Stage 13: Pau > Lourdes

Tonight’s stage takes us from Pau, which is a regular stop on the Tour route, to Lourdes, which is hosting the finish for only the second time in Tour history.  Before the cyclists reach Lourdes, they will have to climb the hors catégorie Col d’Aubisque.  Let’s hope the roads are bone dry, as Lourdes is at the end of around 40km of descending. We are still in the magnificent Pyrenees and therefore still in the home of the seriously endangered French Pyrenees cattle breeds.  In yesterday’s stage preview we met the Aure et Saint-Girons, and tonight we’ll take a look at the two others: Lourdais and Béarnais.

Let’s start with the stage’s eponymous cow, the Lourdais.  There’s really not a lot I can tell you about this beast and, to be honest, we are unlikely to get a sighting of one tonight.  Whilst these days cattle are generally seen as “dairy” or “beef” breeds, with some cross-overs, this is a relatively recent development. Historically, cattle were all-rounders, and the Lourdais is described as

certainly the best all-rounder of all the Pyrenean breeds, with good physical proportions and good milk production of 20 liters a day after giving birth, without the use of special food rations.

Oklahoma State University

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