Wednesday, July 18, 2012

TdF Stage 16: Pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon

Mastery of all aspects of cycling: Pau, a stronghold? Pau, a strategic place? On today's menu, a 197 km classic succession of great Pyrenean cols: the Aubisque, Tourmalet, Col d'Aspin and Peyresourde. As Christian Prudhomme said, a mere four days from the finish, this stage will turn the thumbscrews on the peloton! Moreover, such a course is exactly my idea of a true mountain stage: not with a summit finish, which tends to lock up the race a bit, but an up-and-down course which calls for a mastery of all aspects of cycling. Two years ago, Andy Schleck vacillated somewhat on the descents..."

MarkCavendish Jul 17, 8:50am via Twitter for iPad
I can see Paris from Pau!! Albeit with 8 Pyrenean mountains to get over first. Wish I could be 1 of the guys that can say "only 8 left".

 And here we are, rest day done, new doping scandal possible. It would be so nice to have a rest day without doping talk. Insead, we have Frank Schleck. I can think of nothing to say to make me fell better about that situation. Despite the fact that he has never been one of my favorites, the news is more than a little upsetting and just what the sport did not need. Foolish? Desperate? Poisoned? We'll have to wait and see.
Back at the race, there are 155 riders left and none of them will have an easy day today or tomorrow. For many in the peloton it is a matter of making it home it home before the time cut. For the gc group though, these two days are  likely the last real chances to get closer or overtake Bradley Wiggins.
Paulinho, Hincapie (Big George), Kessiakoff, Dumoulin, Jens!, Cummings, Popovych, and Ten Dam were some of the riders in the 38-man move at the 22km mark. At the 31km mark, the 38 were 3'45" ahead of the peloton that was led by Sky. And the racers were soon  down to 164 as Vladimir Gusev crashed at the 64km mark and was diagnosed with a broken collarbone. 
With about 80 km remaining there were already only 30 riders in the yellow jersey group, 9'10" behind the leaders. Ahead, Feillu and Voeckler were at the front, followed by Dan Martin and mulitple chase groups. On stages like this, there are usually multiple groups on the road as riders both fall back from the original breaks ad attack from the main bunch. With about 67 km to go, there were seven men from that original break together in the second chase group: Hincapie, Jens!, Stortoni, Ten Dam, Sorensen, Kessiakoff and Vinokourov (Vino). They were followed by at least two more groups ahead of the yellow jersey group which was about 10 minutes back from the front of the race. 
We don't see, but hear that that George Hincapie had an accident on the descent but he was quickly back on his bike and racing again after getting someone in the team car to clean up a nasty wound on his left shoulder. We did get to see George getting medical help from a doctor on a motorbike. Speaking of George, this article from the NY Times is very much worth a read. 
At the 136km completed mark, the peloton is 10'25" behind Voeckler and Feillu who are now 5km from the top of the col d'Aspin.
From twitter: 
Imagine a clown actor in a green shirt prepping for a new role, trying different faces in front of the mirror. That's Voeckler right now.
Behind, Evans fell back from the yellow jersey group, but was able to regain contact.
With a bit more than 25 km to go we have three pairs of riders at the front of the race: Feillu and Voeckler at the front, Vinokourov and Sorensen at 32",  Voigt and Izaguirre at 45" with Martin's group of five at 3'00" behind. The yellow jersey remained around 9 minutes back.
And there went Evans again. Clearly a decision had been for Tejay van Garderen not to wait as he continued on with the Wiggins group.  More Basso as everyone not rooting for Wiggins had their fingers crossed for an attack from Nibali. And finally it came. Why, yes, I did scream at my tv. But Froome and Wiggins held tough and caught him. And, yikes, Cadel Evans, at the last check was over three minutes behind the yellow jersey. Nibali went again! Again though, he was caught easily. Looks like our Paris podium is Wiggins, Froome and Nibali, barring any surprises tomorrow or a true time trial meltdown.

From twitter:
_Gavia_ 7:49am via Echofon
Wiggins is Induraining the heck out of this Tour.

Stage: Voeckler

1 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky Procycling 74:15:32  
2 Christopher Froome (GBr) Sky Procycling 0:02:05  
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 0:02:23  
4 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto Belisol Team 0:05:46  
5 Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack-Nissan 0:07:13  
6 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:07:55  
7 Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team 0:08:06  
8 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team 0:09:09  
9 Pierre Rolland (Fra) Team Europcar 0:10:10  
10 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ-Big Mat 0:11:43  

Wine:  Domaine Plageoles Muscadelle Sweet/Semi-Sweet:

I bought this wine for a Tour stage a while back and did not end up drinking it.
From the importer
The exceptional wines crafted at Plageoles represent some of the finest wines being made in Gaillac today. Bernard Plageoles is continuing the work of his father Robert, an outspoken advocate for natural wines with a centuries old approach to winemaking. Robert researched and replanted over a dozen varietals (7 in the Mauzac family alone) indigenous to Gaillac that had vanished. The Plageoles are one of the oldest winemaking families in the AOC and they are thoroughly invested in retaining the traditions and quality that this oft-overlooked AOC is now being universally praised for. The terroir in Gaillac is made up clay, limestone, sand and silex soils. Gaillac receives more sunshine than Bordeaux and is graced by a cool maritime climate. Bernard and his wife Myriam are keeping ancient winemaking traditions alive by crafting organic wines from nearly forgotten indigenous varieties. On ten hectares they farm Mauzac Vert, Mauzac Noir, Ondenc, Duras, Muscadelle, and Prunelart. To drink the wines from Plageoles is to experience the fruit and terroir of living history.

Age of Vines: 40-60 years
Yields: 15 hl 3,000 bottles
Pruning Method: Gobelet
Soil: Schist and Clay.
Varietals: Muscadelle.
Vinification Method: Traditional winemaking.
Tasting Note: Very rich notes of honey blossom on the nose. The palate is loaded with apple, dried apricot, quince paste with a flowering honey finish.
Pairing: With foie gras, custard, fruit tarts and pies, chocolate desserts, dried fruit and aged cheese.

I say:  I bought this wine for a tour stage several years ago, but ended up trying something else.Rich, lost of honey. Quince is exactly right. Sweet, but not sticky. Visiting guest "I love the second glass. The first was almost cidery."


  1. Nice summary. Good info on Hincapie. The Tour is Wiggins' to lose now. Big Tejay fans over here.

  2. BMC has Tejay and Taylor Phinney to be excited about for the future. One impressed in the Giro and the other here at the Tour.