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

Saturday, 21 July 2012

2012 Tour de France: Time Trial – Bonneval to Chartres

Flat profile of 19th stage across the Beauce

Apart from the sprint on the Champs Élysées in Paris tomorrow, this is the last serious stage and then only likely to be serious for the leading riders. The route is an arc through the Beauce, the flat, grain growing area to the south of Paris, from Bonneval to the Chartres with its landmark cathedral. The route passes through Illiers Combray, where French writer Marcel Proust spent many a childhood holiday. Memories that were later used in his À la recherche du temps perdu (In search of lost time).

Riders wanting to maintain or improve their overall standing will edit Proust's title to In search of gaining time. The course is virtually dead flat so will suit time trial specialists like Bradley Wiggins. The only potential difficulty is the wind but the forecast is for a light wind (10K) from the north west, so this should be behind the riders for most of the course with only the first kilometres possibly into it – perhaps as far as Illiers-Combray. It shouldn't be much of an inconvenience. 

I expect Bradley Wiggins to win the stage, especially if his form is anything like what it was in the first time trial. He looked pretty spritely leading out Mark Cavendish yesterday. Fabian Cancellara and Tony Martin, who would have provide opposition, are no longer in the race. I also expect Chris Froome to take second place with perhaps Tejay Van Garderen in third.  

Wiggins appears from his Guardian column to be determined to finish the Tour strongly and will want to show that he is the strongest rider.   

'As it is now, I should be able to go out with no fear, nothing riding on the race other than my personal need to put a good performance together. It's not as if I'm looking to make up time on someone to win the yellow jersey or as if I need worry about losing time. I've done it hundreds of times: the pre-time-trial meal, the warm-up, pulling on the skinsuit, rolling down the start ramp. So I want to enjoy it, and try to finish the job off in style.'

I think there will be few changes in the leading places. Vincenzo Nibali is over three minutes ahead of Jurgen Van den Broeck.The latter will have to make sure he does a decent ride, otherwise Van Garderen might overtake him. It will be a major surprise if Nibali does not lose time to Froome, who was around 1.30 faster than Nibali in the Besançon trial. Janez Brajkovic (9th) may overtake Pierre Rolland and Haimar Zubeldia and Thibaut Pinot will have to fight off the threat to his 10th place by Nicolas Roche and, possibly, Andréas Klöden.     

Starting time here. First rider off is Jimmy Engoulvent at 12.00 (CET). Bradley Wiggins will be last off at 16.33. As La Lanterne Rouge, Engoulvent will have to make sure he doesn't go 45 seconds faster than the second to last rider, Jan Ghyselinck, otherwise he will lose his last place. Jimmy is 3 hours 49 minutes and 9 seconds behind Wiggins. 
Keep up with riders' times here

News flash 13.00 (BST): Despite a valiant try from Tyler Farrar to grab back the Lanterne Rouge spot by finishing 2.20 mins behind Jimmy Engoulvent, the time gap was not big enough to take the honour away from Jimmy. 

Despite the forecast there is apparently a headwind on the course.

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