From LeTour: Jean François Pescheux's view The first key test: "After eight days of racing, we reach the Pyrenees. The scene would be a familiar one if it wasn't for the start in Corsica and the consequences that is likely to have had. Where will the contenders be placed before taking on the very difficult Col de Pailhères, the first key test of this 100th Tour? No one can say for sure, even though it's a good bet there will already be some decent gaps between them going into this stage. My worry? That Wiggins, Froome and Porte finish one, two and three at the summit of Ax 3 Domaines, which wouldn't sit well with the glorious uncertainty of sport! But we will have to wait and see. In any case, the Spaniards will be ready. They are heading into their terrain..."
Up we go! Time for the first real climbing of the race. Today should start to give us some answers as to which riders are on form to win the Tour. I don't expect the Tour to be won today, but a pre-race favorite on a bad day could lose enough to be out of contention for the podium in Paris.
My Podium Cafe Stage Predictor picks of the day: Froome, Porte, Evans and Valverde. Clearly I am expecting the first shots in the GC battle.
Up before dawn again for this stage and the first thing I saw was a picture of Tony Martin's injuries. Yikes! Apparently it is also a very warm day:
No tv coverage of the early hours of the stage, so when they go live (on NBC rather than NBCSN today) 100 kilometers in, we have four riders: Johnny Hoogerland, Christophe Riblon, Jean-Marc Marino and Rudy Molard about 7:20 ahead of the peloton. None of the escapees are real podium threats, so they will most likely dangle for quite a while. Hoogerland, you may remember, was involved in an awful crash in 2011, involving a race car and a barbed wire fence. Also word of another abandonment: Matteo Bono. It has been rather flat so far, but there is a lot of climbing to come.
Wine: Clos Centeilles C de Centeilles 2010 from Franklywines $26.99
From the producer: In 1990, Patricia Boyer-Domergue took over the operation Clos Centeilles and in 2002, she became President of the Appellation "Minervois La Livinière."Le Clos Centeilles is located in the Languedoc-Roussillon (production in the South of France). The wines are, for the most part, AOC Minervois. The area of Clos Centeilles is 12 hectares, which gives a high-quality production of 60,000 bottles per year. The varieties of red wines are very different: Carignan, Mourvèdre, Piquepoul Black, Black Riveirenc, Syrah, Cinsault, Grenache and Pinot Black Black Fin. The average age of the vines is 40 years to 100 years for Carignan. No chemical fertilizers or fungicides are applied on the vines, which gives a very natural and authentic wine vinified for keeping wines (over 10 years).
There is a lot more information available on the producer website: http://www.closcenteilles.com/clos-centeilles-en.html
From the importer: C de Centeilles Blanc (Cotes du Brian) a white wine with energy and elegance to spare, from antique vines incuding Araignan blanc, Riveirenc blanc & gris, and Carignan gris... that transcends it's components while opening a new conversation - as a counterpoint to the traditionally great white wine regions of France.
From FranklyWines: Wacky old white grapes grown with love and care = a wild white with body and flavor and texture.
I say: Speaking of weird whites, this wine includes several grapes that I have not heard of before. The blend, as mentioned above includes: Araignan white, gray Riveirenc, white Riveirenc, plus a touch of Grenache Gris.
Quince and herbs, with a touch of both honey lemon. Concentrated, yet very fresh. Different and intriguing.