Almost 200km across the glorious Ardennes, 198 riders, five Cat 4 climbs, paddocks and paddocks of cows, and a nervous uphill finish full of spills and thrills. There wasn’t much missing from this stage of Le Tour.
Gabriel took us to Callebut chocolate factory to rub in that he’s in Belgium and we aren’t (I’m totally going to lay in supplies of chocolate and waffles and all the good things for the rest of the tour).
Team Sky started off resplendent in their controversial yellow helmets, which look a lot like Movistar helmets, and GreenEDGE helmets, but not as bad as the RaboBank “stack hats” (that’s an Aussie thing from when they introduced helmets here in the mid-eighties with a truly appalling early computer animation).
On the N90, you can cover the 14.6km between Liège and Seraing in 22 minutes, but what would be the fun in that? Instead, the route for stage one takes us for a 198 km loop through through Liège province, with a short detour into Luxembourg province. There are five Cat 4 climbs (one of which is right at the finish) and a sprint at 116.5km, but – more importantly – cheese and beer.
Whilst many members of team vaches were quick to note the cow in the introductory clip to Gabriel Gaté’s segment last night, it wasn’t the kind of sighting that truly satisfies the cow aficionado. Perhaps we will actually see some cattle on the land tonight. Keep your eyes peeled for those hulking Blues from yesterday’s post, but you might also spot a Belgian Red Pied.
Image: Kranky Kids
You’ve still got some cheese left over from last night, right? If not, the monks at the Orval Abbey produce cheese. You might find it tough to track the cheese down here, so console yourself with one of their beers. Of course, you can always celebrate les vaches – or vatches (Walloon) or vaques (Picard) – with some unsalted, cultured Carlsbourg butter from the Ardennes. iDeli can hook you up.