Monday, July 16, 2012

TdF Stage 15

A strategic place

"A tip of the hat to provincial France, the France of the Tour. Our caravan will set off from Samatan, a large town with 2,200 inhabitants which is the main town of the Gers canton. It will probably be a calm start, as the stage is not particularly tough. A sprint finish would be the logical outcome, and I actually hope it happens, because pure sprinters will not get many chances to shine in this Tour. The finish in Pau will be beautiful, like always. This is the 64th time that the Tour visits this city, which is almost a record. Let us pay homage to this city, which we see as a stronghold and a strategic place."

Tack report: Tour organisers say there were 61 punctures due to the tacks on the road on Stage 14. Six team cars and 22 race vehicles affected.

Today it is time to form the break. I imagine that in the voice of the old Time to make the donuts commercial. While that is happening, Sylvain Chavanel abandons, bringing the number of riders left to 161. And soon it is 160 as Vincent Jerome also retires. 

Sky was rather grumbly about the formation of the break today, sending riders to the front in an attempt to slow things down.

T for timeout: Screenshot from Podium Cafe

From twitter: inrng 6:05am via web Is Sean Yates listening to the Village People's YMCA in Sky's team car and he's left the radio channel to the riders open?

And:  nedboulting 6:07am via web Team Sky trying to control this reminds me of my attempts to instil discipline at childrens' birthday parties. Utterly bereft of discipline.

After much back and forth, there is a five man break allowed to get away: Voeckler,  Vande Velde, Fedrigo, Devenyns and Dumoulin. At 72 km completed, they are joined by Nicki Sorensen. With 75km to go, the six at the front have a lead of 6'35".

With about 60 km remaining and the break at 5'20" there are two Lotto-Belisol riders at the head of the peloton, assisting with the chase. Perhaps hoping for a 30th birthday win by Andre Greipel?

And more abandonmenst: Lancatser, Bernaudeau and Kenny van Hummel. Perhaps eager to head home before the mountains later this week. To my surprise and disappointment, they let them go.  I was hoping for a Cavendish sprint victory. Alas. Instead, my fingers were crossed for Christian Vande Velde in the break. But in the end Fedrigo outsprinted Vande Velde for the stage win.

 Stage: Pierrick Fedrigo


1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 68:33:21  
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 du Pas de l'Escalette 2010 
From Arlequin Wine Merchant in San Francisco $18

From the importer
Terrasses du Larzac is a unique and exciting site in the vast Côteaux du Languedoc, just west of Pic Saint Loup. Le Pas de l’Escalette is the historic trail linking the Mediterranean plain to the high Larzac plateau. Not long ago mules were the principal mode of travel along this challenging transitional landscape but more recently the completed A75 motorway has advanced the position of the automobile.
This unique site is wild and rugged, crisscrossed by myriad streams, limestone outcroppings and caves. The principal cleavage exposing the valley below runs in a north-south direction offering two vineyard orientations: that of the rising and setting sun. Le Causse du Larzac as the locals call the south-western part of the Massif Central offers shelter and a check on the intense summertime heat making this area surprisingly, one of the coolest in the Languedoc. That makes for a longer, tempered ripening season and grapes that retain their balance and acidity. Domaine Pas de l’Escalette’s 15 hectares of vineyard, divided among 30 separate parcels, nestles on 350m high terraces supported by clapas, as dry stone walls are known locally, in the lower foothills of the Larzac plateau. 
Julien Zernott and Delphine Rousseau began coming to the area in 2001 in the hope that some opportunity would reveal itself. He was well established in the Loire Valley as a consulting oenologist, principally for his work at Domaine Pellé in Menetou-Selon. The couple was now in search of a new beginning along the road less travelled. Among this  postcard beautiful landscape they found that road in the form of an estate on the market possessing a collection of parcels super well situated and already being worked organically.  Since acquiring the estate in 2003, they have only further elaborated that work and are currently in transition toward organic certification. Early on they worked out of a small cellar in the nearby village of Poujols but have recently completed a new facility outside of town which is allowing them to comfortably expand production as new parcels have been added since the original purchase.
They work principally with Carignan and Grenache and a tiny amount of Syrah for the reds as well as Cinsault for the rosé. They were fortunate to have acquired parcels with an average age of 45 years and some beyond 80 years, a large portion being head pruned vines which excel at naturally limiting yields. Half the parcels face east and enjoy the rising sun, the rest face west and benefit from the setting sun. This “under-exposure” was one of the most important factors for Julien in deciding which parcels to work. Grapes are de-stemmed and fermented in 50hl oak casks with native yeast. Malolactic fermentation and aging takes place in smaller wood casks for about 10 months. 
In descending order of proportion in this cuvée: Grenache, Carignan, Cinsault, and Syrah. 100% destemmed fruit, fermented and raised in large, 50 hl Tonneau, for the purpose of preserving its juicy, primary and playful fruit character. Bottled in the spring following its vintage.

I say: Another hit. Lively, juicy and easy to drink. Gorgeous cherry color and bright fruit grounded by some soil. Very smooth. Another that might fall into the gulpable category.

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