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, 25 July 2016

2016 Tour de France – Griepel wins sprint - Froome joins the greats

André Griepel won the sprint in Paris, so he finally got a stage win in the 2016 edition. This is now back to back victories in Paris as Griepel won here last year. He has now ridden six TDFs and won at least a stage in each edition. Griepel now has 11 TDF stage victories – two more than Marcel Kittel. This makes him the second most successful current sprinter in the TDF after Mark Cavendish and his 30 wins. Griepel is now 34, which underlines that sprinters can continue to win well into their 30s.
Peter Sagan come very close to taking the victory yesterday with a late surge but needed a few more metres. You have to wonder whether, if Sagan hadn't done all that work for Romain Kreuzinger on Saturday's final Alpine stage, he might have won this sprint. Just shows how phenomenally strong Sagan is!

Marcel Kittel, my pick for yesterday's winner, had mechanical problems and curiously without a team mate to pace him back into the pack spent too much energy in returning to have any left for the sprint. He finished in 61st position. Still I did pick Griepel for second spot.    

With just one stage win – Limoges – this will have been a disappointing TDF for Kittel having missed last year due to injury. This appears to suggest that Etixx-Quickstep might be a graveyard for successful sprinters. Cav won only three TDF stages in his three seasons with with Omega Pharma–Quick-Step (now Etixx-Quickstep). Still impressive, especially as he crashed out of the 2014 TDF on Stage 1, but way down on his previous results. Kittel won four stages in both 2013 and 2014, so just one in 2016 due to the Cav's renaissance will hurt. Still at 28 he has time on his side.

Many congratulations to Chris Froome on winning his third Tour de France and joining the greats, who have won three TDFs or more. He joins five times winners Jacques Anquetil Bernard Hinault, Miguel Indurain and Eddy Merckx plus Lucien Bobet, Greg Lemond and Philippe Thys, who also won three editions.   

Of the GC contenders Froome was clearly the most aggressive taking the most risks as demonstrated by his descent of the Peyresoudre to take Yellow. In Sky, of course, Froome had a superb and very focused team.  

Apart from a brief try on the Ventoux Nairo Quintana's challenge never materialised. The exciting young rider of 2013, who attacked in the Pyrénées and on the Ventoux, now appears to be a distant memory. Sky's strength appeared to intimidate the other contenders and only Romain Bardet, Dan Martin, Bauke Mollema, Alejandro Valverde and Adam Yates made attacks. Unfortunately Yates's attack off the Col d'Aspin was nullified by the collapsing Flamme Rouge banner. This was the stage that Steve Cummings took with a typically, fine solo ride. It was good to see Bardet's brave attack  on Stage 19 bring him second place on the podium. Will he be able to test Froome more fully in 2017?

Other Jerseys
Congratulations to Peter Sagan on winning the Green Jersey by a mile for the 5th time. He also took two stage victories. In his second TDF Adam Yates impressed winning the White Jersey as the best young rider, while Rafa Majka took the Polka Dot climbers' jersey for the second time. 

Cav's Renaissance 
It was great to see Mark Cavendish back to best winning four stages including Stage 1 so getting the Yellow Jersey for the first time. He now has an amazing 30 TDF stage wins only four behind that of the great Eddy Merckx. Although nothing is even given in the Tour it must now be possible that Cav at 31 years old can match or even eclipse Eddy's record. 

In 24 year-old Dan McLay we have a new promising sprinter. He was placed in the 10 top on three stages in this year's Tour.      

UK's progression since 2007 
The 2007 Tour de France started in London with the Prologue. It was the first Tour that a young sprinter called Mark Cavendish rode. After a couple of top 10 placings and two crashes, Mark pulled out on Stage 8. Although there was a growing interest in cycling and the Tour attracted good crowds, no British rider had come close to winning the Tour and Barry Hoban held the stage wins total with 8.   

Who would have thought that nine years on that Mark Cavendish would have racked up 30 TDF stage wins and have won the Green Jersey in 2011, that British riders would have won four of the last five Tours – 2012 (Bradley Wiggins), 2013, 2015 and 2016 (all Chris Froome), and that Adam Yates would be the first UK rider to win the White Jersey. Remarkable!   

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