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

Saturday, 7 July 2012

2012 Tour de France: into the hills after the carnage on the road to Metz

After the succession of crashes on the flat stages, I suspect that the overall favourites, those who had managed to stay intact will be greatly relieved to tackle the Tour's first hilly stage – the 199K from Tomblaine to La Planche des Belles Filles. The stage has three categorised climbs: the Col de Grosse Pierre (a 3k Cat 3 ascent), Col du Mont de Fourche (a 3k Cat 3 ascent) and then the real ascent of the day: La Planche des Belles Filles. 

La Planche is a steep 5.9 Category 1 with a succession of ramps with a gradient briefly as high as 20% just before the top of the climb. With the stage finishing at the top of the climb this is the first real showdown between Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans and the other favourites. With the succession of changes in gradient it is thought to suit Evans rather more than Wiggins. Trusting that there are no more big crashes I expect all the favourites to be together for the climb of La Panche des Belles Filles.   

Overall Fabian Cancellara should lose his Yellow Jersey but to whom? Bradley Wiggins? Cadel Evans? Sylvain Chavanel?

Fine report here from Blazin' Saddles on yesterday's stage and crashes.

Update on the abandons:
Following yesterday's crashes the following 12 are out: Mikel Astarloza, Tom Danielson, Hubert Dupont (broken arm), Imanol Erviti, Oscar Freire, Ivan Gutiérrez, Ryder Hesjedal, Robbie Hunter, Wout Poels (three cracked ribs and other injuries), Amets Txurruka, Davide Vignano and Martin Wynants. 

Make that 13 abandons as Anthony Delaplace has now given up the unequal struggle at the 44K mark with a broken wrist. There are now 181 riders left from 198, who started a week ago in Liège.   

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