Tour of Britain: stage one

As the 2012 Vuelta finishes, the Tour of Britain begins.  Fourteen teams of six (and two teams of five) will compete over eight stages. Some are favouring Sky to take the win, although it seems they are viewing it as more of a “victory lap” for Wiggins and, and World Championship prep for Cav, than an attempt to gain a victory. Given recent precedent (Vino’s Olympics win, the failed Contador-Froome face-off) perhaps this party will be spoiled for the local heroes, too.

Whilst the Vuelta has given us exciting racing, it wasn’t so great for cows. This excellent cheese map of Britain is a fairly good indicator that we should have some cattle sightings over the course of the race.

Stage one, a relatively flat 203 kms from Ipswich to Norwich, will take us through Suffolk and into Norfolk. Both counties had local breeds – the Suffolk Dun and the Norfolk Red, respectively – however neither breed has survived into the 21st century. They continue in the form of the dual-purpose Red Poll, which was developed in the early 19th century from the two breeds. The Red Poll was hugely popular in Britain in the mid 20th century, but numbers dwindled until it was officially classified a “rare” breed. In the 1980s the breed society was reinvigorated and numbers are gradually rising again in the UK. It has been more of a continued success story elsewhere in the world.

Red Poll cow, Temple Newsam - - 179145

Image: RichTea [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The cheese map tells us that there are a couple of cheeses made in Suffolk – Suffolk Gold and Shipcord – although there is no PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) or PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) style originating here. Suffolk Farmhouse Cheeses, where the Suffolk Gold is made, uses milk from their Guernsey herd, but we won’t hold that against them as the Guernsey is a beautiful beast. The Suffolk Gold is described as

A creamy semi-hard farmhouse cheese, delicious flavour with a rich golden colour. Perfect with oatcakes or an apple.

The Shipcord, a cheddar-style cheese made from unpasteurised raw milk, comes from Rodwell Farm Dairy in Ipswich. I’m sure you’ll be able to find something along these lines to make up your Tour de Snack plate for this stage.

The Tour of Britain is being shown on Eurosport – today’s stage starts at around 10.30pm AEST – and will also be streamed on Cycling Central once the Vuelta is over.