I know, even as I wrote that title I felt ridiculous.
After all, a time trial is a special type of bike racing, akin to sprinting but not quite the same thing. Think about the megawatts of power churned out by sprinters as they make a mad dash for the finish line; now imagine using that power more judiciously, say, over 36 kilometers, at a steady, unwavering pace.
That’s the key to mastering the time trial discipline: finding the sweet spot between pure speed and endurance, and pushing yourself to the limit. Few riders excel at it, and it’s often the Achilles heel of would-be GC contenders.
Race organizers have thrown a wrench into the traditional time trial this year. Instead of a relatively flat course, the route meanders up and down for about 30 kilometers, when it heads up the category 1 Planche des Belles Filles for the final six kilometers. With gradients approaching 9% at various points on the slope, this climb could cause some reshuffling in the standings of the top ten GC contenders.
Doesn’t it just seem cruel?
Perhaps so, but it will make the time trial more interesting to watch (no small feat; they’re usually a snore-fest.)
The polka dot jersey competition will be the most fun to watch: Richard Carapaz currently leads, with 74 points. But Pogacar (72 points) and Roglic (67 points) are nipping at his heels. Marc Hirschi, everyone’s new favorite rider, is within striking distance with 62 points.
I’m not entirely clear on how officials plan to award the climbing points on tomorrow’s stage. I believe they will take each rider’s time at a designated spot on the climb, with points awarded to the ones with the fastest time. We’ll see how that works out.
As for the green sprinters’ jersey, the competition will take a hiatus tomorrow, as there are no points on offer. We can look forward to the grand finale on Sunday, where all the sprinters will throw themselves into the mayhem, hoping to win the favor of the cycling gods. Will Sam Bennett prevail? To be continued . . .
2017 Domaine Ostertag Riesling Les Jardins (13% abv)
Domaine Ostertag lies in Alsace, along the Rhine River bordering Germany. After studying in Burgundy, winemaker André Ostertag returned to the family’s 14.4 hectares of vines and switched things up a little: he dramatically lowered yields and made the switch to biodynamic farming (certified in 1997.) He considers each of the domaine’s 88 plots a small garden, hence the name of this wine “Les Jardins.”
Ostertag brings an artist’s approach to winemaking (he spends his free time sculpting), eschewing conventional descriptors for his wines. Rather than defining them according to the appellation requirements, he groups them into categories such as Vins de Fruit (intended to show the primary fruit aromas and flavors); Vins de Pierre (wines that highlight specific terroirs); and Vins de Temps (reflective of weather conditions, especially those that foster noble rot).
This Riesling was an absolute pleasure to drink. A bit of petrol on the nose, mixed with lemon, lime, and grapefruit aromas; hints of ripe peach and nectarine and some wet rocks. On the palate, the high acidity was the perfect foil to the ripe, rich fruit. The wine had medium+ body and alcohol, and a long finish combining citrus, stone fruit, and slate.
We paired it with grilled shrimp coated in a fig, orange, and yuzu vinegar glaze. So damned delicious.
I can’t remember where I bought it, but I definitely want some more!
Wines from Alsace are widely available and come in a host of varieties – literally. Whether your favorite is Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, or even Pinot Noir, grab a bottle to sip as you watch the first-ever mountain time trial.
And get ready for Sunday. Spoiler alert: we’ll be sipping Champagne!