204.5 km Bourg-d'Oisans to Le Grand-Bornand
From LeTour: Jean François Pescheux's view
A day for the bold: "What was true in the Pyrenees is also true in the Alps: although the Tour de France is coming to its end, we wanted to offer bold riders the kind of terrain that will allow them to have an impact on the outcome. The first name that comes to me when I think of a rider of this type is Pierre Rolland: he loves the Alps and this run of consecutive cols, notably the Glandon and the Madeleine, seems likely to suit him. It remains to be seen if he will have any room for manoeuvre or if it will come down to a question of who is the strongest if the overall classification is very tight? I would like to see the former scenario. I don't like to think of us already knowing the name of the final winner on the summit of Alpe-d'Huez."
The Alpe was fun, wasn't it? The French finally had a stage winner, Tejay Van Garderen showed why a lot of people see great things in is future and Froome showed his first real moments of weakness in the race. Also, the grupetto made it in. Adam Hansen even had a beer. Also, video of a crazy fan chasing Tejay and tripping.
Today, up we go again, almost from the very start of today's stage. And with a lot of tired legs from yesterday's struggles, it will be a hard day.
I recommend this detailed look at the route from WillJ at Podium Cafe. He knows a lot more about the route than I do and thinks there is the potential for a very exciting day of racing. I'll post his "final words" on the stage here: "This is a stage with the potential for excitement throughout, from the very early steep slopes of Col du Glandon, until the hair-raising descent to Le Grand Bornand. It's impossible not to expect compelling story lines throughout in a stage that will be far harder for Sky to control than at the Alpe or Le Semnoz. And don't forget the Grupetto. This is the stage to keep an eye on time cut-offs.
The Lanterne Rouge will earn his stripes."
My Podium Cafe Stage Predictor Picks: Quintana, J-Rod, Valverde and Talansky.
3 a.m. again and tv coverage kicks in a bit after the race start. The situation on the road: after 21 km: Izaguirre and Hesjedal have 40" on group of 41 chasers, peloton follows at 3'08. After a Tour dominated by good weather, in contrast to this year's Giro, some rain.
Also again today, Sky at the front of the peloton, controlling the favorites group. 171 kilometers remaining and Hesjedal and Izaguirre continue to have about 3 minutes over that very large chasing group and 6 minutes over the yellow jersey group.
At the top of the first climb, Hesjedal takes the points over Izaguirre. The first chaser over at 3 minutes back is yesterday's stage winner, Riblon, from that 41-man group. The peloton behind is over 7 minutes back, but as we saw yesterday, time can be made up quickly. Word that Jack Bauer has fallen and abandoned the race. Yikes, apparently a barbed wire fence was involved. I always hate hearing about riders who get this far into the race and have to abandon so close to Paris.
|I love Straw Dog's handy status update screencaps|
Christian VandeVelde in studio for some thoughts on NBCSN. Nice timing, with Ryder, his teammate, up the road. Perhaps he has a future as a commentator?
Meanwhile, the Cav group has been passed by the peloton and Cadel Evans has once again been dropped. I think his great Giro performance took too much out of him to thrive in this last week of the Tour. He is now in the grupetto with Cav, Kittel and others.
2 Quintana (MOV) 97
3 Riblon (ALM) 93
4 Nieve (EUS) 89
5 Rolland (EUC) 88
6 Moser (CAN) 72
Gorgeous scenery as the peloton are descending off the Col de la Madeleine now. No attacks yet from any of the gc contenders. Vichot crashes into a shallow ditch, but is quickly up with lots of hand waving, trying to walk it off. He gets back on and starts riding again.
With 95.5 kilometers to go, the gap is 11'30" to the peloton and 4'13" to the chasers. Amazing to read that one of the race moto guys, descending at 105 km/h just got passed by Gilbert. Word of another abandonment,Marcel Sieberg, who apparently crashed somewhere off camera and broken his collarbone.
84 kilometers to go and Saxo-Tinkoff has come to the front. Another Contador attack on tap? Either that or they are hungry and in a hurry to get to the feed zone. Or, less fun, the tv commentators suggest that they are defending their lead in the team competition. Ahead a flat tire for Rolland, but Hesjedal waits for him. 70 kilometers to go and they have 2 minutes over the closest chase group and 11 minutes over the peloton. As soon as I typed that, Rolland drops Hesjedal. Saxo still leads the peloton.
Still to come today: Cat 2 Col de Tamie (8.6km, 6.2%), Cat 1 Col de l'Epine (6.1km, 7.3%), Cat 1 Col de la Croix Fry (11.3km, 7%). Two more abandons:
Christophe le Mevel and Kris Boeckmans. As Rolland continues alone in his quest for kom points, the lead chase group just 1'47" behind with 59.7km to go.
That group apparently contains: De Marchi (CAN), De Clercq (LTB), Burghardt, Moinard (BMC), Bakelants, Didier, Kloden (RLT), Geniez (FDJ), Bardet (ALM), Hernandez (TST), Izaguirre, Nieve, Perez, Sicard (EUS), Costa, Plaza, Rojas (MOV), Coppel, Navarro (COF), Cunego (LAM), Gesink, Nordhaug (BEL), Dumoulin, Geschke (ARG), Flecha, Hoogerland (VCD), Feillu (SOJ).
Soon though, word that Hesjedal, Cunego, Rojas, Izaguirre, Didier, and Hoogerland have been dropped from that group. Weather alert: It has apparently begun pouring at the top of the Col de La Croix Fry climb.
Rolland is starting to look tired, but he pushes on.
History, culture and some really cool roadside art along the route. Even Willow is impressed.
Kennaugh and Thomas from Sky drop off the bunch behind, but still no attacks in the yellow jersey group.
30 kilometers to go and Rolland has almost 2 minutes over the chase group. 9 minutes back to the peloton.
It looked unlikely a few minutes ago, but Rolland may have a chance.
Behind, Siustou and Stannard are also dropped for Sky. The peloton is getting smaller, but will we see any action from them today? Lots more climbing on tomorrow's stage, plus they must be tired from yesterday.
More of a weather update: Thunder. Heavy storms predicted in the next 40 minutes with 30km left. 23 kilometres to go and Rolland has only one minute over the chasers now. The peloton is 8 minutes back. The chase members are attacking each other now, sensing the possibility of a catch of Rolland and stage victory.
22 kilometers remaining and here comes the rain. Heavy rain and picture break up on the chase group and peloton. Just under 20 kilometers left and Rui Costa catches and passes Rolland.Can Rolland hang on for the kom points? No. He is caught by more of the chasers. Costa still ahead. 16 kilometers to go and Costa has around 30 seconds over a chasing group og Kloden, Bakelants, DeClerq and Navarro. Still very wet. Valverde attacks the yellow jersey group, Gadret bridges to him. No other response.
Costa goes over the top with about 1 minute over the chasers, probably wondering what could have been if he did not stop for the Valverde mechanical last week. Just about 14 kilometers to go and the gap to the yellow jersey group is still 9 minutes. 10 kilometers for Costa, 15 for the group.
inrng 7:52am via Web
J-Rod attacks. Quintana, Contador, Froome go with him. They catch Valverde and Gadret. Porte dropped. Small group of most of the top riders, minus Kreuziger. 3 km to go for Costa ahead and he still has 1 minute over Kloden. He does it! Second stage win of the Tour for Rui Costa.
5 kilometers still to go for the yellow jersey group. Rejoining at the back, Richie Porte. Froome 104 on king of the mountain points, Rolland 103.
Stage: Rui Costa
2 A. Klöden RadioShack +48
3 J. Bakelants RadioShack +1:44
4 A. Geniez FDJ.fr +1:52
5 D. Navarro Cofidis +1:55
6 B. De Clercq Lotto +1:58
7 R. Gesink Belkin +2:03
8 A. De Marchi Cannondale +2:05
9 M. Nieve Euskaltel +2:16
10 R. Plaza Movistar +2:44
Yellow: Chris Froome
2. Contador +5:11
3. Quintana +5:32
4. Kreuziger +5:44
5. Rodriguez +5:58
6 Mollema +8'58
7 Fuglsang +9'33
8 Navarro +12'33"
9 Valverde + 14'56"
10 Kwiatkowski + 16'08"
Wine: Danilo Thomain Enfer d'Arvier 2011
Description from the importer, Neal Rosenthal:
The vineyards of the Enfer d’Arvier appellation are situated in an amphitheater-shaped site on steep slopes in a high-altitude valley, which receives ample sun. The shape of this “bowl” of vineyards effectively concentrates the heat of the sun, thus giving birth to the “hell of Arvier” moniker. Danilo Thomain is the only independent vigneron working this tiny appellation only five hectares in size. The Thomain family works one hectare of vineyards here in the shadow of Mont Blanc.
A traditional wine made from the Petit Rouge grape and vinified in cuve, it has a compelling rusticity with a wild berry impression and a lively freshness on the palate. Production at the Thomain estate is approximately 2500 bottles per year, approximately two-thirds of which is shipped to us for the US markett!
From the Frankly Wines website: A great wine for wine geeks and non-wine geeks, alike. Open this bottle and enjoy a nose that boasts of fruit leather and black pepper... first sips give you round dark red, plummy flavors, and earthiness...let it linger a bit for some jammy, rounder fruit and a finish that leaves you wanting more! But wait - dare we say it...? DON'T FINISH THE BOTTLE! (unless, of course, you are not looking to "geek-out", then by all means, drink away.) Save some for tomorrow, and savor the evolution that this wine shows: that plummyness of yesterday gives way to a surprising tingle of wild strawberries (those tiny french ones, s'il vous plait), and the earthiness is brightened by some sagey notes. Black pepper and leather, too. The devil will keep you coming back for more. - JEANNA
You can learn a lot more about the wines of the region from this Eric Asimov article in the New York Times. A teaser: "The Valle d’Aosta is a winding network of vineyards, some on dizzyingly steep slopes at the highest elevations of any in Europe. The wines are by both tiny producers and bigger cooperatives, coming from a few familiar grapes (pinot noir, nebbiolo, gamay) and a whole host you rarely see anywhere else, like fumin and cornalin, petit rouge and prié. . ."
I say: I've skipped across the border to the Val d'Aoste. The importer's description includes the phrase “hell of Arvier”. Seemed like a good fit for another day of climbing. I'll dedicate a glass to the grupetto.
Very deep color. Earthy with black pepper and black currants. As ordered, I did not finish the bottle on night one. I don't know if I would agree with wild strawberries, but certainly brighter fruit and less earthiness. Very glad that I read and planned ahead.