Stage 15: Bourg-en-Bresse > Culoz

Up, up, up! We’re back into the climbs with très nombreux points on offer for the pois competition today. This 160km stage has six categorised climbs, starting with the Cat 1 Col du Berthiand, starting at the 16.5km mark. Riders will then tackle the Col du Sappel, the Col de Pisseloup (a good spot for a natural break, you’d have thought) and the Col de la Rochette before the big one: the Grand Colombia which, according to Google Translate, means Large Dovecote. At 1,501m, that’s either a lot of doves, or one very lucky bird. There’s one final chance for the laces to come undone on the Lacets du Grand Colombier before the final descent into Culoz.

Will our Quintana disappointment continue? Will Froome add to his lead? More importantly, will we see vaches?

There should be cows… somewhere. There is a local blue cheese – Bleu de Bresse – made from cow’s milk, although it is not made from the milk of any specific breeds. Let’s be on the lookout for a variety of dairy cattle, then.

1024px-Vache_Montbéliarde

Montbéliarde

Image: PRA

You might not be able to find Bleu de Bresse here. It’s a creamy blue cheese, described by the Canada Cheese Man as “blue cheese for beginners”. His daughter might have a future in cycling commentary, as her description of this cheese is straight from the backhanded compliment playbook: “It was better than I thought it would be.” My advice, then, is to find a blue cheese you enjoy, and… enjoy it!

Anyway, since we are spotting general dairy cattle, I found this post about French farming by Tammi Jonas and thought it might be of interest. See you on twitter tonight!

 

Stage 12: Bourg-en-Bresse > Saint-Etienne

Assuming that Talansky makes a start today, the peloton is at 179 riders. Nibali is looking comfortable in yellow, with Rodriguez rocking the red-knicks-polka-dots combo and Sagan holding on to the green. Richie Porte starts today in second place and Valverde is in third. This 185.5km stage takes us through the Beaujolais mountains with four categorised climbs, but it’s feeling distinctly Glühwein in these parts. Is this a sign? Will Marcel Kittel bring it home for the cattle? Will we even see what’s happening at the front of the race or will we get the derrière of the peloton again tonight?

The cow forecast should be looking fairly rosy. We are approaching Charolais country and Beth noted these blond beasts at the top of the second climb.

stuckinoregon_2014-Jul-17Sure, it’s possible that they’re sheep… but let’s go with cows.

We might even catch a glimpse of the Ferrandaise. This is not the first time we’ve tried and we haven’t been successful in the past, but perhaps we will be lucky this time.

Ferrandaise16

Image: Jean Colas

In 2011 we discovered that the breed was endangered, having dwindled from an early 20th century population of over 70,000 to a mere 700 or so but last year we found signs that its popularity – or, at least, its marketability – might be increasing. According to the folk at EuReCa, it is trending upwards!

What should we be eating and drinking tonight? Anything to stay warm and awake. I heartily recommend a chipotle hot chocolate but it’s  neither geographically appropriate nor a good food match. Same can be said for glühwein, I guess…  It’s probably to late to hit the cheesemonger for a Bleu de Bresse, but clearly this is the cheese pick for tonight. If you have any “rich and buttery” blue cheese, you are in the ballpark.