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

Monday, 2 July 2012

2012 Tour de France: Stage 2: Visé - Tournai: a must for the sprinters

2010: Tour banner in Pauillac 

Today the Tour traverses much of Belgium heading west from Visé to Tournai towards France. Apart from a Category 4 climb at 82 kilometres, it is a flat stage (207 km) that the sprinters will be determined should end in a bunch sprint as tomorrow's lumpy finish around the hills of Boulogne certainly won't suit the pure sprinters. 

In previous years I would have had Mark Cavendish as the big favourite for such stage. However, he currently appears not to be as fast as previously having lost a little weight in preparation for the Olympics. He recently won the Ster ZLM Toer GP Jan van Heeswijk his first overall stage race win but didn't win any of the individual stages. Also he is no longer in a team that is dedicated to him as HTTC was. Now Sky's priority must be Bradley Wiggins winning the race overall. Equally Mark has won stages without the assistance of a train in the past through his speed, positioning and bike handling. 

If not Cavendish then there are a number of candidates including André Griepel, Tyler Farrar, Matthew Goss, Mark Renshaw (previously Mark Cavendish's brilliant lead out man), yesterday's winner Peter Sagan and Marcel Kittel. 

The forecast for Tournai this afternoon is cloudy and around 20˚C when the race arrives. 

The good news is that Tony Martin has not been forced to abandon the Tour with a broken collarbone. Instead he has broken his wrist and it is reported that he will try to continue at least until Stage 9 – the first time trial stage on Monday 9th July. A tough call as any stage with a broken wrist will be difficult and painful but tomorrow's tough finish and the mountain stages 7 in the Vosges and 8 in the Jura before the time trial will surely be very difficult. Martin's team mate Jérôme Pineau will also start after being brought down 25 km from yesterday's finish by an amateur photographer, who very foolishly stepped on to the road to get a pic. Sadly far from the first time this has happened! 

Overall, provided there aren't any big crashes that split the field and the favourites stay out of trouble, there shouldn't be any change with Cancellara keeping the Yellow Jersey. Certainly hoping that today will be crash free!


Luc Charlier said...

So, not only do Tour physicians lack any conscience, they also lack medical competence !
What is the similarity between a collar bone fracture and a broken wrist ?
It is about level with thinking poor Tom Simpson just drank too much of the offered Brandy on the slopes of the Ventoux, way back in 1967. I still remember.
Shame, say I, shame.
You see, my good horse is still grazing.

Jim Budd said...

Luc. Thanks – let the horse graze to its heart's content just don't take it out for a canter.

As far as I know it was journalists who announced that Tony Martin had broken his collar bone not the doctors in the Liège hospital. As you know a broken collar bone is a common cycle racing injury.



Jim Budd said...

Luc: 'Tour physicians'. Tony Martin was examined in a Liège hospital.

My advice is to make sure your horse eats grass not thistles!