Thursday, July 16, 2015

Stage 11 Pau / Cauterets - Vallée de Saint-Savin - Vaches Slalom Tests Tour on the Tourmalet

Stage 11 and the Tour spent a second day in the Pyrenees from Pau to Cauterets - Vallée de Saint-Savin.

Meanwhile Gabs had been nicking peaches from trees hanging over fences in the pretty Pyrenean towns on the way to Cauterets and  turned them into a lovely upside-down peach tart. I don’t quite get when a cake or desert is described as ‘upside-down’, which in my case means having dropped it on the floor. The recipe calls for 50g of butter which brings the buerremetric counter to 180g.

The peloton set off to another hot day in the Pyrenees and Romain Bardet was clearly in trouble struggling with heat stress and rode with an icepack on the back of his neck to try and cool down. Things weren’t helped by the breakies who made their escape from the get go forcing the peloton to chase all day.

The Pyrenean vultures were soaring above the valleys on the thermals and Paul spotted one that he thought was checking out how the Skybots were going. No signs of weakness there and really Paul, I think that vulture was more interested in road kill than the cycling to be honest.

Back on the ground and the ‘Birdman of Alpe d’Huez’ was perched on a camping car flapping his white wings. He seems to have grown more feathers and is looking more vulture like than the last time we saw him.

Nice feathers!

On the climb to the summit of the giant Col de  Tourmalet the peloton made its way through the ski lodges of La Mongie and a little further up the road passed an all-you-can-eat megaliner of a 'chalet' that looked like Falls Creek on steroids. I wouldn’t want to be caught there indoors in winter during a major gastro outbreak.

Rafal Majka soloed up the Tourmalet and from there no one could catch him. After Majka summited Warren Barguil was in the chase trying to bridge the gap when some vaches of the Pyrenees wandered off the slopes and onto the road. He must have pushing 100km/h but successfully negotiated the impromptu ‘vaches slalom.’

Normally you’d expect to find a 50kg Pyrenean mountain dog in the middle of the road up here and theories abounded as to why the cows staged the Peter Hore like pitch invasion. Was it revenge after an elephant and a stuffed bear upstaged them at last year’s Tour? Perhaps they were jealous the vultures were getting all the attention.

Paul thought the cow Barguil narrowly avoided was “almost a hamburger”. I can tell you if he had hit the cow Barguil would have most certainly been cactus.

There wasn’t much anyone could do to stop the herd from blocking the road but the ‘steaks’ are high at that the Tour and maybe officials ought to have a look at ‘beefing up’ security.

Vaches or no vaches these roads are tricky on the descent and I could have sworn I heard a  moto cameraman say “holy fuck” on one of the tighter corners.

As the race made the final climb of the day up the crazy zig-zag Magic Majka was well out in front and needed no assistance from a ‘sticky moto aerial.’ Nibs found himself dangling out the back, again, and a moto aerial would have sure come in handy.

Majka crossed the line and Dean, sorry, Dan Martin put in a sterling effort to finish a minute later in second.

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