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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

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

2017 Tour de France; Sagan wins Stage 3; Stage 4 another snoozefest preview

 Stage 3: top 10
Peter Sagan wins

Stage 3 Overall 
Geraint Thomas retains the Yellow Jersey

Despite pulling a foot out of his pedal within sight of the line Peter Sagan won the gallop up the Côte des Religieuses closely chased by Michael Matthews, Dan Martin and Greg van Avermaet. This brings Peter Sagan's tally of Tour stage wins is now up to eight.

As I suspected the Côte proved to be too steep for the pure sprinters with the exception of Arnaud Demarre, who came in with most of the overall contenders at two seconds down. Only Simon Yates dropped time on his overall rivals coming in 10 seconds down so losing 8 seconds on Thomas, Froome, Quintana etc.

Geraint Thomas retained the Yellow Jersey with Chris Froome now in second as the other riders in front of him have dropped down the order. In contrast Dan Martin picked six seconds on his overall rivals. 

Unfortunately there was little to get excited about this stage. The breakaway was established quite early. Within the break there was a bit of a tussle of the King of the Mountains, which Tour debutant Nathan Brown won. The break rarely got than an advantage of two minutes. Another debutant Lilian Calmejane was the last breakaway to be caught and certainly impressed.   

It was only in the last 20 kilometres of the race that things really came exciting, although it had started to get stressful for the riders before that. 

Stage 4 Preview: Mondorf-les-Bains to Vittel 207.5 kms 
This I fear will be another long stage snoozefest until the last 20 kms or so when the sprinters' teams start jousting for position. This is a largely flat stage with one Category 4 climb about 40 kms from the finish. I expect an early break to get away only to be swallowed up by the peloton towards the end of the stage.

The finish is slightly uphill but not enough to trouble the sprinters, though it may give a slight advantage to Sagan. Otherwise it is the usual sprinters who are favourite to take the win – Marcel Kittel, Arnaud Demarre, who is going well, André Griepel and possibly Mark Cavendish, who seems to be going well despite his illness this year.         

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