Tuesday, July 3, 2012

TdF Stage 3 Orchies to Boulogne-sur-Mer

Opening of hostilities: "We are now in France and ready to start from Orchies, a familiar place for classics specialists. One could be forgiven for thinking we have come for the cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix, but we are actually going to ride straight away from them towards the hills of the Boulonnais. Six big climbs in 100 kilometres, four of which in the last 16 kilometres. This could mark the opening of hostilities in the Tour. There is no way the sprinters will be there at the finish, which will be decided at the same place as the French Championships won by Chavanel. I think the bunch will be smashed to smithereens."

From twitter:  EuroHoody 4:18am via web
Gusting winds, cool temps and rain already spitting at the finish-line in Boulogne; 70% chance of afternoon showers, will make it muckier
EuroHoody 4:17am via web
Pure sprinters will not be getting up the final climb to challenge for the stage, way too steep + the climbs in run-in should thin pack
EuroHoody 12:43am via Twitter for iPhone
Will be some fireworks today; chance of rain, wind will make things even more int.; Gilbert; Valverde; Sagan could have chances vs sprinters

Orchies - Boulogne sur Mer 197 km 
 And they are off. To a day that should get interesting. For now we have our break of the day and Michael Morkov is once again in it, making it three days in a row. With just about 100 km to go the breakaway riders have a lead of 3'55" after starting their attack at the 5km mark.
And then, well, the crashes started leading to our first dnf of the race, Konstantin Siutsou, followed soon by Jose Joaquin Rojas.
With groups all over the road, Sylvain Chavanel surprised no one at all by attacking at the 5km mark.  Radio Shack responded, as did BMC, and he was caught with just about 1km left.
Peter Sagan then emerged from the lead group of riders on a steep slope, avoided a crash that held up half of them and a slick turn that took more riders to take the stage victory.
It was, in all, a chaotic day.

Stage: Peter Sagan
Yellow: Fabian Cancellara 
  1. Fabian Cancellara, RSH
  2. Bradley Wiggins, Sky, at 0.07
  3. Sylvain Chavanel, OPQS, s.t.
  4. Tejay Van Garderen, BMC, at 0.10
  5. Boasson Hagen, at 0.11

Ridgeview Fitzrovia English Sparkling Wine Rose 2009 (Sussex, England):
Price: $39.99 Franklywines
Then we zigged or zagged or some such thing. 
I was thinking beer for this stage, but Christy Frank from Franklywines in NY stepped in with an alternative.
 In her words "a little off beat, but what about an English sparkling wine? Those white cliffs of Dover are just across the Channel... at one point, they were France! And it's the closet wine producing area to that stage, as far as I can tell. And of course, I have one:"

How could I resist?

 The producer says:
In 1994 we planted our original site at the foot of the South Downs in Sussex. With advice from Epernay we selected 13 French clones of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier on three different root stocks. This way we can emulate “l’assemblage” of the Champagne Houses that combine together the vintages of small vineyards, thereby creating imaginative blends. We have expanded our production through the development of partnerships with a number of growers who are predominantly in or adjacent to the South Downs National Park.
“To me, it was obvious that sparkling wine was the way to go because what you get here in Sussex (and in Champagne) is fully ripe grapes with great flavour, but which aren’t high in alcohol, as this prevents fermentation, which creates fizz.  Because we get cold nights even in summer, English grapes have super-acidity – the hallmark of a good sparkling wine” 
Mike Roberts
The regions climate is semi-continental and, like the champagne region just 88 miles to the south, has cool nights which make it ideally suited for the growing of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier for traditional method sparkling wines. The cooler climate enables the grapes to retain high levels of natural acidity when they are fully ripe which is crucial to producing sparkling wines with fine flavours. 
Christy says: "Yes it's English wine, but don't be afraid. Those white cliffs of Dover... that's a continuation of the soil that you find in Champagne. Grapes...same. Production method...same. No, it's still doesn't have that something-something that the very best Champagnes have, but it's damn fine and costs a bit less. And we're suckers for an English accent."

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