19 July 2007

Stage Ten: Tallard > Marseille


Many riders took the opportunity to sit back and 'relax' (as much as anyone can call nearly 230km of undulating terrain relaxing) during today's stage which took the Tour through the spectacular scenery of Provence. An early breakaway group of 11 posed no threat to the yellow jersey contenders, so the peloton just let the 11 go for it. I tend to think this makes for somewhat boring cycling, what do you think?

In the end, the eleven was pared down to five and it became clear it would all come down to a sprint finish by those five in the last kilometer. Jens Voigt was perhaps the one rider in the leaders' group who had the most experience and sprinting power, but the other four guys decided to let him take the lead. This put him at somewhat of a disadvantage, as the other riders were enjoying his slipstream and carefully choosing their moment to attack. Finally Frenchman Cedric Vasseur of Team Quickstep saw an opening on the right hand side and went for it. He gained just enough distance on the pack from his surprise attack that he made it over the line first.

The standings remain unchanged at the end of Stage Ten:
Yellow: Michael Rasmussen
Green: Tom Boonen
Polkadot: Michael Rasmussen
White: Alberto Contador

It's one of the great mysteries of road racing I suppose, how for 200kms you rely on the ten other guys in your breakaway, taking turns in the lead to conserve energy, trying to keep your lead on the peloton...then in the blink of an eye, all the other guys are your competitors and it's all about outwitting them and every man for himself. A typical day at the office for a Tour de France rider one might say.

Speaking of the office, I have read that poor Stuart O'Grady is still in hospital with not one but TWO broken collarbones, taking regular doses of morphine to quell the pain, with his pregnant wife at his side. Guess what, she's only three weeks away from her due date. Hopefully Stuey has gotten a doctor's certificate for his sick days off from work.

Just a few updates from the knitting peloton today...

Barbara has finished YET another UFO in her mountain challenge, a sweater which she started no less than four years ago. No photos yet but I am really looking forward to seeing it, based on some of the 'colourful' descriptions offered up by her family! She is now moving onto not one but TWO Dr Who scarves (worked simultaneously) and has had to find a larger project-in-progress bag for them!

The ADD Knitter is proud to announce she's finished a pair of socks...just not her TDF socks. A little lesson in project monogamy has been learned and hopefully she'll focus on the TDF socks next!

Sarah is not just going for speed with her Holiday Romance sweater, she's aiming for quality too. The attention to detail will, I'm sure result in a magnificent sweater. I couldn't choose between the two photos she's offered us today - one showing her lovely directionally-decreased shaping, or this one - which was chosen in the end because it has her bicycle in the background:
Cindy has cast off her stellar Shoalwater Shawl and says now she can really get down to work on her TDF project, Fawne. Jane's second entrelac sock is going on holidays with her to Oslo shortly (be sure to pick up some Thor Hushovd paraphernalia while you're there)! 5elementknitr has posted about a tricky knitting conundrum with her Baudelaires - please everyone go offer your 2 cents worth. (It's a hard question, I have no idea of the answer so hopefully all you smarties will be able to contribute!) There are two finished objects from Polkadot jersey contenders to mention - Lauren's finished mittens (OK technically not ready to wear (who needs mittens in the northern hemisphere in July anyway) but just needing the ends woven in and the ribbed cuffs knitted on.):
And Moze's THIRD FINISHED OBJECT for the Tour, a toddler's stained glass sweater for the 'gift stash' (how organised!)
Tragedy has struck two knitters during this stage. Ann noticed a mistake in her Mermaid and had to rip back to about 3" from the cast on. That is A LOT of ripping, sadly. And she had a bike tire puncture (or maybe more like shredding) the same day. Not a good day for our Ann. Also, Kathy has had to rip her entire red and white striped jumper back to the cast-on because of gauge issues... the good news is she's pretty much recovered her position in the race from before the ripping back. Good on you K!

In the sprinters group we have some great progress. Kate has finished the collar of her Jean-Pierre vest and I think we'll see a finished object soon (that is, if she can keep herself from straying to other yarns that are calling out to her from the stash!) And The Knitty Professor has finished up a second market bag (to think she thought it'd be tough to make 3 in 3 weeks! She's flying through them!):
And Zarah is making stupendous progress on her Hempathy sweater. Go Zarah!

We haven't had any food discussed here for a day or two and you must all be getting hungry, so I thought I'd share this super-simple yet tasty dessert with you - it was featured during Stage 5 of the 2005 Tour de France during Gabriel Gate's Taste le Tour segment.


To make almond cream:
  • 125g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g almond meal
  • 30ml rum (I have made this without the rum and it's fine)
  • 25g plain flour
  • 1 egg yolk mixed with 2Tbsp water
  • 2 sheets puff pastry, about 25cm x 25cm (the frozen stuff is fine. Follow packet instructions for thawing)
Make the almond cream as follows: Cream together the butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Add almond meal and mix well. Add rum and flour and mix well.

From each sheet of puff pastry, cut out a circle about 25cm in diameter. (Use a plate as a template and a sharp knife to cut around it.)

Place one pastry disc on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Mark a smaller circle on it, about 16cm diameter. Brush the outer edge with the egg yolk/water mixture. Spread the almond cream in the centre. Cover with the second pastry disc and press the edges down so it sticks to the first disc. Brush the top with egg wash and use a sharp knife to draw curved lines on the top of the cake 'to form an attractive pattern' (so says Gabriel).

Bake in an oven preheated to 220C for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 200C and bake a further 20-25 minutes until cake is browned underneath.

Et voila! Enjoy warm, perhaps with some fresh whipped cream and fruit on the side! It is also nice at room temperature and I was amazed to discover that even week-old leftovers still tasted really good!


The_Add_Knitter said...

The town that lends its name to this cake--Pithiviers--is one of my favorite places in France, thanks for this recipe!!

Elaine said...

Unfortunately I had no connectivity while I was in Europe so I haven't had a chance to post.

But the big news is that I got to watch the time trials in London. I arrived all jetlagged but dragged myself over and it was worth it. Very cool - big party atmosphere etc. It was hard to get near the front, but patience won out and so I watched some of the later ones up front.

Sunday morning, they went by about a quarter of a block from my hotel. We went out shortly before it began, managed to squeeze in next to a nice guy in the front row, and saw the whole pack whiz (I mean really whiz) by in about 3 seconds. And then it was over.

As for my projects, I finished the pair of socks that were my airplane project. More about the socks on my blog.

Sarah / Blue Garter said...

Poor Stuart - and poor Stuart's wife! I think the Grand Tour widows have it mighty hard, with the hubbies being gone for months at a time for training and the race circuit while they raise the kids, often toting them around to set up house in foreign lands to be closer to Dad's team.

I was feeling sorry for poor Jens - he did most of the work to keep the breakaway successful, and then they ganged up on him in the end. But it's as you say - just another day at the office for those guys. And chapeau Cedric for the sneaky inside move. The French deserved a win anyway (especially in light of today's blow to poor Christophe Moreau!).

Auntly H said...

I'm feeling like I lost my wheels, waiting for Clue 4. I've started a couple of sewing projects (which will stall again tomorrow morning when I can get back to knitting the MS3).
Maybe I should bake instead....