Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Le Tour de France: Getting Down to the Minutes

As Saturday's open invitation to participate in the upcoming coverage of the Tour de France here at MFWT fell on mostly deaf ears, I thought I'd kick it up a notch. You know, provide a little more detail so that you don't have to do quite as much leg work to figure out what's going on. And maybe post in the middle of the week, when everyone's reading their favorite blogs from the comfort of their workplace, rather than on a Saturday in the summertime.

If you have your own blog, that's great. But it's not a requirement by any means.

If you're into cycling, wonderful. If not, no worries. I'll help fill in the blanks.

And most importantly, have at it... and follow along. The action starts here this Saturday, July 3.

To get you started thinking about it, here's a list of all 20 stages of this year's Tour, along with the region(s) through which each stage passes (clicking on the stage number will take you to a map of each day's course) and the most obvious (to me...) topic(s) applicable to each. I'm certainly open to other ideas, so don't hold back.

  • Prologue, Saturday, July 3: Rotterdam > Rotterdam (8.9 km)
    No wine in Holland, but Gouda is less than 30K away....
    Status: It's probably appropriate for me to get things started myself, but if anyone out there is based in Rotterdam, I'd be open to reconsidering....

  • Stage 1, Sunday, July 4: Rotterdam, Netherlands > Brussels, Belgium (223.5 km)
    Belgian beer country, baby.
    Status: taken

  • Stage 2, Monday, July 5: Brussels, Belgium > Spa, Belgium (201 km)
    More beer, you say?
    Status: taken, I think

  • Stage 3, Tuesday, July 6: Wanze, Belgium > Arenberg Porte du Hainaut, France (213 km)
    Beer again, or perhaps a surprise.
    Status: spoken for

  • Stage 4, Wednesday, July 7: Cambrai > Reims (153.5 km)
    Champagne, anyone?
    Status: I'll be handling this one.

  • Stage 5, Thursday, July 8: Épernay > Montargis (187.5 km)
    Yesterday finished with Champagne, why not start today with more?
    Status: reserved.

  • Stage 6, Friday, July 9: Montargis > Gueugnon (227.5 km)
    The longest day of this year's Tour passes midway between the Pouilly-sur-Loire/Sancerre and the Yonne Department (Chablis, etc.)
    Status: taken.

  • Stage 7, Saturday, July 10: Tournus > Station des Rousses (165.5 km)
    The mountains approach. Anyone up for a Tour de Jura?
    Status: spoken for.

  • Stage 8, Sunday, July 11: Station des Rousses > Morzine-Avoriaz (189 km)
    The first day in the high Alps, starting in the Jura and ending in the Haut-Savoie, all the while within a stone's throw (or two) of Lake Geneva. Lots of good mountain wines and cheeses....
    Status: MFWT's taking a field trip for Sunday's stage... stay tuned.

From here on out it's wide open. At this point, I'm gonna have to start chasing people down. But if you're reading and up for contributing, just let me know. (I'll update this list with status changes as needed.)
  • Rest Day, Monday, July 12: Morzine-Avoriaz
    The first of two rest days. I'm thinking this might be a good time for a recap. But then, the racers will still ride on the rest days to make sure their bodies stay in rhythm. In other words, I'm open to proposals.

  • Stage 9, Tuesday, July 13: Morzine-Avoriaz > Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne (204.5 km)
    A second day in the high Alps, passing through the heart of the Savoie and, though never crossing the border into Italy, the Val d'Aoste will never be far from hand.
    Status: taken.

  • Stage 10, Wednesday, July 14: Chambéry > Gap (179 km)
    It's Bastille Day and the riders will bid adieu to the Alps. Beginning in Savoie, the riders will also leave wine country, skirting the mountains to their east on a path through the Val d'Isère (Rhône Alps). Sorry, no l'Alpe d'Huez this year. A good day for cheese, perhaps?
    Status: spoken for.

  • Stage 11, Thursday, July 15: Sisteron > Bourg-lès-Valence (184.5 km)
    Another stage that skirts both the mountains and, largely, wine country. The last third of the stage, however, will bring the riders within distant sight of Mont Ventoux (no ascent of Mont V this year, either) and the northeastern portions of the Côtes du Rhône.
    Status: reserved.

  • Stage 12, Friday, July 16: Bourg-de-Péage > Mende (210.5 km)
    A tough day, most likely one for the hard men of the Tour rather than the pure climbers, that will see the peloton travers the Rhône, passing very close to the Northern Rhône towns of Cornas and Saint-Péray.

  • Stage 13, Saturday, July 17: Rodez > Revel (196 km)
    Perhaps a day for an unknown rider to take his chance, or for a small breakaway to succeed, Stage 13 begins in Rodez, minutes away from Marcillac, and will pass through the Aveyron and Tarn (quite close to Gaillac) — the eastern core of Southwest France.
    Status: taken.

  • Stage 14, Sunday, July 18: Revel > Ax 3 Domaines (184.5 km)
    The first of several hard days in the French Pyrenées, Stage 14 runs through the interior portions of the Languedoc and Roussillon, passing quite close to Limoux en route. Anyone care to make an argument for sparkling wine primacy?

  • Stage 15, Monday, July 19: Pamiers > Bagnères-de-Luchon (187.5 km)
    Day two in the French Pyrenées runs through a bit of a vinous no-man's-land. Check out the map and give it your geekiest best.

  • Stage 16, Tuesday, July 20: Bagnères-de-Luchon > Pau (199.5 km)
    More of the Pyrenées. After two 1st Category climbs and two Beyond Category climbs, including the first of two passes of the Col de Tourmalet, the day ends with a descent into Pau, at the heart of Jurançon country.
    Status: covered.

  • Rest Day, Wednesday, July 21: Pau
    Rest day number two most likely means recap number two, unless someone has a brighter idea (see rest day one, above).

  • Stage 17, Thursday, July 22: Pau > Col du Tourmalet (174 km)
    The final day in the Pyrenées, finishing atop the feared Col du Tourmalet, more or less doubles back along the path of Stage 16. Even more Jurançon? We're not terribly far from Madiran. For that matter, you can be sure plenty citizens of the Basque country will be border hopping to catch the day's action.
    Status: locked.

  • Stage 18, Friday, July 23: Salies-de-Béarn > Bordeaux (198 km)
    A classic stage for the sprinters. The action begins in the Béarn, passes not terribly far east of Irouléguy and, or course, ends you know where....

  • Stage 19, Saturday, July 24: Bordeaux > Pauillac (52 km)
    The only long time trial stage in this year's Tour. The race of truth. Starting in the big city center of France's most trumpeted wine region and ending in the tiny but most important village of Pauillac.
    Status: Robert Parker's already signed on for this one but I'll happily bump him from his spot if someone else is interested.

  • Stage 20, Sunday, July 25: Longjumeau > Paris Champs-Élysées (102.5 km)
    The grand spectacle of the final day's finish on the cobbled streets in the shadow of l'Arc de Triomphe. Who'll be watching on the big screen TV from their favorite Paris wine bar?


abc said...

I have plans to try and do the whole thing. I pretty much made it through the Giro. We shall see. I've been slow in planning.

David McDuff said...

Hey winebookgirl,
I'd be more than happy to have you guest post here for one of the stages, should you see fit. Just let me know. Obviously, I've been rather slow in planning as well.

Tim said...

I'll give it a go. I'm doing something similar. Just finishing my "key stages" preview now, but here are my thoughts on the key contenders:

Hopefully our paths & comments will continue to cross during the Tour!

abc said...

I'm wine shopping today. Let me see what I end up with?
You can always email me at the uc press address.


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