This 33km time trial is relatively flat and will be Tony Martin’s chance to take something other than cuts and bruises away from this Tour. To be honest, I’m finding it difficult to get excited about this stage. For a start, time trials started to lose some of their mystique when riders decided to don skinsuits for a trip to the shops instead of keeping them for “best”. Then there’s the small matter of who’s not there. I did propose on Twitter that perhaps Fabian Cancellara could be invited as a wild card to contest this stage only but it seems that idea has only received traction in quarters that don’t count. Anyway, it’s bound to be scenic, although even the picturesque finish of Mont-St-Michel was previewed during stage 10, so no visual surprises await.
Another reason that I’m not overly enthusiastic about the stage is that we visited a couple of days ago and spotted no vaches whatsoever. Some of the postcards of Mont-Saint-Michel had sheep grazing in the foreground, but 1. SHEEP and 2. they must have been shipped (or ‘shopped) in, as no photogenic livestock were in evidence. Of course, I predicted a cavalcade of cows yesterday and look how prescient that was…!
There are cows in Normandy, if not necessarily this part of the region, so let’s say hello once again to the lovely Normande.
Image: New Hope Normandes
It seems Phil and Paul were talking about Vikings yesterday, and this is one of the breeds said to have Viking roots. Whatever their provenance, they are striking beasts, usually red and white (although sometimes dark brown) with “spectacle” markings around their eyes. Their milk is prized for it’s suitability for cheese-making, so this is one of the key stages to put together a cheese board for your Tour snacks. You have a vast array of Normandy cheeses to choose from, and you shouldn’t have too much trouble picking these up where ever you are in the world.