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, 5 July 2012

2012 Tour de France: Rouen to Saint-Quentin: flat stage to be overshadowed by Lance Armstrong news

Today's 196.5 kilometre flat stage from Rouen to Saint-Quentin should provide Mark Cavendish an opportunity to make up for the possible stage win he missed in Rouen yesterday due to the mass crash within the last three kilometres. There are no classified climbs. It looks like the finish is slightly uphill rising 28 metres over the last kilometre with the last corner 1300 metres from the finishing line. There should be no change to the overall standing, although the weather might play a part with thundery showers forecast accompanied by gusts up to 65K.

The stage will surely be overshadowed by the breaking news naming the six people who have testified against Lance Armstrong. This includes four of Armstrong's former team mates: George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie. The four are reported to have confessed to doping and will be banned from racing for six months from the start of the 2013 season. This means that they can continue riding the Tour de France. They had apparently recently withdrawn from the Olympics. Jonathan Vaughters, current manager of Garmin-Sharp, is also said to have testified against Armstrong. The story was broken by De Telegraaf. If correct the fact that Hincapie and Leipheimer have testified against Armstrong looks decidedly damaging, although Armstrong's lawyers are likely to point to the delayed six months suspensions.  

Hincapie, who is competing in his 17th Tour de France, is currently riding in support of Cadel Evans, last year's Tour winner. 

Jonathan Vaughters has denied on Twitter that any of his riders – Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie now ride for Garmin – have been given a six month suspension. See also. Hincapie is reported to have declined to comment. Cyclingnews now has a comment by Travis Tygart, head of the USADA, here, while Lance Armstrong's reaction is here. Interesting and thought-provoking article – Lance Armstrong: the end by Edward Pickering in Cycle Sport online here. Interesting to see which parts of the story are being denied and which parts aren't and by whom!  

Update@14.45: Mark Cavendish wins the bunch intermediate sprint picking up 11 points after the four breakaways had taken the major spoils. Peter Sagan added another 8 points. Hope we get a sprint at the end without crashes today.     


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