even a rather large goose in a field, but no vaches. As Essjaymoo discovered when researching last year’s roll into Paris, this is not an area that is rich in the bounty of the bovine. The LVDT team was reduced to sampling a range of processed cheeses last year. Those cows may laugh, but it’s a task I’m not willing to endure again, even in the name of LVDT research. I’m sure nothing has changed in those tried and *ahem* true recipes, anyway. What corporation is willing to risk a New Coke debacle these days?

What I’m planning to do to honour all the lovely cows we’ve seen over the past few weeks is to bring beef and dairy together by cooking a simple steak with a locationally-appropriate Café de Paris butter. This recipe from Australian Gourmet Traveller even includes frites. Well, why not?

It would be a bit of an anti-climax to have a final stage preview with no pictures of cows, so here is a photo from the 1926 Tour de France:

She looks like a Montbéliarde – what say you, Team Vaches?

 Image: Museum Syndicate

Thanks for joining us on our second Tour de France avec vaches. It’s been a fun ride.  Of course, there’ll be a round-up post tomorrow, as well as the announcement of the winning team in the Fantasy League!

And stay tuned for our wrap-up competition, which will go live on the blog on Tuesday at 8.30pm AEST.

Stage 18: Round-up

*Yaaaawwnnnn*  … hello everyone.  Hope you made time for a nap during last night’s stage? No? You were all wide awake trying to spot cows?  Really? Hmmmm …

WELL WHERE WERE THEY?

And, no, these guys – cute as they are – do not count.

Cute, but not Vache

I guess we really can’t complain. We’ve had some terrific Vache spottings this tour and I think (although I haven’t done the stats yet*) that we’ve seen many more than last year.

I’m very pleased that they have all been very well-behaved Vache too; unlike those ones in the Dauphine last year, or the big black furry dog from this stage. It’s a terrible shame that spectators haven’t learned yet not to bring animals to the tour that aren’t controlled. Unfortunately the only vision on the incident that the ever-resourceful Injerarufus could find also featured Gilbert berating the owners, who were cowering behind their young daughter. No winners from this moment.

But Cowvendish gave us a real thrill at the end of the stage.  He made it the whole way through the mountains, carting water bottles and rain jackets, he didn’t leave early to prepare for the Olympics, and he earned his star-studded Sky lead out train of Wiggo and EBH. The peloton caught a strong breakaway with mere metres to spare and then, the little man FLEW! I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone ride that quickly on the road. Amazing. Good one Cav!

The uninteresting stage gave me some time for reflection  – was this the most boring tour I’ve watched? Maybe. Without many of the individual stars – like the God of Thunder, and the promise of a Schleck sandwich, or Fabian Cancellara’s sweet smile on the podium – I did find it lacklustre.

I vacillate between admiring Team Sky and disliking them. Watching them after the stage win last night and seeing the genuine joy shared by Wiggo and Cav makes my heart sing a little bit.  But Stage 17 where Wiggo or Team Sky just weren’t prepared to let Froome have a bit of a run at it broke my heart a little.

Overall I blame the lack of genuine GC contenders for the predictable nature of the Tour.  Sure, it’s been a fantastic result for Great Britain, Team Sky and Wiggo, but there really weren’t enough teams to challenge the tactics and the spreadsheets of Team Sky.  Any team competition knows that you need your talent spread amongst a number of teams to make it an interesting competition and that just didn’t happen this year. What effect even one more GC contender might have had on the result is interesting to contemplate. The placement of the two individual TTs (one just before the Alps) must be questioned.

I want to see a Team TT as well as an individual TT.

The GreenEDGE boys tried again and again, and were mixing it up at the right end of the peloton again. You’d have to rate this a success for them, and see it as laying a foundation for next year.

Over the line we saw Cav, Rogers and Sagan. Overall we’ve got Wiggo, Froome and Nibali. Vino earned Most Combative and the white jersey still sits with Tejay van Garderen.

#trolldj

  • “Now or Never” from Thirsty Merc
  • “Let the Good Times Roll” by Georgie Fame
  • “Here I go Again” – Whitesnake

So two more days of riding with little chance of Vache on either them. I’m looking forward to catching up on the #tourdesnack hashtags and reading some of the interesting cycling blogs.

 

* and may never do them.

Stage 19: Bonneval > Chartres

It’s the final chance to shake up the CG placings today in this 53.5km time trail, but is there any shakeability left in this race? Particularly over this course? It’s pretty flat, heading out of Bonneval towards Chartres via country roads, and was always predicted to favour the strong time triallists: Fab, Martin, Evans, Wiggins, Menchov. Well, Fab and Martin are long gone from the Tour (I’ll take a quiet moment to mourn the lost opportunity to admire Fab’s exceptional… power output) and Evans and Menchov are 9’57” and 22’42” behind Wiggins, respectively. We can hope that Evans is strong enough to make a good showing tonight, and it will be interesting to see how van Garderen performs after his strong outing in the Besançon time trial. Clearly Wiggins and Froome have been stand-out competitors in this format so far and they will have the added benefit of knowing exactly what times they are up against. Barring absolute disasters on the course, surely not much will change in the top 10. (Click here for the start schedule and don’t forget to add 8 hours for AEST!)

This could, therefore, be something of a trial for viewers. We have most likely exhausted our supplies of witty skinsuit-related repartee (that is unless the Astana outfitters have read of our disappointment over the low-sheen of this year’s lycra and have ordered replicas of last year’s kit). With riders going out at predetermined times, the likelihood of decent name-mangling by the Ps is low. And there might not be vaches.

That’s right. We could be vache-less.

The Departement of Eure-et-Loir is where we find ourselves for this penultimate stage and its economy is based on agriculture. Unfortunately for Team Vaches, this leadership in agricultural production comes in the form of rapeseed oil and wheat. Other notable contributions to the economy include rubber and plastics, pharmaceuticals and… well just guess what comes out of the Cosmetic Valley cluster. If this excites you, and your enthusiasm is further ignited by wind farms and photovoltaic parks, this might just be the stage for you. For those dedicated to all things cow? Not so much.

The Centre region has a number of gastronomic specialties, none of which involve cows in any way1. There are some lovely goats cheeses, rillettes, tarte tatin and the Andouillette au Vouvray sausage. I like these things as much as the next person (okay, so slightly less if the next person likes andouillette), but the input from cattle is fairly minimal. Things are looking bleak from a vache point of view…

I know I’m drawing a very long bow here, but this little find has given me a glimmer of hope that areas best known for their crops still offer options for cow tragics. Here’s a group of people from a state where the unofficial song is the “Iowa Corn Song” showing their commitment to cows and bikes over a period of several years and many more miles in the saddle. I’m talking about Team Cow Iowa, otherwise known as The Udder Team. They wear their dedication to the cow with pride, and appear to have a healthy – but friendly – rivalry with the Wisconsin DairyAirs.

So, yes… perhaps it is optimistic of me to see this as an omen, but we have to get something vachey out of tonight, don’t we? Maybe a combined effort of positive thinking and the precedent of last night’s donkeys will bring us something like this:

Image: A Twisted Spoke

 We can only hope!

= = = = = = = = = = = = =

1. Obviously apart from the butter needed for the taste tatin. Clearly they are shipping that in. And, anyway, it would fail a Masterchef test that required the contestant to “make the cow the hero of the dish”.

Stage 18: Blagnac > Brive-la-Gaillarde

“Long, flat… hot”, according to Stephen Roche, which is just what the remaining riders will be wanting to hear after nearly three weeks in the saddle. This stage has four categorised climbs, which might lead you to view the adjective “flat” with suspicion, but these things are all relative. The first two climbs are 1km long each, with the Côte de Saint-George classified as a 3 and the Côte de Cahors at 4. They start at 66.5 and 116.5km respectively with the intermediate sprint 1.5km before the second climb. The second two climbs – the Côte de Souillac and the Côte de Lissac-sur-Couze – start at around 178km and 210.5km. Expect to see Cowvendish chase some personal glory after nearly two weeks of team sacrifice. Sagan’s internal dialogue over the past few stages might be well-represented by the parody account @TweeterSagan, but hopefully he has also spent time dreaming up a new celebratory dance. If a certain Sandy Casar gets anywhere near a break, stay tuned for another mention of his run-in with a dog, which happened on this stage (which he won) five years ago.

A browse around the web led me to this 2010 Tour de France diary entry from Jens Voigt, which gives me some hope that “long, hot… boring” stages equal quality cow viewing. Quality for us, that is. Jens seemed to have lost interest in the bovine scenery.

But really, it was a long and boring stage. At one point I started thinking of great books that I had read, anything to keep my mind off the racing. I mean we had nothing to do but look at the cows and grass all day, and since looking at cows and grass doesn’t make you any smarter, I thought I would try to help myself by thinking of books.

Jens Voigt Diary, Bicycling

(Please tell me I’m not the only one reading Jens’ diary in his voice…)

Tonight’s stage starts in Mirandaise country and ends in the home of the Limousin. We met the Mirandaise when the Tour travelled from Cugnaux to Luz-Ardiden last year. Shortly after the Tour rolled through in 2011 the Madeleine festival took place in Montesqiueu, a couple of hours west of today’s starting point.

Created to celebrate the Mirandaise, a historically important local cattle breed that also attracted Italians and Spanish to the region, this thousand-year-old fair will bring producers and the local communities together over two days.

Terra Madre

The festival was organised in conjunction with Slow Food and the Mirandaise Ox Presidium which they established to promote this beautiful breed.

Fevette

Image: Grasspunk

Last year we used a different photo from the Grasspunk blog to illustrate the post about these cattle. [Click the link for a good overview of the origins of the breed.] When I revisited the blog, I read about bc’s decision to say goodbye to the Mirandaise to focus on Salers. It’s really worth clicking through to the farewell post – it provides a lot of insight into the nature of this breed and it’s also good to know that the Mirandaise have gone to farmers who are extending their own herds.

Essjaymoo talked us through the advantages of the Limousin last year so I won’t repeat her words, but I can’t resist re-posting the gorgeous photo taken by DiscoverVin:

It seems altogether fitting that DiscoverVin’s Tour wine for tonight – the Chateau Haut Monplaisir Prestige-AOC Cahors-Rouge 2006 – is recommended as the perfect foil for a steak. Ideal for a simple Friday night dinner! The local cheese is the Pas de l’Escolette, about which little information is available. Most cheeses from the region tend to be made from goat and sheeps milk – this cows milk cheese is only made in small quantities in spring and summer and is hard to find unless you happen to be in the area. Perhaps this can be your CFD for le Tour?

Stage 17: Round-up

Tonight – tonight we were promised a “Short stage, with a violent start” [cue spooky orchestral music, thunder clashes etc]. Tonight we would see the polka dot jersey decided and by the end of the stage we’d know who we’d be dining with in the Hall of the Mountain King!  Oh yeh! [cymbal clash, thunder crash]

But first, the convenors of this wonderful coverage of Le Tour would surprise, confuse and freak.us.out a bit. One of the little community games that has sprung up around twitter is calling the time when Phil and Paul will “catch” Matt Keenan on the commentary.  Last night though things were a bit shady, a bit “online betting bizarre”. Matt’s dulcet tones started the commentary as usual, to be replaced by Phil and Paul… only to be replaced by Matt Keenan again! wot? When P&P returned they casually mentioned going for a cup of tea.  Some of us mentioned that perhaps the horrible gastro bug that seems to be making it’s way around the peloton had reached the commentary team.  Right then – on with the race.

Today Little Tommy Veau-ckler proved time and time again that he was wearing that polka-dot jersey because he was the best climber. Kessiakoff tried many attacks; sneaking around him, a long sprint time, a short sprint time, just going as hard and as long as he could, waiting for TV to make a move, making the move himself. Nothing worked. TV crossed the summits first and cleared up the points. these two battled each other, fog and stupid spectators to finalise the polka dot jersey comp.

Wiggo did what Wiggo does, and Sky kept the peloton under control for most of the race. But I doubt if Wiggo had a happy day in the team bus as when the drizzle started he had to go and get HIS OWN RAIN VEST! woah!

Valverde took control of the race and won the stage convincingly.  Nibali and Leeky-gas (not a Welsh team as Injera reminded us) tried but were thwarted by the pure power and professionalism that is Team Sky.

Some parts of the stage featured no attacks, no fog, no Vache … thank goodness P&P had #chaingate to fall back on – remember the time when Andy Schleck’s chain slipped off and … *snore*

Vache!

(Thank goodness)

 

74.8

74.7

58.7

Closing Montage

 

#trolldj

  • “Days Like This” – Van Morrison “When it’s not always raining – there’ll be days like this” – Misty, foggy, and I reckon a bit cold.
  • “Here Comes Your Man” – Pixies with pics of Tommy Veau-ckler clearing summits
  • It’s Not Where You Start” Rowlf (Muppets) “Its not where you start it’s where you finish”
  • “Mission Impossible Theme” – pics of Cadel 🙁

 

And no … I’m not mentioning naked guy.