Saturday, July 19, 2008

Savoring Le Tour

Earlier this year, I dreamed up the idea of writing a daily wine and/or spirits post that would follow the daily path of the Tour de France. Those good intentions never came to fruition, as the time necessary to map out the course and lay out the plans for what to cover seemed to elude me. Maybe next year…. Until then, one of the fringe benefits to following the tour, aside from the drama of racing, remains watching the race caravan course through the French countryside, much of it through wine country. In spite of the undesirable melodrama of the sport’s continuing problems with doping, simply watching the race provides one of the sporting world’s greatest spectacles.

Yesterday's stage passed near the Pont du Gard, on the outskirts of Nîmes, while today's route takes the racers not far from the stark beauty of Les Baux.

Now at its midpoint, this year’s edition of Le Tour is currently smack-dab in the heart of the southern French vignoble. Yesterday’s Stage 13 snaked through the Gard and Hérault to its finish in Nîmes, while today’s leg runs through St. Rémy de Provence on its rolling route through the countryside toward the foothills of the French Alps.

Mark Cavendish, the young sprinter from the Isle of Man who rides for Team Columbia, has been the revelation of this year's Tour. He took yesterday's stage, his fourth stage win (so far), coming out of a boxed-in position to win in the clear. His explosive jump and pure high-end speed are clearly making him the sprinter of the moment. (Image copyright and courtesy of AFP Photo.)

Cooking up ideas for the blog can be fun but my real dream, in this context, remains actually going to the Tour, riding parts of the course, and watching the mountain stages, or perhaps the finish in Paris, in situ. Until then, I'll settle for living vicariously. In honor of today's route, enjoying a chilled glass of Provençal rosé while watching the stage coverage would be just the ticket.

Every edition of Le Tour seems to provide at least one spectacular crash in which the victim somehow manages to emerge relatively unscathed. This crash in yesterday's Stage 13 will be hard to top.


Anonymous said...

That was quite a crash! Knock on wood, I hope to avoid anything of the sort...

An ongoing fantasy of mine that I hope to realize someday is extensive cycling in Europe's wine regions. Alsace, Burgundy and Sardinia all come to mind, though I suspect the Mosel would be rather grand as well.

- wolfgang

Nancy Deprez said...

Great pictures. That so makes me want to go to the South of France.

Patrick said...

Let me know if you need a domestique for that trip Dave.

Like I need a reason, but similarly motivated, I dipped into a little bit of Sergio Germano's Dolcetto in honor of the detour into Piemonte last night.

Looks like a great week ahead.

David McDuff said...

Good to see you here, Wolfgang. I'm overdue for a trip to Burgundy in any shape or form. But cycling through Alsace and the Mosel sounds fantastic.... Crashing goes hand in hand with racing but, in all my years in the sport, I never managed to snap a frame in two.

Me too, Nancy. Me too.

I'll keep you in mind when I'm putting my squad together, Patrick. I haven't finished watching yesterday's stage yet, so you've given me a good idea for what to drink with dinner tonight.

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