Stage 10: Round-up

Advantage Wiggins?

A new Col for Le Tour, but the stage didn’t pan out the way I expected. In the end I think the summit of Col du Grand Colombier was too far away from the finish line for it to truly be the game changing stage I’d hoped for.  Team Sky looked strong and were certainly strong enough to keep Wiggo out of trouble and he arrived home at the same time as Cowdel. Still we get to the see the longest, slowest “sprint” finish in memory.

A fast start to the stage at an average of almost 50km/hour for the first hour. Two smaller breakways, including one featuring green jersey holder Peter Sagan,  were caught up leaving a group of 25 riding out front and preparing for the first climb where early dotty points were won by MoreCow, Grivko, TheJensie and Veau-ckler.

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Stage 10: Mâcon > Bellegarde-sur-Valserine

Today’s 194.5km stage includes the first Hors Category climb of the 2012 Tour: the 1,501m Col de Grand Colombier, another climb making its debut this year. Before attacking this climb, riders will negotiate the Cat 2 Côte de Corlier (90km). The intermediate sprint point comes at 130.5km and the serious climbing starts almost immediately. It’s not all downhill from Colombier to the finish; the Cat 3 Col de Richemond breaks up the descent into Bellegarde-sur-Valserine. Prior to the Tour starting, this was earmarked as an Andy Schleck stage. With him out, it will be interesting to see if Fränk takes up the attack. He is currently 17th in the general classification (8’19” behind the yellow jersey), so stage wins probably feature in his revised Tour goals. Evans is still in second place, 1’53” behind Wiggins, and Froome is looking very strong in third, with a 2’07” deficit. Nibali and Menchov round out the top five. The peloton is now down to 177 riders, with 20 having withdrawn as a result of injury and one having been arrested. Ah, yes, the magic of le Tour. As The Inner Ring tweeted:

Kudos to the French police who found Rémi di Gregorio because nobody watching the race has seen him.

Onto the vaches!

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Stage ten: round-up

I am pleased to report that the no les vaches = more crash nexus has been broken.  Phew!  This meant that last night’s stage was one we could all watch without peering between our fingers, but it also meant that the cow sightings were slim.  I’m happy to go with that, though.

If seeing actual Salers, Aubracs or even Limousins was off the Team Les Vaches menu last night, it has become clear that there is a pervasive fondness for all things cow amongst fans and even pro-cyclists.  Team Radioshack’s Fumiyaki Beppu is not competing in this years Tour, but he was on Twitter yesterday sharing some pictures he’d taken in Bordeaux.  “Big deal”, I hear you sigh. “Who cares about his Akita?” .  Well, for a start, it’s a very cute dog (check his tweetstream) but we were keen on his photos because of this:

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Stage 10: Aurillac > Carmaux

Hope everyone has had a good night’s sleep on the rest day – I know my fingers need a break from typing quickly “Les Vaches” and sending it to twitter.  If you do tweet, join us at @lesvachesdutour during the stages.  We’re there for general race discussion as well as cow spotting, and love a bit of a #trolldj guessing game.

As Le Tour heads off south again towards the Pyrenees (still!), we spend a couple of days travelling through the Cévennes mountains, with today’s ride featuring 2 category three climbs and 2 category four climbs and a downhill finish.

We’re all hoping for less crashes and more les vaches as we continue to the Midi-Pyrenees area.

We may see some Salers cows around today as this is their native region. This hardy breed dates back a long time and its winter milk (from when the cows are fed hay) is used to make Cantal cheese one of the oldest cheeses in France. Apparently Pliny the Elder mentions cantal cheese in his writings.  Cantal cheese is traditionally used in the cheesy mashed potato dish we told you about yesterday, Aligot.  The summer milk, from when the cows have been grazing on meadows and fresh grass, is used to make Salers cheese.

Image: jacme31

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Pyrenees Cheese and Wine

Sometimes  I wonder why I write this blog… all for fun… no remuneration… oh… umm… oops – yes well – umm… now that you mention it… yes that *is* in fact the  aftermath of a recent wine and cheese tasting – all in the name of Les Vaches of course.   Ahem.

 

So – one of our fabulous supporters, DiscoverVin, knows an awful lot about the wines of South West France, around those wonderful Pyrenees mountains. The Tour is travelling anti-clockwise this year so around Stage 10 (July 12) the tour will head down towards the Pyrenees.

So you’ve got a bit of time to get organised – but DiscoverVin and our good selves have done some of the hard work for you.  Yes – what to drink and what cheese to eat!  The wines come in a handy six-pack, ready for you. The cheese was chosen with the assistance of Anthony Femia, cheesemonger (and proud cow-respondent!) who takes care of the cheese at the Richmond Hill Cafe and Larder.

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