From LeTour: Jean François Pescheux's view
Something special: "The frisson of excitement that went through the auditorium when we presented this stage at the Palais des Congrès in Paris last October proved we were spot on with our expectations: the double ascent of Alpe-d'Huez will be a sensation! This innovation comes at the end of a short stage that we wanted to be both nervous and dynamic. It's an ideal parcours for attackers, like the one that enabled Contador to turn things around at last year's Vuelta when everyone thought he was beaten. And, just as it suits him, it will also suit Purito Rodríguez? Climbing the Alpe twice for the first time in the 100th Tour will be something special..."
This stage set up for drama: Alpe d'Huez not once but twice, something never before done in the Tour. Plus, lots of hairpins, a descent that there is much concern about, and tv coverage starting at 3 am in my time zone. The dream of many fans is Froome isolated on one or more of the climbs, as his rivals attack.
Lots of great Alpe d'Huez trivia at Podium Cafe. I'll mention just one: "Alpe d'Huez made its first Tour appearance in 1952, almost a half century after the first Grande Boucle -- but was still the very first Mountain-Top finish in Tour history." I also recommend taking at look at this article from Inrng on "Fear and Safety in the Tour de France."
My Podium Cafe Stage Predictor Picks: Froome, Quintana, Rodriguez and Contador.
Dark and early, the alarm worked and it is time for the start of the stage. Feeling kind of like a child on Christmas morning: "Is it time to open the presents yet?" Really delighted that they are showing things from the start today. Note: the grupetto has not yet formed as they ride through the neutral section.
As soon as that section ends, the fight to get into a break begins. I wish we got to see this more often, as various groups form and are re-integrated into the peloton. At the same time, Tuft drops from the group to start a very early grupetto. Going to be a real fight to make the time cut.
Lots of attacks already from the big guns. Chris Froome is already out of teammates in the front group and is chasing down moves on his own. Still 157 kilometers to go and the action has been non-stop. Sad to see that Cadel Evans has already been dropped, along with many others. As they go over the top of the Col de Manse, there is a small regrouping and Froome gets a couple of teammates back.
inrng 3:59am via Web
Nine riders appear to be clear of the field: Amador, Tejay, Chavanel, Jens!, Boom, Jeannesson, Riblon, Moser & Danielson. Their gap is 1 minute 22 seconds with 146 kilometers to go. Behind them, SKY has regrouped and are leading the peloton.
|Quintana is in a good mood to start the day.|
Ahead, the gap is over 4 minutes with 138 kilometers to go.
What to expect on the road ahead, besides cycling: crazy fans:
Doctor_Hutch 4:19am via Web
From twitter, a look at the crowds at the so-called Dutch Corner on the Alpe. Huge crowds, most of whom have been camped out there for days now. Some more great images here.
Reports say 700, 000 people on the Alpe.
Speaking of twitter, this is awesome. It is, to quote "Live Twitter mentions for every rider at the Tour, counted in realtime during each stage and visualised in their position on the road."
The gap to the nine men up front continues to go and with 100 kilometers to go is up above six minutes. Poor Roche and Paulinho continue to ride somewhere in between the break and the peloton.
The upcoming climb is the Col d'Ornon which lasts 5.1km with a 6.7% gradient. There a sprint section at end of that descent, and then Alpe d'Huez begins at km 123. As the peloton hit the top of that Col d'Ornon climb, with 70k to go, the gap to Group Roche was 6:06 and the gap to peloton was 8:05.
Just as they hit the bottom of the first Alpe climb, the break splits but quickly regroups. Looks like the crowd numbers were probably not exaggerated. Wow.
Behind, in the peloton, Griepel takes the remaining sprint point. Ha!
Wine: Pierre Gonon Chasselas 2011
From Dig Wine
From the importer, JoliVin:
“The benchmark Saint Joseph domaine.”
John Livingstone-Learmonth - Author “The Wines of the Northern Rhône”
The appellation of Saint Joseph has certainly had challenges since the time of its inception in 1956, when it was launched from vineyards surrounding 6 villages in what is now known as the southern sector. Thirteen years later it was dramatically enlarged, bringing much indifferent production under its name. Thankfully, that trend was reversed when in an effort to repair the damage, the INAO began a multiyear project to declassify questionable vineyards to vin de pays status.
One name, however, in the southern town of Mauves for many years prior to the creation of this appellation is that of Pierre Gonon. In fact, Pierre Gonon, founder of the domaine that still bears his name even though sons Jean & Pierre are now in full command of the winery, sat on the council which drew the original lines creating the appellation. He planted, by massale selection, many of the vines which today are still bearing the fruit used in their production. Pierre was also far sighted in his commitment to white wine and planted Marsanne in 1958, soon after the appellation was born. Today, thanks to dad, the domaine has some impressive older vines on the most revered site for white wine in the appellation, Les Oliviers. In total, there are 7 hectares planted to Syrah and 2 to Marsanne/Roussanne.
The soils are fertilized only with their own composts and plowed for aeration. Only natural treatments are used in the vineyard, including sulphur to treat odium and plant extracts and tisanes to treat pests. Yield are kept very low by short pruning and green harvesting in July, resulting in yields of 30 hl/ha for the reds and 38 hl/ha for the whites. Grapes are harvested by hand (anything else is impossible on these steep slopes) and fermentations take place in the presence of naturally occurring yeast.
Although they profit from many old vine parcels which surround the historic center of this appellation, the Gonon brothers are uninterested in the current trend toward single vineyard bottlings at the expense of the “entry level” cuvées. Rather, they choose to draw from all of their historic parcels, each lending a distinct character to craft only a single white and a single red Saint Joseph cuvée and uphold the best virtues of the appellation system for which it was created, with the intent to promote the entire appellation.
A look upon or a drive through these steep vineyards immediately humbles the viewer: the work is physically challenging with little or no possibility of any tractor navigating these slopes and so much is done by hand, vine by vine, 9 hectares in all. Unadulterated, unfiltered, respectfully and traditionally made. It remains nothing short of a pleasure and an honor to represent the hard working Gonon brothers and their unmistakable reference wines for this historic appellation.
From Dig: A new wine from Pierre and Jean Gonon, this Chasselas is made from vines planted in 1920 on granite slopes. Aromatics express melon, white flower, peach skin and ginger-spice. Richly textured and spicy on the palate. A bit exotic, but focused and with bright acidity. Only 75 cases produced.
I say : Having a little fun with my wine choice today for the trip to the mountains. A swiss grape, Chasselas, grown in the northern Rhone. This wine surprised me, though I've had Chasselas before. The pale yellow, lemonade like color had me anticipating light and crisp. Instead, this is full and lush. Quince with some acid on the finish.