Stage 4: Seraing > Cambrai

Stage four will provide Paul Sherwen with a number of opportunities to use the word “undulations”, so my advice is to cross that word off your drinking card given that it’s still early in the week. The 223.5km route has its only climbing points at 53km, the category 4 Côte de la Citadelle de Namur, however it’s the seven cobbled sections we’re tuning in for. With Fabs sadly out of the Tour after stage 3 (how he managed to finish with his injuries, I will never know), this might be a battle of the hair: Sagan with his flowing mane versus Degenkolb with his Alpecin-enhanced locks. Don’t rule out BMC’s Greg van Avermaet, either. Naturally, I’m still hoping for the World Champion to put on a show, too.

To the cows, and we had some great sightings last night. I’m not sure that they’ll be topped tonight. Again, we could see some of the Blues, as well as some more Holsteins.

Belgian blue with twin calves

Belgian blue with twin calves

Image: Lizzie

There is a local cow’s milk cheese for tonight – the tome de Cambrai. It’s a relatively new cheese, created by  a farmer in the region in 1989. It’s a hard, raw milk cheese, ripened in beer. An alternative, suggested by Geert, is the Chimay cheese (Melburnians can find it at Milk the Cow and Richmond Hill). Or perhaps you’ve still got some Maroilles or a similar washed rind cheese to keep you both happy and connected to the countryside we’re seeing.

Gabriel Gaté is making a crème brûlée tonight as his nod to the region’s sugar beets. Of course, I’m on board given the dairy component! If you’d like to try a local savoury dish, use some of your beer-washed cheese (and google translate) for these veal medallions.


Stage 2: Visé > Tournai

Tonight we leave Liège and head through Namur en route to Tournai, in Hainaut. There is only one categorised climb – a four at 82.5km – but the route should give Paul and Phil plenty of opportunities to use the word “undulating”. The intermediate sprint point is at 153km, 54.5km before the finish, and it’s likely that the green jersey hopefuls will be chasing as many points as they can both here and at the finish.

The start town is Visé, which I reckon is close enough to Limbourg to excuse a quick trip over the provincial border for some Limburger. It’s described as tasting “milder than the aroma suggests”, with the American version being still milder (Roberta Muir). Still, it’s pungency was notable enough to inspire this Abbott and Costello sketch.

Last night’s stage was rich in bovine beauty and we can hope for more of the same tonight. Perhaps we might spot some Belgian Reds. The breed is from Western Flanders and is considered endangered, but who knows…  Doesn’t this look similar to one of the groups from last night?

Continue reading