Thursday, July 12, 2012

TdF Stage 11 Albertville to La Toussuire - Les Sybelles

A tough one "One of the shortest stages in the 99th edition. But riders beware, it is a tough one! The course is simple: after the first thirteen kilometres from Albertville, the peloton will be hard pressed to find a single inch of flat terrain! The cyclists will tackle La Madeleine, La Croix de Fer and Le Mollard one after the other before the final climb up La Toussuire. Let me tell you, the final podium will start to take shape on the finish line here! Those who falter in this stage will get no second chances. The winner will not be known yet, but the losers certainly will."

Today they start in Albertville, situated in the Combe de Savoie near the Tarentaise, Beaufortain and the Val d'Arly, that gave it its nickname of the Crossroads of the four valleys. They finish in La Toussuire. Perched on its plateau of alpine pastures it offers a 360 degree panorama on the majestic Aguilles d'Arves, the mountain passes of the Croix de Fer and of Glandon and the eternal glaciers. All told it is 148 gorgeous yet challenging kilometers.
A happy withdrawal to start the stage as Fabian Cancellara has gone home to await the imminent arrival of his second child. Other abandons include Mark Renshaw, Gustav Larsson and Lieuwe Westra.
 Back at the race, they were off in a hurry today with attacks and multiple groups on the road, that are changing with each kilometer ridden. By about halfway through the day, the lead group contains, among others, Michele Scarponi (again) and Alejandro Valverde.  Next on the road is a larger chase group including Levi Leipheimer, Ivan Basso, Vino, and Johnny Hoogerland (if you don't know his name, think of the footage from last year's tour involving a car and barbed wire fence). As these two front groups merged, almost all of the riders I mentioned are dropped. But with 65 km to go, a group of 11 with Pierre Rolland, Chris Horner, Peter Velits and more continued on with about a 4 minute lead over the main peloton. 
And then, Cadel Evans attacked. Behind Wiggins can be seen issuing instructions to Mick Rogers who is ahead of Richie Porte and the yellow jersey. They are 15" behind Evans and van Garderen, who are briefly joined by teammate Moinard.
Sadly though, they could not get very far after some masterful riding from Mick Rogers on the front of the suddenly very small peloton.
nyvelocity 7:06am via TweetDeck
Tejay and Cadel have about five Fiat's lengths ahead of Wiggo group‚ I use Euro measurements

Evans' attack lasted 5km and then he was back with the yellow jersey. With 60 km to go, they were 2'55" behind the stage leaders. The riders in the yellow jersey group: Wiggins, Froome, Rogers, Porte, Evans, van Garderen, Basso, Nibali, Pinot, van den Broeck and Brajkovic. Ahead there are only five riders in the lead group: Horner, Kisierlovski, Kessiakoff, Rolland, Martin, Ten Dam, and Kiryienka.
Having missed the end of the stage live due to a meeting, here is some info from PodiumCafe:"Pierre Rolland gave Europcar and French cycling a second consecutive victory in the Alps with a solo effort to take Stage 11 of the Tour de France. The 25-year-old Loire Valley native can add La Toussuire to his palmares, which already includes Alpe d'Huez from last year's Tour, after he dropped a trio of Vasil Kiryienka (Movistar), Robert Kiserlovski (Astana), and Chris Anker Sorensen (Saxo-Tinkoff), who were the animators of today's stage, trading blows over the Col de la Croix de Fer and Col de Mollard. The four regrouped for the final climb, but Rolland had the most left when the attacks came, and there was no meaningful response when he made his move. Sky's Bradley Wiggins maintained his yellow jersey, but not without wobbling a bit, while Cadel Evans of BMC cracked on the final climb to surrender his top placing."

Stage: Pierre Rolland
1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 48:43:53  
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:02:05  
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:02:23  
4 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:03:19  
5 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team 0:04:48  
6 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan 0:06:15  
7 Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:06:57  
8 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team 0:07:30  
9 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:08:31  
10 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:08:51  

Wine: Domaine Belluard Vin de Savoie Ayse Methode Traditionnelle
Imported by Selection Massale  (Note, I've said this before, join their mailing list.)

In a land survey from 1730 the total acreage in Ayse was estimated to be 375 hectares.  After the repeated blows from Oïdium, Phyloxerra, and the two world wars, in 1955 there was only 40 hectares, seven years later the number was down to a mere nineteen.  It was in this time of what must have seemed to be the end of the local wine industry that the Belluards began making wine.  In 1947 Dominique's grandfather began farming land around Ayse, growing a mixture of fruit trees and grapes, primarily the incredibly rare indigenous grape Gringet.  this continued until the 1980s when Dominique, fresh from oenology school returned and made Gringet's fate his own.  Since then he has worked tirelessly in this small commune to grow, protect and promote Gringet, which is grown on only twenty two hectares of land worldwide, of which he owns twelve.

Dominique's entire philosophy of winemaking is based upon getting the best expression of  Gringet on his terroirs.  Gringet (which contrary to what some people believe is not Traminer/Savagnin according to DNA testing) is perfectly at home on the southern exposed slopes around Ayse.  The grape, which ripens late, requires enough sun during the day to prevent the frost that plagues the region.   In 2001 Dominique decided to convert his vineyards to biodynamics, which he feels interferes the least with the some seven hundred years of history (that we know of, some people speculate that Gringet pre-dates the roman influence in the area) between the land and the vines that grew there.   When he didn't like what wood was doing to his wines, he got rid of the barrels he was trying out and moved to stainless steel.  Later he decided that perhaps fermenting his wines in larger volumes wasn't doing justice to his individual parcels he decided to invest in concrete eggs (for his white wines) and clay amphorae (for his tiny plot of Mondeuse) to ferment his wines, a process he is still in the middle of.
2007 Domaine Belluard Ayse Brut "Méthode Traditionelle"  750ml:  $20.57
100% sparkling Gringet grown in limestone scree from the nearby mountain range of Chablais.   The elevage for this wine is done in house, unlike many people making sparkling wine outside of Champagne Dominique does not bring any of his wine to a champagnisateur, opting instead to do all the work himself, a considerable financial investment.  The wine is made méthode champenoise and spends 2 years on the lees prior to disgorgement.  This is the wine Dominique makes the most of (Ayse used to produce mostly sparkling) and it is perhaps the wine that best translates the minerality and freshness that Gringet brings.  These are some of the most serious sparkling wines we've come across in all of France and would suggest laying some down for 2-4 years as they develop beautifully.

I say: Gringet, well that is a grape I do not know well. After a search, I've settled on this info from wikipedia:
Gringet is an autochthonous white wine grape from Haute-Savoie, France that is used as both a blending grape and for varietal wines. It is mainly used in the Ayze AOC sparkling wine production. The wine grape grown on the hills above the lower Vallee de l'Arve, in the French Alps (Haute-Savoie).
It is unique to the region and there is no link with Savagnin or any Traminer variety.

The very sparkling tour continues with one from the Savoie. Small bubbles, chalky, minerally, yeasty. Nuttier as it warms up. 


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