Friday’s stage brought the first real shake-up in the GC standings: Team Ineos faltered on the long, mountainous route, leaving top contender Egan Bernal to soldier on alone. Sure, he was in the same group with Primoz Roglic and Tadej Pogacar on the final climbs, but there were no teammates to help him to the top. As Team Jumbo-Visma stepped on the gas, the peloton fell apart, leaving riders gasping for breath off the back.
Bernal rode well, considering, but the day took a toll on him. I’m sure he will live to fight another day, but I can’t say the same about his team. They didn’t look too fresh in the Critérium du Dauphiné race immediately preceding the Tour, and their condition hasn’t improved. If Bernal is going to defend his overall yellow jersey, he’s going to have to do it alone. Praying to the cycling gods wouldn’t hurt.
French hopes Guillaume Martin and Romain Bardet (3rd and 4th at the start of the stage) cracked when Jumbo-Visma attacked. Bardet took a nasty tumble earlier in the day, which didn’t help his cause. Both are now out of the top ten GC contenders, adding one more year to the drought of French Tour de France victories. For the current standings, click here.
As for the stage victory itself, Colombian Danny Martinez of the EF Education team, poured his heart out onto the road, fending off Bora-Hansgrohe riders Lennard Kamna and Maximilian Schachmann to cross the summit finish first. Martinez won the Dauphiné when first-place Primoz Roglic crashed on the penultimate day and withdrew from the race and, so far, his Tour has been lackluster. Today’s win though, was one for the highlight reel. A note as you watch the final kilometer: you’re not seeing it in slow-motion. This is how friggin’ impossible the final climb was!
Will the Peloton Get a Break on Saturday?
No way. We’re now in the second half of the Tour, and it only gets harder from here. Saturday’s race includes five categorized climbs, with a sprint section quite early at 38 kilometers in. While I might predict a break-away to emerge on a stage like this, things are so tense in the GC competition that I doubt a group will be allowed to go free for long.
Climbers will be scavenging points throughout the day and, unless he amasses quite a few, current polka-dot jersey holder Benoit Cosnefroy might surrender it to Marc Hirschi, who’s been riding like a demon. Expect Team Jumbo-Visma to control the race, with Tadej Pogacar and Egan Bernal hanging on for dear life.
And don’t rule out the phalanx of Colombians right behind the top three in the standings: Rigoberto Uran, Nairo Quintana, and Miguel-Angel Lopez are hot on their heels and all three can climb mountains with the best of them. Let’s see who has the fitness, mental fortitude, and desire to reach for yellow.
Wines from the Côte Roannaise
While the race course isn’t far from well-known regions like Beaujolais and the Northern Rhône Valley, there is a smaller area of production that lies right along the Stage 14 route. The Côte Roannaise is relatively small (just 200 hectares) and specializes in a local adaptation of Gamay Noir called Saint Romain. Reds and rosés are made from the grape, usually via semi-carbonic maceration, as is common in Beaujolais. Most of the vineyards are planted along the Upper Loire River, on south- and southeastern-facing slopes of granite. The region was awarded AOC status in 1994, and most production is in the hands of independent vignerons.
The Wines of Domaine Sérol
This small estate in the eastern foothills of the Massif Central, has grown grapes since the 17th century. Stéphane and Carine Sérol took the reins in 1996, expanding the property’s footprint from 12 hectares of Gamay Saint Romain to 32, and shifting first to organic farming and then converting to biodynamics. The couple have recently added two hectares each of Viognier and Chenin Blanc. As a side project, they recently partnered with the Troisgros family to produce wine from a single vineyard called Les Blondins.
I was really happy to see a Viognier among their offerings because I am an unabashed fan of the grape. My goal is to track down a few of these wines here in the US – or better yet, plan a trip to France when we’re able to travel again. Doesn’t a trio of Gamay, Viognier, and Chenin Blanc sound like a good way to spend an afternoon?
For more information on the Côte Roannaise, please visit the official website.
See you tomorrow with a recap of today’s stage and a preview of Sunday’s action.