Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Monday, 24 July 2017

2017 Tour de France – final overall standings and some reflections

Dylan Groenewegen wins sprint on 
Champs Elysée from André Griepel

 Chris Froome's 4th Tour de France victory

Michael Matthews comfortably wins Green
 Warren Barguil comfortably wins Climbers' Jersey

 Simon Yates has just over two minutes 
to win Young Riders

 Team Sky win Team – leading from start to finish

Dylan Groenewegen went for a long sprint on the Champs Elysée yesterday and held off the fast closing André Griepel to take his first Tour de France stage win. Griepel had been out of position and too far back at the final bend and left himself too much ground to make up. This means that this is the first Grand Tour, he has entered, since 2007 when he has not won a stage. 

Chris Froome safely completed the ceremonial ride into Paris to claim a remarkable fourth Tour de France win and the third consecutive win. He now becomes the only person to have four Tours and is fifth in line to Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain, who have all win the title five times. 

Fewer mountain top finishes almost certainly made this a closer Tour than usual, although the Giro had plenty of high mountains and the 2017 edition was very close going into the time trial on the last day. 

Froome rode an intelligent race backed by Team Sky clearly the strongest team followed by Romain Bardet's AG2R la Mondiale.

(More to follow.)

Sunday, 23 July 2017

2017 Tour de France: Bodnar wins TT Froome clinches 4th TDF; Stage 21 preview

Notre Dame de la Garde, Marseille

Macief Bodnar was the surprise victor 
yesterday with a fine ride

 Chris Froome with third place 
clinched his 4th Tour de France victory

As was widely expected Chris Froome clinched his fourth Tour de France victory – four in five years (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017), He becomes the fifth most successful winner of the Tour de France. Only Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx Bernard Hinault, and Miguel Indurain have won more editions of the Tour – all on five each. Armstrong, of course, 'won' seven but has been stripped of all of them because of his doping.

During our stay in Marseille in January we walking up the steep hill to Notre-Dame de la Garde, so it was no surprise to see some of the Tour riders struggling up the steep slope. Clearly some had underestimated its difficulty.    

Macief Bodnar set the best time (28.15) early on and despite Michal Kwiatkowski doing a great ride he just fell short of overhauling Bodnar by a second. 

Although Rigoberto Uran did a good ride (28.46) Chris Froome (28.21) was never threatened and came in third. Romain Bardet, suffering from a cold, lost a lot of time coming in at 30.18. He lost 2nd place overall to Uran and only held onto third place overall by one second to Mikel Landa.      


Stage 21: Montgeron to Paris Champs-Elysée 103 kms

Today is the traditional ceremonial stage into Paris enlivened at the end of the final sprint. Unless there is a crash there will be no change to the overall standings. From a depleted field of sprinters I am going for André Griepel to win challenged by Michael Matthews and Evald Boasson Hagen.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

2017 Tour de France: Boassen Hagen wins in Salon, Marseille TT preview

Well deserved solo victory for Edvald Boasson Hagen 
in Salon-de-Provence 
No change overall as peloton 
goes for long training ride yesterday 

Edvald Boasson Hagen was a worthy winner in Salon-de-Provence yesterday. He and Nikias Arndt choose the right way round a roundabout with just three kilometres to go opening up a little gap to the rest of the small leading pack. Boasson Hagen quickly exploited this dropping Arndt and soloing to a popular victory – his third TDF stage victory. The peloton came in 12.27 down having decided to go for a club ride once the breakaway got away. 

Stage 20 Preview: Marseille TT 22.5 kms The final decider 

TT course is flat apart from steep 
1 km climb up to Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde

Just at this year's Giro d'Italia the winner will be decided by a time trial right at the end of the race. OK the Tour still has the stage into Paris but this is ceremonial apart from the sprinters race of the Champs d'Elysée. 

Athough the 22.5 km course is largely flat around the Port and coastline of Marseille it does have a sharp, steep climb up to Notre-Dame-de-la Garde followed by a speedy descent. The course is technical so good bike handling will be very important. Fortunately the weather is expected to be dry – let's hope so we don't want a repeat of Düsseldorf.

The odds have to be on Chris Froome winning his 4th Tour de France – his third in a row. The biggest threat comes from Rigoberto Uran who is 29 seconds behind Froome rather than Bardet who is at 23 seconds. Uran could dethrone Froome but my guess for the podium is Froome (1st), Uran (2nd) and Bardet (3rd).