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Stage 3: Granville > Angers

Well, last night’s stage had us all on the edges of our barbecues, willing all-day breakaway Stuyven to the finish… until the catch was suddenly on and we realised that his seemingly winning gap was over the yellow jersey, not over the chasing sprinters who were only metres behind. In the end, Sagan took the stage victory and the yellow and green jerseys, Cavendish finished 1’43” down but will start the stage in green, and Stuyven will don the dots (probably not much consolation after such game racing yesterday). Contador’s shocking start to the Tour continued with another crash, but his disappointment will be eclipsed by that of Richie Porte who found himself alone and in need of a new wheel within the final 5km. He starts today 1’59” down.

So what’s in store for stage three? A 223.5km stage set for the sprinters, although all TrollDJ fans will be hoping for a finish with a lone breakaway being pursued by a pack, so we can get Don’t Look Back in Anger over a slow motion montage of the finish*.

As for potential vaches-related points of interest, the cattle we should look out for today (apart from excellent field-art representations) are the Maine-Anjou, particularly as we head into Mayenne. They are a beef breed, generally dark red with some white patches.

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Image: Jean-Baptiste Bodinier

A local cheese is Port-Salut, which is a semi-soft cows milk cheese, with a brined rind. It was originally produced by Trappist monks at the abbey of Notre Dame du Port du Salut in Entrammes, however you can have a crack at making some yourself, if you are so inclined. That would certainly take your tour snacks to the next level. If you are in a position to trouve some quenelles très bonnes at your local supermarché, you could try this local dish, which is laden with dairy products.

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* I wish I could remember who suggested this in Stage 1 – put your hand up for credit if it was you!

 

Stage four: round-up

Even before the race started, we had cows!  Cowrespondent Chris, of the YarraBUG Radio team, tweeted a link to the weather cam on the Brittany coast, near Morbihan.  Essjaymoo checked it out and noticed cows.

This buoyed our hopes of a cow-friendly stage and we were not disappointed.  As early as 92.6km we were able to spot some beasts not dissimilar to the above cows. They were far too indistinct to even attempt a positive ID, so naturally I’m going to tell you that my prediction was correct and we spotted Maine-Anjou.  At 65.6km we got our first sighting of black pied cattle. Could it be a group of the rare Pie Noir?

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Stage 4: Lorient > Mûr-de-Bretagne

Another day in Brittany and we are hoping to see a range of cows.  Those lovely Red Pied cows from yesterday’s post are not the only pied cattle of Brittany – the prized sighting tonight will be spotting one of the Pie Noir.

Image: ouest-france.fr

This breed was on the brink of extinction not long ago and at around 1600 head the herd is still small, but these bovines have attracted the support of some dedicated foodies who are credited with its re-emergence.  They are celebrated for their hardiness, their fertility, and the creaminess of their milk (the cows, that is, although perhaps the same could be said of their champions, the foodies).  The milk is used to produce cheese and the local yoghurt, gwell. “Huh, yoghurt, whatevs” I hear you scoff, but food blogger Carly describes gwell as one of the “five best dishes” she ate at a Slow Food conference.  You can read more about the Pie Noir and how its comeback has been carefully managed at the Slowfood Foundation page.

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