Saturday, July 3, 2010

TDF 2010 Prologue: Rotterdam

It's 9:00 PM here on the East Coast. It's tomorrow in France. I'm just now sitting down to watch the prime time coverage of today's Tour de France prologue. Don't tell me who won, please. I still don't know. For years now, I've struggled not to learn the results until I've had a chance to actually watch the race. Such is my situation at the moment.

So, for tonight you'll just get a teaser of a post. It's actually rather fitting, as the prologue essentially serves as the amuse bouche of the Tour, the appetizer before the twenty course meal to follow.

This year's course, through inner-city Rotterdam (click on the map above for an enlarged view of the course), is long by prologue standards at just under 9km. It's rare that the prologue has proved to be a meaningful stage in the overall picture but it's still an incredibly prestigious stage. It's a chance for the fast men, the bike handlers, the powerhouses and the anaerobic performers to stencil their names into the list of stage winners. More importantly, it's a chance, in just a few minutes, to stake an early claim to the leader's yellow jersey. The maillot jaune. The symbol, almost universally recognized now, of Tour leadership.

I don't know the results yet, but I have watched enough to know that the conditions for a fast, technical stage like this are far from ideal. Rain. Inner city streets. Oil. Painted stripes and sharp corners. A recipe for road rash and disappointing finishing times. All of that said, my call for the stage still goes out to Fabian Cancellara, one of the true strong men of the professional peloton who's made a specialty of stages like this over the last several years. Time has already told, but I will see over the course of the next hour or so....

In the coming days, I hope to provide content that covers both the Tour and the wine and food culture of the areas through which it passes. For today, not so much. Remember, this is just a teaser stage. I could tell you that Rotterdam is one of the ten largest cities in Europe. But I've never been there....

So I'd rather tell you that I celebrated the opening of the race with friends over dinner tonight at an excellent little Japanese restaurant, Masamoto, in the strip mall suburbs of the Brandywine Valley. A pair of 2007's – Keller's Westhofener Kirchspiel Riesling Spätlese "R" and François Chidaine's Montlouis "Les Tuffeaux" – provided most excellent pairing experiences.

And I'll tell you that in the days to come there will be much, much more action. So, thanks as always for reading, for watching, and for not telling me who won.


TWG said...

You'll get to see tomorrow's stage live, I hope.

David McDuff said...

Thanks, Tom. Watching it now. I definitely like to catch the live coverage when I can, as I much prefer the commentary from Phil and Paul to the spiel from the prime time crew.

After his surprisingly strong prologue yesterday, I'm looking for Tyler Farrar to take the win in a field sprint in Brussels today.

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