Not a single metre of flat: "We are not going to hide our feeling of satisfaction: this is the kind of stage we've been looking for for years! It's simple: there's not a single metre of flat, which means the peloton will get very stretched out, presenting the very real possibility of splits occurring. Let this be a warning to any team leaders who might mistakenly believe they can ride towards the back of the field? especially as, at 145km, this stage is very short! It will give the puncheurs plenty to conjure with. Thinking about just the French riders of that type, I can imagine Voeckler and Chavanel will be itching to get going... Whatever happens, at the finish we will know the names of those riders who can't win this Tour."
Our final day in Corsica awaits. Not a single meter of flat. That should be interesting. All sorts of questions today starting with whether or not Radio Shack will be able to defend the yellow jersey of yesterday's surprise winner, Jan Bakelants. The next question might be whether or not a break can stay away on this challenging course. Or will it be a day for Gilbert to win in his world champion's jersey?
Geraint Thomas, it turns out, is riding with a "small" pelvic fracture.
My Podium Cafe Stage Predictor picks of the day: Sagan, Gilbert, Chavanel and Boasson-Hagen.
Since Sky has made me very sad by not picking Bernie Eisel on their Tour team and this canceling Breakfast with Bernie, a tweet or two from him as he rides the Tour of Austria.
Today's breakaway: Sebastian Minard, Alexis Vuillermoz, Simon Clarke, Cyril Gautier and Liuwe Westra. With 101 kms to go, their gap was 3:50. Meanwhile, have a dog looking to travel France this summer?
Vaughters 5:34am via Twitter for iPhone
Wine: 2010 Abbatucci "Cuvée Faustine" $36.00 from Dig
From Kermit Lynch, the importer:
In the colorful, picturesque city of Ajaccio, capital of Corsica, you can’t get very far without seeing the name Abbatucci. There are streets, monuments and plazas that carry the name, which is normal given that General Jean-Charles Abbatucci from Ajaccio was a hero of the French Revolution and comrade in arms of another local hero, Napoléon Bonaparte. Step into a wine bar or a restaurant there, chances are these days they’ll pour you a glass of Domaine Abbatucci. The domaine is run by Jean-Charles Abbatucci, a direct descendant of the General, who has now become a local hero of another kind—for providing the local populace with its most sought-after libation.
Corsicans are proud defenders of their traditions and environment, and with Abbatucci they indulge guilt-free. His wines are certified biodynamic, and he believes in following even the most far-out biodynamic practices to the letter. On his large estate south of Ajaccio he keeps a pristine poly-culture ecosystem in place, complete with herds of sheep foraging through his vines, groves of olive trees on ancient terraces, and large swaths of untouched forests. His vines come from cuttings of indigenous grapes, sourced decades ago high up in the isolated and mountainous interior of the island from elderly peasant farmers, effectively saving several native varieties from extinction. To keep his vines happy, he’s known to drive his tractor out to his vineyards and play traditional Corsican polyphonic songs over loudspeakers for their benefit. After the harvest he’ll treat his cellar to the same music as his grapes ferment and come of age. All part of the terroir, he says. Does all this have an actual effect on the wine? Have a taste for yourself. The proof just might be in the pudding.
Thoughts from Dig: A DIG favorite, Abbatucci blend of two native varieties (70% Sciacarellu, 30% Niellucciu) into a wine that's elegantly wild, smelling of pomegranate, black olive, hillside herbs, tobacco leaf, and flint; flavors are light, fresh, sexy, earthy.
I say: Finishing the Corsican stages with a red. Two new grapes for me! I should have clued in given the use of elegantly wild above, but not nearly as rustic as I was expecting. Paired with a rabbit sausage that I worried might be overwhelmed by the wine. Instead, the sausage, made with pork, fresh fennel, olive and white wine, along with the rabbit, brought out the earthy and herbal notes in the wine. On day two it had opened up a little bit more and was showing cherries, herbs and pepper.