Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Le Tour est Fin

The 2010 Tour de France: twenty-one stages, twenty-three days (24 for me... apparently I needed a rest day, too) and twenty-six posts. It's come to its end. Though those three weeks must have seemed like a veritable eternity to the racers and workers of the Tour, for fans like me it can seem the quickest three weeks known to man, over and done with far too quickly.

Calling this year's edition exciting and leaving it at that would be a short sell. It was exciting, but it was also the most open the event's been in years — a little predictable as always but also full of surprises.

I was jazzed to see Alessandro Petacchi return to near-top form, taking the green jersey for the first time in spite of Mark Cavendish's near invincibility in the majority of the sprint stages. There were revelatory performances by former mountain bike pro Ryder Hesjedal (7th overall), Belgian Tour rookie Jurgen Van Den Broeck (5th overall) and, most of all, veteran Chris Horner, who finished 10th overall with next to no fanfare after his team leader (Armstrong) and team heir apparent (Levi Leipheimer) both failed to perform up to expectations.

While I've written periodically of Le Tour de France and occasional other races for as long as I've been musing here at MFWT, 2010 marks the first year that I've actually provided coverage of every single stage, following along with the race route in something approximating real time. It wouldn't have been possible – or at least it would have been much, much harder – if not for help from a bunch of friends, both old and new.

So, here's a big shout out to Jeff, Greg, Dan, Benoit, Jim, Cory and Guilhaume, Wink, Brett, Claudine, Ben, Karen and Joe. I'm not sure I would have made it to the finish without them. You'll find links to their coverage (as well as my own) and their own home sites via the wrap-up list below.

I could never pick a favorite post from the bunch; that would be like trying to pick a favorite wine. Impossible. I am comfortable, though, with picking a favorite photo. It speaks for itself.

The 2010 Tour in review:
  • Prologue: a taste of things to come, some French, some not

  • Stage 1: thoughts of a quick Gueuze (or three) after the stage from Rotterdam to Brussels

  • Stage 1 Revisited: Jeff Appeltans, owner of Go Cycling, on the pleasures of Belgian beer and a tour through his homeland

  • Stage 2: for which Greg Gaughan kicked out a great culinary and brewery tour of Brussels and environs

  • Stage 3: one of my favorite beer importers, Dan Shelton, on the history of French farmhouse beers in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais

  • Stage 4: the first of two consecutive days on which I was forced – forced! I say – to drink Champagne

  • Stage 5: my second day of disgorgement

  • Stage 5 Revisited: the esteemed Benoit Tarlant came to the rescue, on a day of sun, fun and Le Tour along Épernay's Avenue de Champagne

  • Stage 6: Jim Budd of Jim's Loire got us as close to La Loire as this year's route allowed

  • Stage 7: in which Cory Cartwright and his suddenly silent biz-partner at Selection Massale tag-teamed their way through the hills of the Jura

  • Stage 8 Preview: my tongue-in-cheek press release for a quick, Jura-inspired trip to New York

  • Stage 8: Andy Schleck's first stage win, and an actual Jura-inspired trip to New York

  • Stage 9: Wink Lorch, of Wine Travel Guides, on wine, cheese and the Tour passing through her own mountainous back yard

  • Stage 9 Revisited: Wink's partner, Brett Jones, shared some real deal shots of the race in the Alps

  • Stage 10: Bugey-ing out of the Alps on Bastille Day

  • Stage 11: A day to Die... on which Claudine Knapp shared part of her annual culinary odyssey based around Le Tour

  • Stage 12: Remembering an old hero, and considering some possibilities as the race crossed the Rhône

  • Stage 13: A trip through Gaillac country, brought to us by Django-ologist Ben Wood of 67 Wine

  • Stage 14: Some thoughts on the origins of bubbles and the arguments for cassoulet on the roads near Toulouse

  • Stage 15: Memories of another hero (this one fallen young), and a lactic diversion

  • Stage 16: Day one in Jurançon country, in which I dropped the big d-word

  • Stage 16 Revisited: More on the land of Pau, and a personal journey through the culture of bike racing via Karen Ulrich of Imbibe New York

  • Stage 17: Posting outside the time limit on the Col du Tourmalet

  • Stage 18: The stage may have ended in Bordeaux but Joe Manekin took us on a journey SW to Irouléguy

  • Stage 19: For which I drank classified growth Bordeaux, almost as painful as riding an individual time trial

  • Stage 20: Dreaming of the past, present and future on the Champs-Élysées

The final podium at the 2010 Tour de France: Alberto Contador, Andy Schleck and Denis Menchov. Predictable, perhaps, but not without plenty of surprises along the way.

I had a great team helping me along the road this year, and I hope to build an even bigger team for next year. Cheers, all! Thanks for taking your pulls and thanks for following along. Hope you enjoyed the tour as much as I did.


Joe Manekin said...


My pleasure to contribute to the series. OK, Now I'm going to go back to that Dan Shelton post....

David McDuff said...

It was my pleasure to have you join in for the ride, Joe, though I must say I'm still shocked at the revelation that you'd never before sat down with a bottle (or two) of Irouléguy.

Hopefully we'll be able to enjoy some (more) of Dan's beers together sometime soon.

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