Stage 16: Round-up

I guess the question is, can anyone/anything stop the yellow wiggle? I spent quite a lot of last night’s stage waiting in breathless anticipation for the attack that didn’t come until just before the final climb. When it did it came from Nibali, who actually managed to make Wiggins sweat a teeny bit.  Liquigas actually put the foot down at one stage, with Basso setting the pace for Nibali.  I’d forgotten Basso was even riding this tour.

So barring any unfortunate accidents the Yellow Caboose has run a text book tour campaign and will well deserve the winner’s spot. But tonight, the story was about the winner of the stage, and the loser. Tommy Voeckler (Veau-ckler to #TeamVache) finished ahead of Sorensen and Izaguirre in what can only be described as  a bloody hard slog.  Tommy’s facial expressions as he drove on and on became as much a part of the commentary as Jens’ age and “Nibali” mispronunciations. But his tongue must have super powers as he took home another stage in gurning style, earning himself the most combative award for the stage.

At one point I was distracted by something and when I looked back at the screen I saw close ups of trees and someone working their way through the branches – for a moment I thought the live stream has been taken over by Bear Grylls… but no – Chris Horner had taken a detour into the undergrowth. He appeared unharmed though and continued on after shaking the dirt from his ears.

The climbs were HC (have cheese?) and the descents were fast and furious; at one stage the bike riders were travelling faster than the moto carrying cameramen.

A large group of breakies was whittled down to 2 by the hard climbs and at one stage there were 6 groups displayed on tour tracker. One of these groups was labelled Group Evans, but we didn’t see the best from Cadel.  Suffering from a stomach bug (he’s not the first one to mention that in this year’s riders) he was obviously pained to be dragging himself over the hills. Bugger. TJ was in the break and held on to give himself a lead of 3:48 over Pinot in the Young Rider classification.

Good thing I was also on #VacheWatch. And luckily, SBS got into the spirit and provided live streaming from 7:30pm. If they have, we would have had an almost Vache-less stage.  As it was we got to glimpse many Vaches generally ignoring the riders.

This is what I was looking for …a Betizuak in front of snow-capped mountains and .. glitter!  Right.  Thanks @jaybeenesq for the postcard from your last jaunt to the Pyrenees.



I did tweet wondering where the cows were, and threatened to post pics of horses that we saw instead, but then an amazing thing happened.  Oh yes, as the riders went higher we came across more and more cows! Well that makes sense really as it’s mid-summer and they go higher as the snow melts.  Der.

138.9 km Vache on the crest.

135km with sheep in the background – just cause we can

135km closeup girls!

I really wish SBS had been broadcasting as this lovely Vache was video worthy (or at least a better pic) – appearing from nowhere to walk along next to the peloton for a bit, completely unperturbed by the action.

134.7 km

130.5 km snacking away

130.5km Lovely isn’t she?

79.3 Cows on the right, sheep to the left!

A good night’s spotting all round really.


  • “I’ve Got My Mojo Working” – Manfred Man. Tomas Veau-ckler working his mojo, his tongue, his facial expressions, anything to get him over that line.
  • “The Ending is Just The Beginning” – The Living End.
  • “Foreign Land” – Eskimo Joe.
  • “Every LIttle Bit Hurts” – The Spencer Davis Group – Cadel, showing the strain, trying his hardest, giving it his all.
  • “Far From Over” – Frank Stallone.

Field Art: Ever-loveable smiling sheep!


= = = = = = = = =

We’re lucky to have LVDT supporter (and jersey sponsor) Will, from Two Wheel Tours as a cowrespondent again this year and he snapped this gorgeous cow on the slopes of Tourmelet.

Check out Will’s albums over on his Facebook page.

Stage 16: Pau > Bagnères-de-Luchon

We come back from the rest day having woken to the now-traditional news of a positive test, this time involving Fränk Schleck. Seems a stretch to think that, given his performance this year, he has been enhanced in any way but I guess all that will unfold over the coming days and weeks. As it stands at the time of writing, 155 riders will start in Pau today. The testing bombshell aside, this is the stage we’ve been waiting for! The 197km route with its four climbs – two HCs and two Cat 1s – will provide opportunities for Evans, Nibali and perhaps even Froome to establish a claim to the yellow jersey. Of course Wiggins will be defending his position, but his result today will possibly be buffered by the calculation that he can make up small losses in the final time trial. For the other GC contenders, today and tomorrow will be key.

The first climb to challenge the riders is the 16.4km Col d’Aubisque, which comes on the heels of the early intermediate sprint point at 26km. The climb starts at around 37km and once the riders reach the summit, there’s a descent – with a bump in the form of the Col du Soulor – to the feed station at Adast. The 19km climb to the summit of the Col du Tourmelet starts just after Luz St Sauveur at 101.5km, although it looks pretty much all uphill from Adast. After descending Tourmelet, the Col d’Aspin climb starts immediately; rinse and repeat for the final climb of the day, the Col de Peyresourde.

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Stage sixteen: round-up

We had anticipated that this stage might be devoid of cattle and we were not wrong.  Fortunately les agriculteurs ensured that Team Vaches’ bovine vigilance wasn’t in vain with their field art.

Thanks, @LacusCurtius, for the #lvdt tweet - you made it easy for me to find this in the recording!

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Stage 16: Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux > Gap

After a much-needed day of rest, the Tour restarts in the Drôme and finishes in the Hautes-Alpes.  The route profile shows a consistent uphill gradient, but only one categorised climb: a Cat 2 at 151km creating an 11km descent into the finish at Gap.  Who will make a break this stage?  Will the God of Thunder have a crack?  Should we keep an eye on Simmental Gerrans? And what can we expect from this part of the world?  Well, there is an AOC cheese – picodon – from the Drôme department, however it’s from the wrong four-legged mammal, the goat.  Other specialties from the area include an AOC olive oil, truffles, herbs and white garlic.  Do you see anything missing here?  I was very excited when I came across “coeur de boeuf“… only to discover that it is a tomato.  Surely there must be some produit de la vache?  Monsieur Google teased me with a result for “cheese, hautes-alpes” that really got my attention: an article in Time Magazine called Restaurants for Cheese Lovers. Sudi Pigott refers to “Le Testard from the Hautes-Alpes”.  Could it be? Well, the only other reference to Le Testard I could find in the entire interweb was on a blog that reproduced the Time piece.  Please let me know if you are familiar with this cheese.

Provence Web mentions cattle grazing in the Hautes-Alpes in the Drac Noir valley, which is north of Gap, but maybe the helicopters will take pity on us and sweep over the area during the presentations.  Otherwise, this may be as close as we’ll get to une vache tonight.

Cows in Gap

Photo: Will Levy

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