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Tour Stage Ten Preview: Resting a Day Early

Saint-Flour - Albi (218km)

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As I write this, we’re at the mid-innings break in the cricket world cup final. I am thoroughly excited and the game has been compelling so far, but as I watch it I’m aware that this isn’t test cricket. It takes five days for a narrative to emerge, for a full version of the game with peaks and troughs, ebbs and flows, periods of action and periods where nothing much happens. Learning to love cricket is like learning to love a grand tour.

Tomorrow sees one of the periods where nothing much happens in the Tour, and you know what, that’s okay. We’ve had plenty of action in the first week (and, as the guy who previewed stages one, three and six, I’ve had more than my share of action. Attrition matters too, and so does fatigue, and so does getting the cyclists to the mountains. Tuesday sees a day off, but Monday sees a semi-rest day. With Sunday seeing the fireworks of Bastille Day and a breakaway, we can expect a day for the sprinters. If you’re stopping by the live threads, bring your geology chat and limericks.

So, if it really is as slow as I’m expecting, what will it look like? Plenty of bumps, but more early than late. None of the slopes are particularly long or particularly steep. Just before we take a drinks break, let’s look at the sprintermediate, which is on an up-slope and if the field is together it will be another chance for Sagan and Matthews to reassert their dominance over Groenewegen and Viviani.

Amy BC’s Wine of the Day

Laurent Cazottes Wild Quince Liqueur

Time for the annual bottle of Cazottes. This year: quince. Let’s learn more from Wine & Spirits: Since 1998, Laurent Cazottes has been making what are possibly the most painstakingly crafted liquors you can buy. He begins by growing his fruit biodynamically on his estate in Villeneuve-sur-Vère, in the southeast of Bordeaux. Then the fruit is hand-harvested, peeled, cut and seeded. A portion of the prepared fruit is crushed, fermented and distilled to make an eau-de-vie, while the remaining fruit is steeped in grape eau-de-vie for at least six months. Then the two are blended together to make an incredibly rich, clear snapshot of orchard fruit. The Cédrat (citron or ethrog) is beautifully golden in color, fragrant with sweet and fl oral citrus peel, and redolent of both candied and fresh citrus. The Quince is amazing—tart, bright and pure. These are two liqueurs you’ll want to enjoy simply, on their own.

Who wins?

Unlike the spintermediate, the finish is straightforward enough to be one for the pure sprinters. There isn’t much of a slope or much going on in the run-in. The weather doesn’t look to be a factor and, with a peloton coming off a quiet day and preparing for a rest day, there’s no excuse for letting a break go. As to who’ll win, round up the usual suspects. I think that means Dylan Groenewegen will beat Elia Viviani and Peter Sagan. No points for originality but once we see a sprint pecking order emerge, it tends not to change on the flat stages. The question is simply about whether the Decuninck train is good enough to overcome Groany’s marginal advantage in finishing speed.

Your main contenders
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Jersey Watch

Steady as she goes, you’d think, with Sagan likely to bolster an impressive lead in the green jersey, and not enough points on offer to make much of a difference in the polka competion, meaning that the break is likely to be contested by non-combatants in that battle. As to yellow and white, barring catastrophe or a truly unlikely break, I’m not expecting a change.

Albi, 2015. Look who won in green.
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