Saturday, July 14, 2012

TdF Stage 13: Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux - Le Cap d’Agde
From LeTour:

Not a piece of cake

"Another long stage. This one stretches 217 km from Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux to Cap d'Agde, where the bunch will embrace the Mediterranean. A treasure trove of beautiful TV pictures... and the prospect of a sprint finish, at least among those fast men who have managed not to lose contact on the climb up the Mont-Saint-Clair, 23 kilometres from the finish. In other words, the stage is not a piece of cake and the race could go crazy. Moreover, the wind is always a menace near the Mediterranean, and we already saw what it can do when the Tour visited La Grande Motte in 2009... The 217km route to the south takes the peloton through three departments: starting in Drôme, the race crosses into Vaucluse at the 7km mark and then to Hérault for the final 108km."

Given the lack of French sprinters at the Tour, it seems strange to have a sprint stage on Bastille Day. LeTour tells me that this will be the hottest day of the 99th Tour with the temperature early this morning almost 30 degrees Celsius and there's little threat of any rain. The wind is expected to play a factor at the finish of the stage that includes only one categorised climb, the Mont Saint-Clair that comes 23km from the finish.

RT @TrueBS: HUGE NEWS—in 164th place, Tyler Farrar holding down TdF Lanterne Rouge. America has never has an LR

Also, if you are not watching I highly recommend a daily glance at Breakfast with Bernie, featuring Mark Cavendish's teammate and mountain aid or as he puts it:

Can honestly say I'd be pretty lost in cycling without ,particularly at this years Tour. The man's my guardian angel incarnate

And the break went out fast and early: 6'00" behind at 29km. To no surprise the break includes Michael Morkov, who has been on the attack for longer than any other rider this year having been in escapes on three successive days at the start of this year's Tour.  Before today had spent a total of 622.5km in escape groups during the 2012 Tour.
At the 109km mark, the peloton was 5'00" behind Urtasun, Bouet, Dumoulin, Engoulvent, Ladagnous, Morkov, Pineau and Curvers. But that was droping quckly and with 70km to go in the stage, the eight escapees had a lead of just 2'20".
Morkov went out on his own at around 60km from the finish. At the start of the final 50km, he had a lead of 43" on the other break riders with the peloton 3'00" behind. Unlike yesterday, the peloton was in a hurry with an average speed over the first four hours of 43.4km/h!

Meanwhile behind, the peloton split in two.
 TeamSky 7:13am via Web
Around a third of the peloton have been cut off and will really struggle to get back on. This was always going to be a risk today #TDF12

At the start of the ascent of the Mont Saint-Clair, Morkov had just about a minute on the peloton. Behind, Goss, Cavendish and Farrar have been dropped early on the climb. Evans is at the front of the peloton as it ascends with Wiggins is right on his wheel .  
Would it be another day for Sagan? Unlike many of the sprinters, he survived the steep slopes of the climb and was at the front of the peloton with 20 km to go. 
With 17 km to go, Morkov had faded and the GC favorites were in the lead, 20" ahead of the next best group. There were about 25 men in the group at the front including Wiggins, Froome, Nibali, Evans, Van den Broeck, Zubeldia, and van Garderen. And, look, an attack by Vinokourov. Vino attack!
The group of @MarkCavendish is 1' 15" back with 16km to go. Vinokourov (AST) attacks off front, Albasini (OGE) follows #TDF12

With 8km to go, Vinokourov and Albasini were still at the front of the stage, with a lead of 16" on the bunch led by Lotto.
inrng 7:50am via Web
Lead group splits with 2.5km to go in the crosswinds. Lead two caught by Lotto train / Wiggins group

And just as soon as the catch happened Luis Leon Sanchez attacked but was caught. With a lunge for the line ahead of Peter Sagan it is André Greipel winning again!  In third, Edvald Boasson Hagen, after a nice lead out from Bradley Wiggins in yellow.

Stage:  André Greipel
1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 59:32:32  
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 le Sang des  Cailloux Vacqueyras

From the importer:
One glimpse of Serge Férigoule’s barbell moustache might be enough for one to be completely enamored with the wines of Le Sang des Cailloux, although they also speak remarkably well for themselves. This domaine’s name means “the blood of the stones,” and Serge Férigoule is most certainly the heart that links the two together.  In 1974, Serge left winemaking school with a longing to return to the vineyards. He went to work for Monsieur Ricard’s family in 1979 to oversee the vineyards. Without anyone in his family to succeed him, Ricard decided to gamble by partnering with Serge in 1982. In 1990, after Monsieur Ricard’s retirement, Serge launched Le Sang des Cailloux. Vacqueyras had just been awarded an A.O.C. that same year, a timely twist of fate that helped Serge’s wines to become as celebrated as they deserve.

All of Serge’s seventeen hectares rest on the great Plateau des Garrigues, where red clay, limestone, and the famous galets roulés, or rounded stones, impart a terrific intensity and depth to the wines. Given the aridity of the soil, the vines here are naturally prone to lower yields—this gives the wines their concentration and power. That Serge has been farming organically for years but has never sought certification says something about his philosophy. He is not looking to impress; only to make the best wines he possibly can. Serge is also sentimental—each year, the Cuvée Traditionnelle of Le Sang des Cailloux is named for one of his daughters, Floureto, Doucinello and Azalaïs. The “Vieilles Vignes” is also called “Lopy,” named for his hometown. His wines have everything we love about the Rhône – wild and chewy with great notes of leather, spicy garrigue, and smoky, black fruit.

I say:  Red berries, more acidity than I expected. Some wet earth and dirt, but lots of fruit and herbs as well. Chewy. As it opened up the leather and smoke referenced above became more dominant.

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