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, 9 July 2016

2016 Tour de France: great brave solo win by Steve Cummings + 'Circle of Death' awaits

Yesterday's stage was a treat because of Steve Cummings' brilliant solo attack and well deserved win along with Greg Van Avermaet's refusal to read the script and actually extend his lead to nearly six minutes over Adam Yates – now best placed Young Rider. 

I once rode the Col d'Aspin many years ago and it is more a steady climb than really steep, so it suited a powerful rider like Cummings. Interesting to see that Nibali couldn't make any impression on him and indeed in the second half of the climb Steve extended his lead over the chasers to over a minute. Unclear whether Nibali is riding this Tour for himself or actually to support Fabio Aru.... Will be interesting to see how Nibali goes today.    

The finish for the GC contenders was complicated because of the collapse of the one-kilometre-to-go inflatable banner. Apparently a spectator accidentally caught the plug and pulled it out, so the banner immediately started to deflate. Unfortunately it collapsed on top of Adam Yates, who had attacked at the top of the d'Aspin and gained a few seconds. Rightly the organisers credited Adam and moved him into second place and the Best Young Riders' Jersey.  

Of the GC contenders, only Thibaut Pinot lost significant time yesterday on the climb. He is at 9.12 on Avermaet, while the other GC contenders are at 5.57. 

Pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon – 'Circle of Death'

Pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon is one of the great classic stages of Le Tour. Today's stage is a variation on the classic route as this misses out the customary first col – d'Aubisque – and instead starts with the giant Col de Tourmalet (2115 m) and leaves out the western side of the Col d'Aspin, which is more gentle than the side they climbed yesterday. Instead the riders climb Hourquette d'Ancizan (2) and Col de Val Louron-Azet (1) before rejoining the classic route with the Col de Peyresourde and the descent into Bagnères-de-Luchon. Scottish climber Robert Millar is one of the past winners into Bagnères winning in 1983 ahead of Pedro Delgado, his fellow escapee and who he dropped on the Peyresourde.

In contrast to yesterday, today's stage should see a shake-up of the GC contenders and the end of Greg Van Avermaet's stay in Yellow.

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