Friday, July 13, 2012

TdF Stage 12: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Annonay Davézieux

Many will get fidgety

"Yet another strategic stage, one which could tip the balance in the points classification on its own. Why? Because we have adorned the first part of this long stage (226 km) with the Col de Grand Cucheron and the Col du Granier. The latter will be climbed on its most difficult side. A high pace will knock out the sprinters, favouring riders who are fast and capable of hanging onto the bunch on climbs. We will insist that time limits be applied strictly, so I bet many riders will get fidgety, and some of them will not forget the finish in Annonay any time soon..."

First, some morning reading:Bradley Wiggins: I can never dope because it would cost me everything.
They start again in the Savoie and travel 226 kilometers to the Ardeche, making this the longest stage of the 2012 Tour.The climbs start earl and most predict that it will be a day for a winner from a breakaway. With the mention of time limits above, one hopes that the grupetto can make it across the line in time.
From twitter:
MarkCavendish 12:41am via Twitter for BlackBerry®
Right now I would love to sleep. Instead, I'm preparing to ride 226km with 2x10km climbs in the 1st 80km. Lucky we love it!

Of course, he is not on this excellent graphic showing the distribution of work yesterday from Team Sky:
Excellent graphic by L'Equipe to show the work of the Bradley Wiggins' teammates yesterday :
 Back in the race, LeTour thinks the break will make it:
The sun is shining, the temperature is a warm 26.5 degrees Celsius and there is a light crosswind (from the left) as the peloton cruises along 11'30" behind the escapees. The chance of rain, minimal.
The likelihood of the escape staying away all the way to Annonay: high.
 The break is down to five with David Millar, Cryil Gautier, Jean-Christophe Peraud, Egoi Martinez and Robert Kiserlovski. Back in the bunch, Goss won the intermediate sprint ahead of Greipel and Sagan. Ahead, Millar's group is 60km from the finish and is 11'30" ahead.
And at the finish,  David Millar took his fourth career Tour de France stage win and claimed Great Britain's fourth of this year's race when he outsprinted Jean-Christophe Peraud to win stage 12 into Annonay Davézieux. The two riders were part of a five-man breakaway also including Robert Kiserlovski, Cyril Gautier and Egoi Martínez (Euskaltel) who built up a lead of more than 12 minutes on the bunch towards the end of the longest stage of the race.

Yellow: David Millar
1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 54:34:33  
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:  Eric Texier Chateauneuf Du Pape Vieilles Vignes 2009 from Dig Wines in San Francisco $65
 From the producer:
In the early 14th century Pope Clément V would regularly travel from Avignon by mule to the small village of Châteauneuf to inspect his vineyard. Clément became Pope in 1309, during the severely strained relations between the King of France and the Roman Papacy. As a native Frenchman (from Bordeaux) he decided it would be better to remain in France and moved the Papacy to Avignon where it remained until 1378 (also known as the Great Schism).
Clement was already an accomplished vigneron, having planted his own vineyard in Bordeaux (in the Graves region) known as Château Pape-Clement. But while he did have a few vines near Avignon it was his successor, Pope John XXII who was responsible for the development of Châteauneuf du Pape as a world renown wine-producing region. It was also John XXII that built the papal summer residence (to escape the heat and bustle of Avignon) in the small village of Châteuneuf. Pope John used the 10 hectares that came with the Chateau but found he needed much more wine for his papal feasting in Avignon where one feast included 55 sheep, 690 chickens, 580 partridges, 270 rabbits, 8 pigs, 4 wild boar, 40 plovers, 37 ducks and 50 pigeons. As a result he contracted for an annual delivery of 1,550 liters from the village of Bédarrides, which is part of the Châteauneuf du Pape appellation today.
-Grenache and Mourvèdre blend
-Harvest is usually mid September for Grenache, early October for Mourvèdre
-A.O.C established 15 May 1936 & today 3,140 HA in production
 Wine Éric's Châteauneuf du Pape is a dark purple-black color with intense aromas of new saddle leather, sweet dark fruit, earth and peppered with provincial herbs. This is a big and bold wine with ripe, well-structured tannins that are nicely balanced by the crisp acidity. This is a wine that benefits from decanting, goes very well with beef and strong cheeses and will age well between 3 and 30 years. 
Vineyards Two vineyards are used to produce Éric's Châteauneuf du Pape. The Grenache comes from La Crau, a north facing vineyard in the northeastern part of the appellation, towards Courthézon. Many of the Grenache vines are over 70 years old and because of the northern exposure the tannins reach phenol ripeness without an overwhelmingly high alcohol level. The Mourvèdre comes from a vineyard on the southern edge of the appellation and provides crisp acidity to the blend. All of the vines are gobelet trained (head pruned) which keeps the fruit low and protected from the gusts of le mistral. Both the old Grenache vines and the Mourvèdre go through malolactic fermentation in 1 year old barrels.
Terroir  Located 16 kilometers from Avignon, Châteauneuf du Pape is a relatively flat appellation that includes vineyards above the Rhône in the village of Châteauneuf du Pape as well as the neighboring villages of Bédarrides, Courthézon, Orange and Sorgues. The terroir is known for it's galets roulés - the rust and cream colored, smooth, rounded stones ranging in size from a large tomato to a football. The galets roulés are deposits left behind when the Alpine glaciers that once covered the region retreated.
The appellation sits square in the middle of le mistral's well traveled path from the Alps to the Mediterranean Sea which blows on average 145 days a year with speeds of up to 80 kph (50 mph). As a result the vines are naturally kept free of pests and rot. The galets roulés retain the hot summer sunshine keeping the vines warm well into the night, with produces riper grapes than many other areas of the Rhône Valley.
I say: I hesitated on this wine, as I really had gone to Dig seeking something from either the Moselle or the Pyrenees.  Also, I was nervous that an 09 CdP would be far too young to drink. But, to my delight, I was wrong. Plum, berries, elegant, much less big and bold and tanniny than I expected. I told a friend that, for some unknown reason, it made me think of notes passed in grade school: "Do you like me? I like you." I can say without a doubt: "yes!"

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