The fight for cheese and glory

Yesterday’s stage 5 took us on a scenic loop from Exmouth, across Dartmoor, then around its top edge and back down to Exeter. Rather exciting for this humble blogger was the fact that the peloton whizzed through my current home town, so I had a front row seat to watch as the riders headed on up to Okehampton.

Proving once and for all that I'll never be a sports photographer
Proving once and for all that I’ll never be a sports photographer

Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 13.37.37   A few hours later in Exeter the Austrian Matthias Brandle from IAM Cycling took the victory for stage five in front of an excited crowd in the city centre. He was part of the day’s four man breakaway, which managed to stay ahead despite the determined pace of the peleton. Michal Kwiatkowski held on to his yellow jersey for the second day, and there was little change in the classifications below him. Wiggins remains sixth after rolling in at 36th. Not the most exciting days to watch the boys in the saddle, but, I learnt something yesterday that changed my whole perspective on the Tour of Britain. I may be the only one who wasn’t aware of this already, but that doesn’t make it any less special: the winner of the Tour of Britain Combativity Award receives a wheel of cheese for their efforts. This. Is. Brilliant. That piece of information has now blown my interest in the yellow jersey right out of the water. It seems the geniuses at Rouler magazine are to thank for this. Yesterday’s winner Brandle received not just some champagne for winning the stage, but a block of St James sheep’s milk cheese. He was, no doubt, delighted. That’s some primo cheese delight for him to enjoy on the team bus in the evening. Cheese is after all the best reward for anything, and I mean anything. Andreas Stauff knows what I’m talking about:

Can this please become a global fixture for races? I want to see the Yellow Jersey at the Tour de France triumphantly lob a block of Camembert into the adoring crowd. Or to watch the winner of a stage at La Vuelta hand out rough shavings of Manchego to his team mates back on the bus.

Block of Manchego + knife = perfect blogging snack
Block of Manchego + knife = my perfect blogging snack

Rouler, quite rightly, appear to be choosing local cheeses for every stage. I wonder what the winner of the stage 8 time trial in London will get? Some funky concoction with chocolate and a hint of chilli from a Dalston market stall? A delicate, expensive affair from Neal’s Yard? I am now waiting with baited breath, and a block of Double Gloucester. I firmly believe the men who win this award deserve cheese. Because once you’ve battled with the elements, the terrain, your own psyche, and the riders on their back: yours is the earth and everything that’s in it. And – which is more – you’ll have a wheel of Wensleydale, my son.

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