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

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

#TDF2015: start of the mountain showdown

Profile of the last climb: La Pierre-Saint-Martin

The first part of the 2015 Tour is over. During the first nine stages you could lose the Tour but not win it. The remaining days will decide who the winner will be.  Of the remaining 12 stages seven are in the mountains and all the rest, part from Stage 21 into Paris, are lumpy. It's going to be a very gruelling time for the riders from now to the end of the penultimate stage on 25th July. 

Today is the first of three days in the Pyrennées. On paper only the climb up La Pierre-Saint-Martin is tough but a sudden steep climb of 15.3 kilometres will surely find one or two of the favourites and outsiders out. The first mountain stage has often been a crucial pointer to the overall winner.  This is the first time
La Pierre-Saint-Martin has been used as a Tour mountain top finish.

I suspect that Sky will ride hard before and up the climb seeking to distance some of Chris Froome's rivals. Today will be important for Vincenzo Nibali, even though there are plenty of mountain stages to come, he surely cannot afford to lose more time, especially if it is a significant gap. Will Chris Froome again prove to be strongest or will Nairo Quintana start to pull back the nearly two minutes he has lost? What of Tejay Van Garderen, Alberto Contador, Alejandro Valverde and Rigoberto Uran? Or could there be a French surprise as today is the 14th July – Bastille Day....

The intermediate sprint comes after the first of two Category 4 climbs, so all the contestants for the Green Jersey should still be there. Can André Griepel snatch back the Green, which Peter Sagan now leads by just three points? Also given the succession of tough mountain stages, how many sprinters will be able to make it to Paris to compete in this year's final sprint on the Champs Elysée?   

Sad news that Ivan Basso had to withdraw yesterday from this year's race diagnosed with testicular cancer.  

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