Stage 1: Porto Vecchio > Bastia

“Why isn’t there a prologue?” asks the official site, rhetorically. Those of us who are mourning the absence of the newly crowned Swiss National Time Trial Champion spit aggrievedly at the response: “Quite simply because we wanted to take the fullest advantage of Corsica”. That this is the first time on the island for the Tour would not be made any less memorable by the addition of a prologue in my opinion, but that is the last I will say of it.

The 100th Tour’s opener is a 212km stage with some ups-and-downs – including the category 4 climb of Côte de Sotta as the course loops back from Bonifacio to Porto-Vecchio. Still, it is predicted to be a sprinter’s stage and Cowvendish would look to be a strong favourite, fresh from his victory at the National Road Championships. Of course he’s not the only fast man on the road in a flashy new jersey, so it should be a hotly-contested finish.

But what about the cows?

The last thing the writer of a website celebrating cows wants to read is that the “national dish” of Corsica is a sheep/goats milk cheese. But it is, and it is called brocciu. I did find a mention of brousse, a cow’s milk alternative that is available in the summer months, but it is described as not nearly as good as the brocciu. Brocciu is not the only Corsican cheese, but it seems that this small island – although hosting a decent herd of cattle – is a shepherd’s delight.

Corsica does have an indigenous breed of cattle – the Corse. It is considered a “threatened” breed, which might seem strange to those who note that cattle roam freely and in rather threateningly large numbers on the island. As a result of  policy initiatives and subsequent back-tracks, previously subsidised cattle have been “freed” which appears to have not only compromised the Corse breed, but led to some less-than-friendly bovine-human interactions.

5041398-So_cute_CorsicaImage: Kokoryko

These cows might not be powering the local economy, but I’m hoping we spot some of the “dozy” beasts “snuffling along the sand” as the peloton makes its way up the coast.

This image was fittingly titled "Vache a la plage"

This image was fittingly titled “Vache a la plage”

Image: Dominique

What to eat? Well, there is a Corsican cheesecake you can whip up called Fiadone. Naturally, this is made with the aforementioned brocciu, however I’ve found a recipe that assures me you can substitute ricotta or cottage cheese, so let’s go with that.

Get your musettes ready, hide the remote control from anybody who thinks le Tour might not be essential viewing, and remember to hashtag any cow sightings with #lvdt. Keep me posted on the goings-on with #trolldj, too, as I’ll be living #sbstdf vicariously. Any screen grabs gratefully received!

Allez! Allez!