Day seven and the 234.5km transitional stage from Epernay to Nancy (the second longest of the Tour) wraps up nearly a week of racing before the Tour heads off into the Vosges Mountains.
Gabriel Gate thought the riders deserved a mid-afternoon treat. He thought a rich cake would help them with their energy levels too and baked Nancy’s Chocolate Cake. Don’t bother Gab’s Tante Nancy for the recipe. She doesn’t have it and might curse in French and beat you with her ear trumpet. The cake is a speciality of the town of Nancy, hence the name ‘Nancy’s Chocolate Cake’. And besides, Tante Nancy is not a real person. Drum roll, the recipe has 125g of butter giving the Beurremetric Counter a boost to 500g.
If you squint and try not to think you’re in France, this stage has been likened to a shorter version of the one-day classic Milano–San Remo. The terrain is mostly flat with two short steep climbs with a mad descent in the 5.5km to the line.
These transitional stages are usually a bit ho-hum leading to Troll DJ to bring out the transition stage standard ‘Movin’ Right Along’ by the Muppets. Speaking of Muppets, the Ps managed to behave themselves after former apprentice Matt Keenan gave them a stern talking to. Paul might have mentioned fishing once but I think he got away with it.
Movin' right along
Just as Tour fans were yawning and looking at their watches the first sunflowers popped into view. That’s one of the highlights to see the peloton riding past cheery yellow fields of tournesol. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better it does with some curious cows that galloped up to the roadside. Les Vaches du Tour fans erupted in joy. Yours truly ran outside into the cold night, air humped and shouted, “TAKE THAT YORKSHIRE AND YOUR STOOPID YELLOW SHEEP!”...Ahem.
There were a few more inexplicable crashes out on the parcours. The roads were straight and dry and not a cobble in site. There were no ‘strange noises’ detected either. The only explanation I can come up with is a curse. Not a curse from Tante Nancy kind of curse but one of supernatural origins. If this continues they’re have to re-name the event ‘Le Tour de Chute’.
The cycling action got going with Thomas Voeckler (Oooooropcar) coming out pumping and blowing but was quickly reeled in. Peter Sagan and his Cannonball team worked hard all day setting the pace. Sagz could taste victory and a pilsner waiting at the end. In the sprint to the line Andrew Talansky (Sharmin-Garp) went down. Sagz thought he had it in the bag but the photo revealed he’d been pipped at the line by Mega Farmer-Quick Stop’s Matteo Trentin.
The race finished in time for beer o’clock and the riders relaxed over some Friday arvo frothies. Not the pretend French stuff but the real deal smuggled in from over the German border.