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

Thursday, 13 July 2017

2017 Tour de France: Kittel wins again in Pau, Stage 12 preview – showdown in Pyrénées?

 Marcel Kittel takes his 5th 2017 stage win 

 No change overall – Chris Froome still in Yellow

Green Jersey: Marcel Kittel consolidates lead – 
133 points ahead of Michael Matthews

If yesterday's flat stage again panned out largely as expected with a small break of three riders going away from the off and Marcel Kittel winning the sprint, the finish was made much more exciting than the previous flat stage due to the very brave and impressive ride by Macief Bodnar, who was only swept up by the sprinters with 200 metres to go before the line. 

Kittel again won comfortably – at present there is no-one to touch him.

Stage 12: Pau to Peyragudes 214.5 kms

You can be confident that this won't be Kittel's third successive stage win. Instead this long stage (214.5 kms) in the Pyrénées may give Fabio Aru, Romain Bardet and Rigoberto Uran to put some pressure on Chris Froome. Alternatively it might be an opportunity for Froome to distance his rivals a little more. Apart from the last short ramp up to Peyragudes, these climbs are not as steep as those that featured on Sunday's stage. However, the distance may well take its toll on some riders, especially those who like Bardet, Jakob Fulsang and Contador, who crashed during yesterday's stage. Unfortunately Fulsang has a couple of fractures in his hand.

I expect that unlike the two previous stages when there was no enthusiasm to get in the break, there will be many looking to get away. It may be many kilometres before a break is established. It is 100 kms before the 2nd Cat Col des Ares is reached, which only has an average gradient of 4.6%. I can see Michael Matthews trying to get away again to pick up Intermediate Sprint points but this may well not be easy as the first part of this stage is not difficult.

The forecast is for showers later on in the stage, which could again make the descents dangerous. Hopefully there won't be any serious crashes. It will also be relatively cool. 

Update: raining in Pau at the start. Sunny at the finish for the moment.       

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