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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

Sunday, 2 July 2017

2017 Tour de France: Geraint Thomas wins, Valverde crashes out + Stage 2 preview

Top 20 after Stage 1

Stage 2: Düsseldorf to Liège

Geraint Thomas (Sky) was a popular but surprise winner yesterday winning not just taking his first ever Tour de France stage but the Yellow Jersey. This ten years on from Thomas' first Tour start in London in 2007.   

Despite a very good ride in the 2017 Giro's TT when injured, Geraint Thomas was not listed amongst the favourites. The TV cameras didn't follow his ride so there is only a brief clip of Thomas crossing the finish line with the new fastest time, which none of the later riders, including local favourite Tony Martin could beat.   

It was unfortunate that rain throughout the spoiled Düsseldorf's big day as well as making the TT more dangerous and difficult as Alejandro Valverde and Ion Izaguirre found to their cost crashing out on a corner around halfway through the course.  

Yesterday Team SKY were the big winners with Thomas and three other riders including Chris Froome (+ 12 seconds) in the top eight on the stage and so also on General Classification. Froome put seconds into all of his rivals for the overall win. Simon Yates is 25 seconds behind Froome, Richie Porte (35), Nairo Quintana (36) plus the big loss of Valverde, Thibaut Pinot (38), Romain Bardet (39), Fabio Aru (40), Alberto Contador (42) and Bauke Mollema (1.06).

Stage 2: Düsseldorf to Liège (203.5 kms)
Widely expected to be a sprinters stage with just two category 4 climbs. The first very early on and the second 20 kilometres from the finish. Much of the longish stage is pretty flat getting a little bumpy as Liège approaches but not enough to upset the top sprinters.
Unfortunately the forecast is for light rain. Furthermore, the first few stages of the Tour de France are always nervous with the risk of crashes. Hopefully there won't be any serious crashes today.

A new time and important measure at the finish has just been introduced - splits on the finish will be taken as three minutes instead of just one. This means that the general classification riders can now hang back a little bit leaving more space to the sprinters and their lead-out trains, so hopefully fewer crashes in the last kilometre of a stage. 

Favourites for the first stage are sprinters: André Greipel, Peter Sagan, Arnaud Démare, Mark Cavendish, John Degenkolb, Michael Matthews, Nacer Bouhanni and
Alexander Kristoff. 

I'm going to opt for either Griepel or Kittel. It will be interesting to see how Cavendish goes after his illness. Difficult to count out Cav, even if not fully fit, as he does have a very good sprint team including Bernard Eisel, Mark Renshaw and Edward Boassen Hagen.   

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