Sunday takes the peloton back to the nasty climbs of the Pyrénées, giving us two summit finishes in a row. And based on what went down during Saturday’s race (including a few cows meandering onto the course) we have no idea what’s going to happen!
Here’s a quick recap to refresh your memory:
I watched the last 10 kilometers quite literally on the edge of my seat. Questionable tactics by Team Movistar on the final ascent blew up the peloton, causing quite a few GC contenders to drop back. Oh, and one of those riders was the team’s own Nairo Quintana, purportedly the leader and overall yellow jersey hope.
Then there were the solo efforts by Frenchmen Warren Barguil and Thibaut Pinot, who inflicted even more pain on the remaining riders. Last year’s winner, Geraint Thomas of Team Ineos was one of the guys thrown for a loop. Julian Alaphilippe, currently in yellow, continued to tough it out, staying with the group to the top.
By the end, when Alaphilippe crossed the finish line just after Pinot, I was jumping up and down, clapping and cheering in my living room. He stayed in the yellow jersey AND increased his lead over Geraint Thomas to about two minutes.
How can we not consider him a candidate to win it all?
What to Expect from Stage 15
Sunday’s race will be rather long and very lumpy: four categorized climbs, including the final ascent of the Prat d’Albis, topping out at almost 4,000 feet. It will be brutal on already-tired legs, making me wonder who will have the juice to make it there first. Should make for great viewing!
I’m betting on one of the riders from Jumbo-Visma to take the stage win. During stage 14 they had three men in what remained of the peloton as it climbed the Col du Tourmalet. George Bennett, Steven Kruijswijk, and Laurens de Plus might give a repeat performance today.
And, yes, I predict that Alaphilippe will stay in yellow.
Tour de France by the Glass Recommendation – Crémant de Limoux
Limoux is well-known as a center for sparkling wine production, especially the Blanquette de Limoux crafted from the Mauzac grape. In fact, locals claim that bubbly wines were made here long before they were “discovered” by Champagne.
The Crémant de Limoux appellation was approved in 1990 and amended in 2017 to include directives on which grapes may be planted and in what proportions, as well as the blending recipes for the wines themselves. With respect to plantings, there must be at least 50% Chardonnay, 10-40% Chenin Blanc, less than 30% Pinot Noir, and no more than 20% Mauzac.
Blends for white Crémant de Limoux must be 60-90% Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc, with at least 30% Chardonnay and 10% Chenin Blanc. Mauzac and Pinot Noir together may not make up more than 40% of the blend, with Mauzac restricted to no more than 20%. Rose Crémant de Limoux must have at least 15% Pinot Noir in the blend.
Côté Mas Crémant de Limoux Rosé Brut St. Hilaire (about $15 retail)
Driven by a philosophy he calls Luxe Rural, Jean-Claude Mas crafts his wines with an eye toward appreciating life’s simple pleasures: those which Nature provides unbidden; things we need to slow down to experience in full. All of the wines from this property fit that description effortlessly. They’re wines for sitting on the back porch in August, listening to the crickets and watching the fireflies. Or for sharing with an old friend as you reminisce about secrets of old.
A blend of Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and Pinot Noir, this is a pale pink sparkling wine from Limoux, the birthplace of bubbles in France. It is part of the larger Occitanie region on the southwest Mediterranean coast, just at the base of the Pyrénées Mountains. Made via the same method used to produce Champagne, this wine is a feast for the eyes, nose, and mouth. A stunner!
It’s pale pink with a fragrant nose of berries and white peaches that gives way to crisp raspberry and lemon-peel on the palate. I can’t think of a more enjoyable way to celebrate a holiday – or a Tour de France win – than with a glass of this overachieving rosé sparkler.
If for some reason you’re not in the mood for bubbles, try a bottle of the Côté Mas Rosé Aurore, a still wine. It’s great value at about $11 for a full liter of wine. Perfect for your summer party or happy hour.
Monday is a rest day for the riders but I will be back to prepare you for the stage on Tuesday. We’re heading east again, where the Alps await. It’s going to be an exciting final week of racing!
Vive Le Tour!