Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tour de France Stage 20 The Time Trial

After almost three weeks on the roads of France, it all came down to the time trial. A fitting end for a tour that has been unpredictable from the start. For those not familar with cycling's unofficial rules, the final stage of the Tour de France is a mainly ceremonial ride through Paris, with only the final sprint truly contested. So as the time trial started this morning, it was up Cadel Evans to make 57 seconds on Andy Schleck to win yellow. Most, myself included, expected that he would. In my case, I will even admit to yelling encouragements at the tv as he rode along.

Evans had a virtually perfect ride. Shortly after the first time check, he already held the virtual race lead and the lead only grew from there. Sunday, he will become the first Australian ever to win the Tour de France. Andy Schleck has now finished second in the Tour de France three times (well, depending upon the results of the Contador inquiry. 

In the battle for the stage victory, well, Fabian Cancellara did not win. Rather, Tony Martin did. Evans finished second, just 7 seconds behind. Alberto Contador in a last-ditch effort to finish on the podium  or perhaps simply to win the stage, finished third.

And a story from twitter: (Millarmind is the twitter handle of cyclist David Millar)
If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.
In team car being driven to hotel. Chatting to VdV & spot cyclist on autoroute ahead, dressed in full Europcar kit. Looks oddly familiar.
Chat stops, tell car to slow. As we pass have time to look into eyes of a tired and broken Voeckler. Tragic doesn't come close to describe.
1 Tony Martin (Ger) HTC-Highroad 0:55:33
2 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:07
3 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:01:06
4 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:01:29
5 Richie Porte (Aus) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:01:30
6 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:33
7 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:01:37
8 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Leopard Trek 0:01:42
9 Peter Velits (Svk) HTC-Highroad 0:02:03
10 Rein Taaramae (Est) Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne

Current GC:
1 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 83:45:20
2 Andy Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 0:01:34
3 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Leopard Trek 0:02:30
4 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar 0:03:20
5 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Saxo Bank Sungard 0:03:57
6 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:04:55
7 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre - ISD 0:06:05
8 Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:07:23
9 Thomas Danielson (USA) Team Garmin-Cervelo 0:08:15
10 Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:10:11

Wine: I had plans for something French, I really did. But, while champagne is not negotiable for tomorrow,  today I could open something Australian : Torbreck Barossa 06 The Struie

From their website: The Eden Valley lies within the Barossa Range and consists of river valleys and undulating hills covered with large gums, rocky outcrops and Aboriginal sites. It is a high-altitude area of between 400 and 500 metres, compared with the Barossa Valley's elevation of 200 to 300 metres. This higher altitude, with its (one to two weeks) later ripening pattern, results in more distinctive varietal flavour characteristics, lower pH and higher acidities. Whilst the Eden Valley region is most associated with the white wine variety, Riesling, it produces elegant, tautly structured Shiraz which is highly prized by winemakers.
This Torbreck Shiraz cuvée from the cooler climate, higher altitude vineyards of Eden Valley is skillfully blended with fruit from Barossa Valley which traditionally provides greater richness and intensity. A blend of 44 year old Eden Valley Shiraz vines and 80 year old Barossa Shiraz, The Struie is aged for 18 months in a combination of old and new French oak barriques prior to bottling.

I say: Not a bad trade I made, as this is lovely. Dark berries, vanilla and cocoa. A long finish with integrated tannins. I probably could have aged this for a while to come, but it is breathing now and tonight, I'll celebrate Cadel's win with this and a steak from Prather Ranch.

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