Stage 3: Antwerp to Mur de Huy

Brabo Statue Antwerp Grote Markt Night
Antwerp, Belgium

Onward to Belgium!

The Tour moves from the Netherlands to Belgium on Monday, with the riders anticipating a stage that offers something for everyone.  With the first two days favoring sprinters and time trial specialists, day three finally gives the climbers a reason to cheer.  Clustered toward the end of the stage, there are four categorized climbs, including the final 1.3 km straight up the Mûr de Huy.  Climbs in the Tour are ranked according to steepness and difficulty on a scale of 1 to 4, with Cat 1 being the highest and most challenging.  And then there are the climbs known as HC (hors catégorie in French) which means they are so monstrous that they defy categorization!  Stage Three features three Cat 4 climbs and a sprint stage before ramping upward for the final Cat 3 climb to the finish line.

My Pick to Win the Stage:  Alberto Contador and his team looked strong in the horrible conditions that clouded Stage Two.  He’s an awesome climber and this could be a chance for him to gain some time on the other GC contenders.

My Pick to Earn the Yellow Jersey:  Alberto Contador.  Team Tinkoff-Saxo looked formidable on day two, and might give him an opportunity to launch an attack on the final climb.


Wine in Belgium
Belgium is much more famous (and rightfully so) for its beer and chocolate than it is for its wine.  That said, Belgium is full of wine aficionados, with Bordeaux a particular favorite.  Small-scale wine industry does exist, but most of the production is consumed locally – probably the legacy of winemakers in Charlemagne’s time, whose production was dedicated entirely to local monasteries and which continued until military incursions interrupted agricultural endeavors in the area.  Today most wine is white, with the best examples derived from varieties like Chardonnay and Muller-Thurgau.

grapes and a glass of wineTDF BTG Recommendation
It will be as difficult to find a Belgian wine as it was to find one from Holland.  You can’t go wrong with a Belgian beer but, since this is a wine page, let’s find another option.  The closest, major wine-producing area to Belgium is the Mosel in Germany, where plantings of Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris), Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc), and Riesling dominate the landscape.  Here are two Rieslings made by the same producer but in two very different styles: one is crisp and clean, the other a little more lush and full-bodied.  Compare them and see what you think.  And, as always, ask your local wine merchant to weigh in with his or her suggestions – you’ll be in for a treat.  Enjoy – and Vive le Tour!

Dr. Heidemann’s Dry Riesling – ($14.99)
Dr. Heidemann’s Bernkastel Auslese – ($17.99)