Sunday, July 1, 2012

TdF Stage 1: Rodenbach Grand Cru

Setting the tone: "This stage is no leg breaker, but it still is bumpy enough to dampen the hopes of pure sprinters. In other words, I do not think Cavendish will be among those fighting for the win. I hope I am wrong, but I think he will be dropped before reaching Seraing. The course is less demanding than in 1995, when Bruyneel and Indurain blew the race apart on the road to Liège, but it comes very close to the Ardennes and, at 198 km, the stage distance is nothing to sneeze at.  In short, we wanted to preserve the peloton's energy while setting the tone for the rest of the race. We will see..."

Today brings the first road stage of the tour--198 kilometers with a slight uphill finish that may spoil things for the sprinters.  Last year this would have been a course perfect for Philippe Gilbert, but his season has been disappointing so far. Perhaps instead Peter Sagan who dominated the Tour of California? Or will the sprinters hang on for a bunch sprint? Radio Shack has said they will defend Fabian Cancellara's yellow jersey, so we shall see.

Off they went with a breakaway forming almost instantly. Almost as quickly, the internet started complaining about Sky's yellow helmets. It turns out that in an attempt to highlight the current leading team, the tour has ruled that they will wear yellow helmets, a look that flatters very few, though I did enjoy the Lemonheads tweets from Nyvelocity. An explanation here from inrg.

Meanwhile on the road, there was an intermediate sprint, contest by most of the green jersey contenders, including Mark Cavendish. As much as I'd enjoy seeing him attempt to repeat in green, pre-Tour all indications were that he was focused on the Olympic race to come soon after the end of the Tour and not the green jersey points. Plus, as a teammate of one of the yellow jersey favorites, he has less support than he has had in the past.

With 63 km remaining the break was still 2:50 ahead. But, probably doomed. Indeed by 51 km left, it was already down to 1:40. Soon enough there was more urgency and a couple of crashes. And echelons (sort of)! A dull stage suddenly became much more exciting. With 8 km to go the break was absorbed and the jockeying for position began.

At the end, once again, the Fabian Cancellarar found himself in driving a winning break by himself, with nobody willing to lend a hand. With 800 metres to go, Cancellara attempted to wave Peter Sagan through, but the Sagan stayed on his wheel and let Cancellara tow him to the line.

Stage:Peter Sagan

Yellow: Fabian Cancellara


1 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan 5:05:32  
2 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:00:07  
3 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-QuickStep    
4 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:10  
5 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling 0:00:11  
6 Denis Menchov (Rus) Katusha Team 0:00:13  
7 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team    
8 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:00:17  
9 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:00:18  
10 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin - Sharp

Wine: No wine today as we are in Belgium.
Instead:  Rodenbach Grand Cru
From the importer: Award Winning* Rodenbach Grand Cru (Alc. 6% Vol.) is a blend of “young” beer (33%) and an older beer (67%) that has matured in oak vats. It is the high percentage of the older ripened-in-oak beer that gives it the complex and intense bouquet with a very long aftertaste like a Grand Cru wine. This is a complex beer with lots of wood and fruity esters, wine-like and with a balsamic vinegar aroma. A sharp taste, fruity, refreshing and with a balanced Madeira-like sweetness.
The late Michael Jackson bestowed upon this beer the titles of “World Classic” and “the Burgundy of Belgium.”

How to serve?
• Bottles should be kept at cellar or refrigerator temperature
• Serve between 6-8° C
• Always serve in its unique glass
• Hold the glass a slight angle and slowly pour the beer along the side of the glass until its is half full. Now straighten the glass and pour the remainder of the bottle from a slightly higher distance. To your health!

Ideally combined with foie gras, (fat contrasted with sour). One can also combine with sour dishes such as haring (herring?) or a cold fish salad (civiche) (ceviche?).

I say: This is the sort of beer that makes me sit up and and take notice, even though I did not serve it in its unique glass. Lots of cherry going on here from the color to the familiar (after my recent ryeing project) taste of sour cherries. Plus the balsamic mentioned above. 

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