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

Friday, 8 July 2016

2016 Tour de France: Mark Cavendish wins 29th – the Pyrénées loom

Another amazing win for Mark Cavendish in Montauban, the third of this year and his 29th Tour de France stage win just a breathtaking achievement. Once again Mark won through a combination of his speed and tactical nous – knowing just where to be and whose wheels to follow – doing this in Montauban without his lead-out men. 

This latest win moves Mark into second place on the overall list of stage winners of the Tour de France – a list that starts with the first edition of this great race in 1903. Now on 29 wins, Cav moves one ahead of the great Bernard Hinault, the last Frenchman to win the Tour in 1985. He is now five stage wins away from matching the legendary Eddy Merckx. 

At the end of the 2015 Tour, when Cav won just one stage, it looked as though he might never threaten to catch Eddy Merckx's total. However, this year's work on the track for the Rio Olympics and moving to a new team – Dimension Data – has seen a return to Cav's old dominance taking three stage wins in the first week – a feat he has never managed before.   

Mark won his first Tour de France stage win in 2008 in Châteauroux and went on to win three more that year. 

The 29 stage wins: 2008 – 4, 2009 – 6, 2010 – 5, 2011 – 5, 2012 – 3, 2013 – 2, 2014 – crashed out 1st stage, 2015 – 1, 2016 – 3 to date.   

Mark now has a chance to equal or even surpass Merckx. But even winning a stage on the Tour is a remarkable achievement, so winning another five to reach Eddy's total of 34 will not be easy. This is underlined by looking at the riders who have five stage wins to their name including Chris Froome, Sean Kelly and Tony Martin.           


Greg Van Avermaet enjoyed a trouble-free day on his first day in the Yellow Jersey and there were no changes overall.  

Stage 7: L'Isle-Jourdan – Luc de Payrolle 162.5k

Today is the first of three days in the Pyrénées and with only one major climb – Col d'Aspin – it should be the easiest. Saturday and Sunday's stages will surely be very tough. I fancy Greg Van Avermaet may still be in Yellow tonight but will lose a chunk of his over 5 minute lead. 

Will Moviestar attempt to soften up the other GC contenders on the approach and up the Col d'Aspin? What will the tactics of Sky be and how will the chances of France's promising clutch of young riders look after today's stage? Will Alberto Contador lose more time today. If he does lose time his chances of winning this Tour, already slim, will surely disappear. 

I expect some shake-up to the overall lead but anticipate that Saturday and Sunday's stages will be the ones that really show the handful of real contenders for victory this year. 

Until now all the 2016 stage winners – Mark Cavendish, Peter Sagan, Marcel Kittel and Gre Van Avermaet – have all won stages on previous TDFs, will there be a first time stage winner today? 

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