Stage 3 and the Tour headed south from Granville in Normandy on a 223 km ride to Angers in the Loire Valley.
Over in the Tour kitchen Gabs prepared a delightful strawberry tart with pistachio nuts. There’s no butter in the actual recipe, however it calls for sweet pastry. There are lots of recipes out there for a basic sweet pastry dough. Don’t skimp on the butter and NEVER reach for the margarine!
Gabs still had some delicious Normandy butter in the pantry and for his sweet pastry dough went for a full block which takes the buerremetric counter to 520g, an impressive amount at this early stage of the Tour.
Oh, and did I mention there’s a good slug of Cointreau in the recipe?
Out on the parcours riders took it slow like it was an unofficial rest day, except for a plucky Armindo Fonseca who rode off the front like a man possessed from the drop of the flag.
Back in the caravan of commentary Mattie and Robbie dissected Richie Porte’s disastrous stage 2 puncture. Bad luck or bad management? Robbie agreed it was a bit of both. With no teamie at hand he was left without a bike to swap, which, ideally, is what you want.
In an ideal world Richie Porte would have had a clone beside him to hand over his bike when he punctured. This normally wouldn’t be a problem for the Yates twins, except Adam’s brother Simon is sitting out a suspension.
Robbie gave some insights into the raison d'être of the dedicated feed zone. He explained it was easier on the domestiques who would otherwise be collecting ‘suitcases’ of feedbags from team cars out on the road.
Andre Greipel loads up at the feed zone.
Out on the road the pace of the peloton was slow, so slow in fact they were in danger of being passed by a bunch of grade F club riders, including the guy who popped off the back. It was getting a bit ho-hum.
Robbie was so bored he had to reprise the story of the Tinkie team mate eating Alberto Contador's in-sole. Turns out it wasn’t the Devil after all, just a hard working domestique ‘taking one for the team leader’.
Fortunately there was plenty of roadside and field art to take the edge off the boredom. Apart from a bicycle constructed from giant pink marshmallows, there was a bovine painted up as the French flag, which is known as a TriCOWlore.
Robbie was asked his favourite ‘race’ of cow, which he replied “the 250 metres”. It’s not race but breed of cow and as it turns out Robbie is partial to a fine looking Limousin - and not one on four wheels.
Robbie gathered round the couch peloton for a story about the time he won a Limousin cow and then sold it to none other than five times Tour winner Bernard Hinault!
A bit of rumour mill news. John Degenkolb is set to go to Trek-Segafredo. Bling is set to go to Giant-Alpecin, which is a natural move to a team sponsored by a shampoo company.
It’s also rumoured wherever Peter Sagan goes after he’s finished with the Tinkies, he’s pretty much guaranteed a lifetime’s supply of Specialized bikes. Being world champ, Specialized is hoping Sagan will do for the brand what Michael Jordan did for a certain brand of sneakers, except the kids won’t be wearing little bicycles on their feet of course.
Back to the race and ‘French housewives’ choice’ Thomas Voeckler decided to come on out of the peloton for a bit of Tommie’s TeeVee Time to show off his mad gurning skillz.
We understand Voeckler is also very vocal in the peloton and a cheeky Troll DJ blew the dust of The Who album Tommy to give ‘Tommy, Can You Hear Me?’ a spin.
Before Mattie and Robbie were caught by Phil and Paul at 45 km to go, Robbie gave a little lesson in some of the race rules. One of them, in a nod to the environment, is about littering. If you drop an empty gel or snack bar wrapper the penalty is half an hour of picking up papers under the supervision of the yard duty teacher.
Phil and Paul counted down the remaining miles of the stage as the peloton finally woke up and realised they’d better get organised for the sprint.
Boundary rider Jens Voigt joined in for a chat as the pace picked up as the peloton snaked its way around the traffic furniture and cray roundabouts.
Fonseca and Voeckler hung on as long as they could in the slim hope they would make it to the line but were inevitably swallowed up by the pack at around 8 km to go.
In the end it was Mark Cavendish by a nose over ‘The Gorilla’ Andre Greipel. The Manx Missile made it Tour stage win number 28, equalling Bernard Hinault’s number of victories. Who said Cav’s best days as a sprinter were behind him?
Oh, and can Hinault interest Cav in a Limousin cow?