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, 3 July 2017

2017 Tour de France: Marcel Kittel wins + Stage 3 preview

Stage result

  Marcel Kittel wins in Liège, Arnaud Demarre 2nd, 
André Griepel 3rd, Mark Cavendish 4th  

Overall standings 

Geraint Thomas retains Yellow Jersey, Kittel up to 3rd

Marcel Kittel won the close and massed bunch sprint in Liège, although the day's two breakaways nearly made it to the line. They were swallowed up just over one kilometre from the finish. After his illness Mark Cavendish must be pretty satisfied with his fourth place. He had latched onto Marcel Kittel's wheel but didn't have the pace nor really the space to come through. Kittel moved up to 3rd overall. He now has 10 TDF stage wins to his name just one behind André Griepel. 

As I mentioned in my preview of Stage 2 there is always a danger of crashes in the early stages of the Tour. Unfortunately Chris Froome and Romain Bardet were involved in a pile up about 30 kilometres from the finish. Both managed to get back onto the peloton and there were no serious injuries. 

Early on in the stage Luke Durbridge was forced to abandon following injury sustained from crashing during Saturday's Time Trial. He had hoped to ride through today but his proved impossible. 

Côte des Religieuses 1.6 kms @ 5.8%
The final climb

Stage 3 preview: Verviers to Longwy  212.5 kilometres 
Today's stage will be another longish day in the saddle. Starting in Belgium going into Luxembourg before finishing in France this is will be a decidedly lumpy stage with very little flat. Instead continuously up and down – three 4th category climbs and two 3rd category that includes the last 1.6 kms.

After the TT this finish will be a test for the overall contenders not to lose time on the sharp final climb. The steepest section (11%) is lower down, while at the top it flattens out. 

This would have suited Valverde but he is out after his crash in the TT. Contenders for the stage include Philippe Gilbert, Peter Sagan, Greg Van Avermaet, Dan Martin and Edvard Boassen Hagen as well as the overall contenders. Chris Froome has shown good form on these types of finish. Nor can you discount Richie Porte. Overall contenders are unlikely to lose any significant time but gaining a few seconds is always good for morale. 

With an uphill finish splits on the line are back to one second.  

It seems unlikely that Marcel Kittel and other straight out sprinters will be in contention at this finish, so little chance of Kittel adding to his 10 bonus seconds gained yesterday to take the Yellow Jersey from Geraint Thomas. 

It is just possible that rather than a procession to the final hill that some riders will look to shake up the race over the lumpy terrain. Let's hope so!       

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