In the official race guide, this stage prompts a trip down memory lane to a time way back in 2010 when the yellow jersey changed hands five times by stage nine. Ahhhh, good times. Will this 187.5 km stage spark the beginning of some interesting wardrobe changes? We shall see. We’re in the Jura and the climbs start just after the halfway point of the stage: Cat 3, Cat 2, Cat 1 with 10 km between the summit of the final climb and the Station des Rousses to potentially shake the finishing places up. Let’s hope the roadside randoms keep a respectful distance.
To the cows! We will be looking for Montbéliarde and French Simmental, as these produce the milk used for the local cheeses.
Let’s start with the Comté, a semi-hard cheese that can only be called comté if it meets a number of criteria. One of these is that the milk must come from Montbéliarde or French Simmental, or cross breeds of these. The population density of the cattle is also mandated: no more than 1.3 cows per hectare (I’m not sure what that is in MCGs) . Cows must only be fed natural feed, and the milk has to go straight to the cheese maker after milking. There are a range of other qualifications as well as distinct gradings of the final product. It’s all worth it, producing a thoroughly delicious cheese!
Another local cheese is Morbier, which was traditionally produced with curd leftover from Comté production. The layer of ash in the centre of the cheese was to protect the curds from the morning cheesemaking, and then topped up from the evening leftovers. These days, the cheese is made in a mould, and then halved to add the ash or food colouring. Why not have one of each of the stage cheeses on a platter?
The Jean Bourdy Côtes du Jura Rouge 2013, which is The Drinks List’s selection for this stage, is recommended with a soft stinky cheese and charcuterie. Sounds like a pretty good Saturday evening in to me.