Stage 17: Bern > Finhaut-Emosson

We are in Switzerland all day – 184.5km, four climbs and a summit finish. You’d hope the riders spent part of yesterday eating for tomorrow, which is – of course – today.

According to the Australian home of Raclette cheese:

Apart from the magnificent Swiss Alps themselves, Switzerland’s greatest natural resource is the cow.

and Switzerland certainly brought us a bovine bonanza before the rest day. I am hoping we will have more delights today. The buffalo were a bit of an unexpected surprise on Monday; today we are travelling through the home of the Simmental so we should be assured of a sighting.


Perhaps we will also spy some Braunvieh, complete with cowbells (if the roadside randoms have left any for the cows).


Image: Ikiwaner


Clearly this is a stage for chocolate and/or cheese. There are a lot of alpine cheeses to choose from, but if you can get your hands on one of these, tonight would be the perfect night for bunging it in the oven:

800px-Vacherin_Mont_d'OrImage: Wikimedia Commons

when baked, it’s like a brain wreck of everything going on – fat, funk, fresh cream, wood, garlic, rank, and a peculiar buttery sharpness scrambling all of your senses together in each single mouthful. And if that description didn’t scare you away, then you’ll be rewarded with a life-altering eating experience.

David Lebovitz

Now, if that doesn’t make you want to rush out in search of this cheese, I don’t know what will.

Stage 8: Belfort > Porrentruy

We are really in the mountains now. Given the length of the stages we’ve seen so far, you might look at this 157.5km stage and think “well, at least I’ll get some more sleep before the week starts”. Not so fast. There are seven climbs packed into today’s route. The first is a Cat 4 at 20km, and they get progressively steeper (a 3, three 2s and then a 1) as the day progresses. We’ll see some pretty unlikely “sprinters” collecting points today, with the intermediate sprint coming after the day’s fifth climb.

The finish today is in Switzerland, so we should expect a lot of auditory false alarms as fans ring their cowbells. Hopefully it will give our own Cowbell Evans a boost. If we do see any cows, they might be the local Braunvieh (Brown Swiss) or Simmental.

Please don’t draw any SherLiggetism conclusions from the posture of these cows.

Image: Wikimedia (Creative Commons)

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