Stage 14: Round-up

Stage 14 had it all: an early (ultimately successful) attack; a subtle Chris Lilley tribute; the spectacle of sprinters climbing Cat 1 mountains at the head of the peloton; a dastardly act of sabotage; an ungentlemanly attack; and a gesture of sportsmanship from the yellow jersey that restored our faith in human nature. Wait, there’s something missing from that list… Cows! There were no cows! Now that I think about it, perhaps this was presaged in the Gabriel Gaté segment – for the first time this year he failed to use even a small knob of butter. Let’s tune in to possible subliminal messages from M. Gaté over the coming days.

Before joining the action, Dave McKenzie interviewed BMC’s John “Multitasking” Lelangue and I was disappointed to see that he seemed entirely focussed on the interview.

@ozwinereview pointed out that he was likely texting with his toes.

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Stage 14: Limoux > Foix

You may think we’ve already hit the wall with this year’s Tour, but we haven’t. The riders enter the Pyrenees in this 192km stage and will face The Wall today in the form of a brutal new Cat 1 climb, the Mur de Péguère, which starts at around the 143km mark. This 9.4km climb is described by the Cycling Weekly guide as a “killer”. The last 4km, with an average of 11% and sections kicking up to 18%, are “an absolute leg-breaker”. Prior to the wall is the Cat 2 Col du Portel at 30km and then the Cat 1 Port de Lers at 126.5km. The 38km into Foix which follows the summit of The Wall might soften the impact of the killer climb at the finish line. Cycling Weekly predicts that Wiggins could struggle with the ascent against Cowdell. Let’s hope that this is true and that the longer descent – chosen over the more direct 26km option for safety reasons – doesn’t allow him to get back into it!

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Stage fifteen: round-up

It was only appropriate, in hindsight, that the stage from Limooooooo would give Team Vaches the Tour’s best bovine experience.  Of course, it didn’t start promisingly.  The landscape the peloton rolled through was notable for the absence of pasture, dominated by the vines of the Languedoc.  Paul helpfully informed us that the vines produce 130,000 hectalitres of wine per year.  “Well that should keep Paul Sherwen in stead for the rest of the Tour de France,” was Phil Liggett’s dry rejoinder.  It was at about this point that the helicopter gave us a long view of the terrain to come.

Sky shot – not a vache in sight.

That tweet was enough to persuade me to set the recorder and abandon for the evening.

See: Cows with Guns for what happened next…

After the excitement of the Cow tribute, the rest of the stage was a bit of a blur (yes, even watching it in replay – once I’d seen that fabulous montage I had to remind myself to keep watching the race!).  The wind continued to attack the peloton as they battled towards Montpellier and the breakaway wasn’t able to keep the sprinters, eager for a last bit of glory before Paris, at bay.  Cowvendish was able to take the stage victory and keeps the green jersey.  There was no change for any of the “heads of state” or jersey holders, so they will all go to the rest day almost as satisfied by the stage as Team Vaches.  Almost.  I’m not sure they will be on quite the same high…

The montage is up at SBS Cycling Central. Vive les vaches!

 

 

Stage fourteen: round-up

It was the last stage in the Pyrenees and we had our sights set on the cattle, of course. There were reports of cows at 114.2km and 112km from those in Team Vaches who were watching the web coverage (thanks Kate and Andrew), but when the SBS coverage began at 101km the route was barren of bovines. The recap editor missed a chance fo show us the earlier cows, for some bizarre reason focussing on the climbs we’d missed.  Huh.  There was a sense of resignation, another cow free stage. At least Paul Sherwen was thinking of the geologists among us, discussing a source of chromium in the mountains. And then:
Well, what would be rather nice if we could spot round here, there is a very well-known rare race of cows, the belle Gascon.  They’re actually white cows, but the youngsters have a brown coat.
This alone would have made the stage a winner for Team Vaches, but it was about to get better.  A sighting!

Paul Sherwen will have to talk about cows more often - he conjured these up!

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Stage 14: Saint-Gaudens > Plateau de Beille

The last Pyrenees stage, and we’ve leaving on a high (hah!) note with six climbs in 168km along the Spanish border.  Easy! (umm… no not really). We can expect to see the leaders keeping a close eye on each other, and looking for opportunities to grab some time ahead of their rivals. No doubt you’ll hear this a few more times during the commentary tonight, but to get in first .. . note that every rider who has previously won at Plateau de Beille has gone on to the win the Tour that same year.

From a bovine point of view, we can expect to see some of the tough-hoofed Gasconne cattle, winners in the cattle race in Southern France.

Gasconne Muqueusus Noires

Image: Farming in France

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