From LeTour: Jean François Pescheux's view
Five passes on the menu: "If you can say yesterday's stage could effectively be summed up, as far as the favourites are concerned, as a hill-climb decided on the final ascent, today's menu will have another flavour entirely? Firstly, it's a relatively short stage (165km). Next, it is extremely difficult, featuring no fewer than five passes. Our aim? To complicate the racing strategy and maintain the suspense? That's why there is a long and demanding 30km descent into the finish at Bagnères-de-Bigorre. We thought it might inspire the likes of Nibali or Evans to put together an interesting tactical plan in the hope of destabilising the likely dominance of the Sky Pro Cycling team."
Destabilizing the likely dominance of Sky indeed. Excellent prognostication from Pescheux. Well, yesterday was interesting indeed. Has Froome won the race? Many think so. On the other hand, there are many days left in the race and many opportunities for a bad day or other issue to change things. He was certainly impressive yesterday, with incredible support from Richie Porte and Peter Kennaugh.
If you are on twitter and would like some inside the race amusement, be sure to check out the back and forth between Greg Henderson, Adam Hansen and Andre Greipel.
My PodiumCafe Predictor picks of the day: Porte, Valverde, Evans and Anton.
Up at 4 a.m. to watch and I have already missed a lot. To summarize: chaos. Attacks started almost instantly and they were frequent.
From Podium Cafe: "I have no idea what's going on and who's where
Meanwhile, De Gendt is back with the front group. Bakelants reaching them as well. Behind:
mrconde 4:49am via Web
Seems like Geraint Thomas has blown the other group a part. Only 7-8 riders with him and Porte on their way back. 1:10 min. #tdf
Although I wish he was still riding, I'm enjoying the Christian VandeVede insight on twitter:
ChristianVDV 4:54am via Twitter for iPad
Wine: Domaine Bru-Bache 2010 Jurancon
from Kermit Lynch: In a tiny stone cellar in the mountain town of Monein, Claude Loustalot continues the tradition first started by his charming uncle, founder Georges Bru-Baché. Although the Bru-Baché-Loustalot clan has been making wine in the Pyrénées since the 1960s, it was not until 1973 that they first began to bottle under their own label. Like many smaller wine regions that were decimated by phylloxera from the late nineteenth century to the early twentieth, Jurançon was one of the first to receive A.O.C. status, but has been very slow to recover its production. Since taking over the family domaine in 1994, Claude Loustalot has been bringing pride back to the Jurançon appellation and has taken steps to restore these specialized wines to their former glory.
Claude farms ten hectares of terraced vineyards along steep slopes surrounded by breathtaking views of the snow-capped mountains that crown the Basque country. The majority of his holdings are planted to the indigenous varietals, Gros Manseng and Petit Manseng, the former producing a dry, crisp white genetically linked to the Albariño of Spain, and the latter producing an exquisite sweet wine. Claude has implemented biodynamic viticultural practices in the vineyards since 2006 (receiving certification in 2009), which has helped him achieve both purity of expression in his grapes as well as a completely interdependent ecosystem virtually right out of his front door, where sheep graze between vineyard rows. In his garage, he can often be seen blending herbal teas (or tisanes) like Domaine Arretxea, creating his own natural remedies for the vines.
Claude bottles six spectacular cuvées. In his bottlings of Gros Manseng, Claude plays with both tank and wood-aging. Laden with citrus notes and stony minerals (from the schist and limestone soils), these cuvées have terrific complexity for wines so refreshing and easy-to-enjoy. His Petit Manseng bottlings are simply divine. Through the process of passerillage, the grapes achieve an intense raisin-like ripeness by extended hang time on the vines. Their thick skins retain the sugars while preventing rot. They are harvested successively in November and December, concentrated and ready to press. Claude has carried the torch with such success that even the impartial reference manual, The Oxford Companion to Wine, continues to recognize the domaine’s Jurançons as among the best in the appellation.
• Same blend as the sec (100% gros manseng) but it is harvested later using passerillage method
• Aged for six months is stainless steel cuves
• Darker color, more of a moelleux in style, but with mouthwatering acidity. Much less concentrated than all of his petit manseng wines. This is the classic, textbook example of Jurançon.
I say: Always hard to find wines from this area. There have been many years I have visited 5+ stores, as K will complain, in search of wines from the Pyrenees. So a special thank you to Raphael Knapp, the importer of Return to Terroir, for the Jurancon suggestion. The wine today is not his, but do check out his portfolio here.
As for the wine: Deep, golden yellow. Honeyed yellow peaches with some acid on the finish.