Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

2012 Tour de France: Mâcon to Bellegarde-sur-Valserine

Today's stage in the Jura mountains is the first real mountain stage in this year's Tour and features its first Hors Category climb – the Col du Grand Colombier. The Grand Colombier, which hasn't been used in the Tour before, is a climb of 17.4 kilometres with an average gradient of 7.1% but has some much steeper ramps. Although the top at 1501 metres is not that high compared to some of the high Alps, the climb starts at a low level – 256 metres. 

From the top of the Colombier (43K from the finish) there is a steep descent before another climb – the Col de Richemond (3rd Cat) and a further steep descent down to Bellegarde. However, the finish is uphill rising some 90 metres over the last 3K.

More details of today's stage here. Also a drive up a large part of the col here (scroll down and click on La montée video).

If Cadel Evans, Vincenzo Nibali and Denis Menchov want to get some of the time they have lost to Bradley Wiggins they will surely have to attack today and on tomorrow's very tough but short stage in the Alps. Friday's stage does include two Alpine climbs but they come at the beginning of the stage, so they are a less obvious opportunity. Although the Col du Grand Colombier hasn't been in the Tour before, it was in this year's Dauphiné so Wiggins, Evans, Nibali and others will already be familiar with this long, narrow climb. 

It's going to be a tough day!    

As expected Tony Martin abandoned the Tour after the time trial – he injured his hand on the first stage in a crash. Matthew Lloyd has also abandoned following injuries from a crash on Stage 8 and Rémy Di Gregorio is being questioned by police in Marseilles and has been suspended by his Cofidis team

Other news 
Lance Armstrong has refiled his complaint against the USADA. The original 80 pages has been whittled down to 25 after federal judge Sam Sparks threw out the original submission as being too long.  

Interesting, if rather wordy, article here on riders' power output during mountain stages as well as thoughts on Wiggins' outburst at Sunday's press conference. It highlights that the mountains in the Tour are now being climbed more slowly than they were five ten years ago.    

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