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

Thursday, 11 July 2013

#TDF13 Great TT victory by Tony Martin – big gains by Chris Froome

Tony Martin deservedly won the time trial to Mont Saint Michel yesterday. Having crashed badly on the first stage of the Tour, Martin has been suffering from his substantial wounds. With the exception of Chris Froome he beat all of the other riders by over a minute. This win takes Tony Martin's overall total of stage wins to two – see here

Chris Froome nearly beat Martin eventually losing out by 12 seconds having been narrowly up on Tony at the two intermediate time check points. I fancy Chris might even been disappointed if he had beaten Martin given the latter's misfortune with his crash. However, importantly Froome gained substantial chunks of time on all of his rivals for overall victory. He now leads Alejandro Valverde by 3.25 mins, Bauke Mollema (3.37) and Alberto Contador (3.54). Cadel Evans is now in 14th place 6.54 minutes behind Froome with Andy Schleck at 8.32. 

The time trial showed that Froome is easily the best time trialist amongst the general contenders and that Contador is far from the the level he was in 2009. Nor is Cadel Evans at the same level as he used to be, while Andy Schleck continues to perform badly at this discipline – 4.44 behind Martin yesterday.

Overall standings
 1. Chris Froome                         42.29.24
 2. Alejandro Valverde               + 3.25
 3. Bauke Mollema                        3.37
 4. Alberto Contador                     3.54
 5. Roman Kreuziger                     3.57
 6. Laurens Ten Dam                     4.10
 7. Michal Kwiatkowski          4.44 (White Jersey for best young rider)
 8. Nairo Quintana                        5.18
 9. Rui Faria da Costa                    5.37
10. Jean-Christophe Peraud           5.39 (the leading French rider)
11. Joaquin Rodriguez                   5.48
12. Jacob Fulsang                         5.48
13. Daniel Martin                          5.52
14. Cadel Evans                           6.54
15. Mikel Nieve                            8.04
16. Michael Rogers                       8.28
17. Andy Schleck                         8.32
18. Daniel Moreno                        9.34
19. Maxime Monfort                    10.16
20. Igor Anton Hernandez           10.48

Sadly some idiot doused Mark Cavendish with urine during the time trial. Mark has an opportunity today to make a response to this very regrettable incident with a win in the likely sprint in Tours. He will, however, have strong opposition from André Griepel and Marcel Kittel. Perhaps the Omega Pharma Quickstep train will work properly today. 

The next likely GC stage will be on Sunday with the ascent of Mont Ventoux. Unless Froome has a disastrous day in the mountains he only has four realistic challengers at the moment – Valverde, Mollema, Contador and Kreuziger. After Ventoux there will remain four crucial stages – next Wednesday's hilly time trial where Froome is likely to gain more time on at least some of his rivals – then the double ascent of the Alpe d'Huez, the longish mountain stage to Le Grand Bornand and the final short stage that finishes on top of the HC Annency-Semnoz.     

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