Friday, June 15, 2012

TdF Stage 20: Cav and Wiggins!

Always magnificent "A little road stage, the shortest of the Tour (120 km). But it will no doubt be an apotheosis, with the traditional finish on the Champs-Élysées. Always the same, always magnificent since 1975. We already know more or less what will happen: a festive start in Rambouillet, two short hours before things really get going, and then a sudden, spectacular acceleration to mark the peloton’s arrival in the Parisian circuit. All of this before 1.5 billion TV viewers, nothing to sneeze at! For the rest, I do not think any brave riders will be able to slip under the radar of the sprinters' teams. On paper, Mark Cavendish can dream of a fourth straight win."

"This was a hard Tour. They are always hard – they never seem to get any easier, in fact they get harder. It is impossible to describe how tough the Tour de France is."--George Hincapie in Velonation
Today George Hincapie finishes his 16th Tour de France. He is most widely known as a key domestique of Lance Armstrong, having been the only rider to assist Armstrong in all seven of his tour victories. He also rode for Alberto Contador in 2007 and for Cadel Evans in 2011, making him a member of 9 Tour winning teams. There is a lovely piece here, from longtime cycling writer Samuel Abt. I'm hoping, as I'm sure many others are, that he gets the ceremonial role of leading the peloton onto the Champs-Élysées.(Spoiler: he did.)
Team Sky has gone yellow on twitter:
TeamSky 5:28am via Web
It's all smiles in the peloton. Just reaching the finish in Paris is a beautiful moment regardless of your position #TDF12

There will, by the way, actually be a race today, but only at the very end of the stage. Almost all of the day will be ceremonial until the final sprint, probably the most prestigious in cycling. The favorite is Mark Cavendish and I am hoping that he'll win.
From twitter:
MarkCavendish 2:32am via Twitter for BlackBerry®
The most famous bike race finish in the world. The most beautiful boulevard in the world. Avenue des Champs-Elysees..

And, well, some 'fashion' humor:
Good to see the people who made Tommy V's polka dot shorts had a sense of humour

The Tour reaches Paris and the riders can see the Eiffel Tower. Last stage is a victory parade with a high speed race at the end, not easy.
UCI_Overlord 7:26am via Web
Legitimately emotional over the retirement of @georgehincapie. Nice gesture to see him lead the peloton onto the Champs-Elysees. Cheers!

Off they go around Paris. I've said this before, but my love of the sport comes from coincidentally being in Paris for the final stage years ago. It was magical and the final stage each year takes me back to that moment. After the Hincapie tribute (joined by Chris Horner for some unknown reason), the attack being. And Jens!

 Final lap:
Does the bell ringing guy train in the off season with the Shake Weight? #TdF12

And wow was that impressive:
Bradley Wiggins claims an incredible and historic overall victory at the Tour de France after leading out Mark Cavendish to victory!

Heckuva dig by Wiggins. Watching the YJ do that is one of the most unusual things I've seen on the Champs-Élysées.

Stage: Mark Cavendish
Final GC and the first ever British winner of the Tour:
1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 84:26:31
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:03:21
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:06:19
4 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team 0:10:15
5 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:11:04
6 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan 0:15:43
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:15:51
8 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:16:31
9 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team 0:16:38
10 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:17:17

K is excited for the final Tour stage.
Wine: Ridgeview Bloomsbury 2009 (I do so wish I had their Cavendish)  From Franklywines

"The sparkling wines from Ridgeview Estate [...] are superb and will forever put to rest the notion that England is not capable of making good wine." - Eric Asimov, New York Times"
From the producer:
Ridgeview was founded in 1994 by Mike and Chris Roberts and is dedicated to creating world class sparkling wines in the South Downs of England. Our vineyards specialise in growing classic grape varieties to make the highest quality bottle fermented sparkling wines. The world class status of our wines is reflected by the number of national & international medals and trophies we have received since the release of our first wines from the 1996 vintage.
Bloomsbury: The Blend: A Chardonnay dominant blend which is supported by the fullness of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

Tasting Note: A light gold colour with a fine persistent mousse. Citrus fruit aromas and a hint of melon and honey. Chardonnay dominance brings finesse, along with crisp fruit freshness and toasty notes. The two Pinot’s add depth and character. A beautifully balanced finish. Will age gracefully over time as the Chardonnay matures.

Ageing: Drink now or age for two to three years.

Serving Suggestions: An excellent aperitif as well as a great accompaniment to shell fish. The crispness makes it ideal with oily fish such as salmon and smoked trout. It would be difficult to beat a glass of Bloomsbury alongside a refreshing sorbet.

I say: Yes, English sparkling wine. Check out this piece from Eric Asimov in the New York Times.  Light and golden. Soft with bread, nuts and yeast that become more pronounced as it warms up a bit. Is it as good as either the Peters or the Gimonnet from earlier in the Tour? No. But it is quite good? Yes. 

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