Saturday, July 3, 2010

And So It Begins TdF 2010

As I've mentioned more than a few times on twitter, I've been planning to drink the wines of the Tour de France. Periodically I would scan my wine racks and vaguely give some thought to the regions I needed to fill in. But somehow, in a fit of stress and distraction, I put off detailed stage planning until the last minute. Luckily, Jason at Solano Cellars was more than happy to grab a few bottles for me, despite the lure of Uruguay-Ghana on the computer. We did however pause to watch the penalty kicks. How could we not?

This weekend presented a bit of a challenge. This morning's prologue was in Rotterdam. I'm almost certain there must be a wine made somewhere in that area, though David McDuff at suggests otherwise But, see above for poor planning on my part. I have acquired Belgian beer for Sunday and Monday's trip through Belgium (thanks Jon Bonné), but what to do for Rotterdam?

After consulting with my frequent Tour de France viewing partner, L, otherwise known as one of the few people willing to be in the room with me when I babble about echelons and domestiques, I decided on champagne. The prologue after all is a day to celebrate. As to which champagne, after looking through my stock the answer was easy, something pink. In this case: Fleury Brut Rosé Champagne, suggested several months back by Alice Feiring as a possible New Year's drink. I'm looking forward to popping the cork upon L's arrival.

Now a few words on the race itself. I am not one of those casual cycling fans who follows only the tour. I am instead one of those get up really early in the morning many weekends in the Spring to watch streaming video, usually in a language I do not speak, of what are called the classics. I have favorite races, favorite cyclists, and favorite teams. I have been known to cheer or boo out loud. I'm also not, to the surprise of many casual fans a particular Lance fan. I'll root for him in certain situations, but I became a fan of the sport before I had ever heard his name.

I was coincidentally in Paris for the last day of the Tour years ago, pre-Lance's victories. I knew nothing more of the sport besides what I had seen on Wide World of Sports (yes, the agony of defeat show). But, watching from the windows of the Louvre, I became intrigued. And then Lance started winning and winning and winning some more and the sport, or at least the Tour, became accessible in the US. The internet helped as well, as it allowed me to follow the sport in a way that would be impossible in the mainstream press.

As for my loyalties, well, as I mentioned before, I will root for Lance under certain circumstances, but I have always been a George Hincapie girl. Not that I expect him to win of course. These days, I also have a soft spot for:
Thor Hushovd because he smiled so nicely at the Tour of California
Fabian Cancellara and Mark Cavendish because they are both brilliant at what they do best
I admit that this most recent Giro had me cheering for Ivan Basso (I can't believe that one myself) and Cadel Evans because, well, he is now George's team leader.

L is a Saxo Bank fan so I end up following their whole team quite a bit as well, but have only embraced Fabian and of course, Jens!

Who will win this year? The smart money is on Alberto Contador. But we shall see on the 25th.

Prologue wine: Fleury Brut Rosé Champagne
Prologue winner: (as expected) Fabian Cancellara

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