Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tour De Brew - Stage 11

Andre Greipel beat his former teammate and bitter sprint rival Mark Cavendish but their head to head sprint was only the closing act of a thrilling finale to Carmaux that saw both Thomas Voeckler and Philippe Gilbert on the attack.

Breakaways have often formed as soon as race director Christina Prudhomme drops the start flag but today the 178 riders left in the race rolled along quietly for a few kilometres, A crash in the peloton after 11km then helped a breakaway of six go clear and set the pattern for the fast stage. Cancellara, and Leipheimer were caught up in the crash, while Gesink and Juan Antonio Flecha were also delayed and forced to work together to chase back to the peloton.

Gilbert used the short but painful final climb to attack the peloton. He got away with Voeckler and others as the green and yellow jersey wearers laid down their panache. Gilbert was riding for the stage victory and more precious green jersey points. It didn't quite come off but his final last dig cost HTC-Highroad dearly and helped Greipel in the sprint.

Cavendish tried to look after himself after Tony Martin led the peloton the final kilometre, letting Daniele Oss (Liquigas-Cannondale) lead out the sprint, but Cavendish then went a little early. Greipel was on him and had the speed to come past him before the line.

Stage 11: Blaye-les-Mines Lavaur 167.5 km


Halfway already? This stage marks the halfway point of the Tour but the sprinters will have already past most of their winning opportunities. After today, the only two stages where they will be expecting to get a look-in are in Montpellier and 11 days down the line on the Champs-Elysées. Consequently, it will be a surprise if they allow this stage to elude them. Most of the GC guys will be looking to have fresh legs for tomorrows first mountain stage so will look to take it easy today. With Bastille day tomorrow, a french rider like Sandy Casar or Jerome Pineau could make a hero of themselves in a breakaway that unless they can solidify their advantage, a bunch finish is the most likely. Flat finish, HTC and Cavendish to make up for last stages' narrow loss.

Beer for the stage: Red Hill Brewery Imperial Stout. Jet Black and one to be savoured. The mouth feel is silky smooth, the nose has roasted malt and a touch of caramel. A rich deep mocha and coffee flavour, is accentuated with caramel and smoky flavours. Willamette and Goldings hops were used in 3 additions to create a ale with a big bitterness and an assertive hop character. Another beer on the UCI banned substances list, but that didnt stop Katusha's Alexandr Kolobnev testing positive for it in the first week of the Tour, following an empty bottle of Imperial Stout being found in the team hotel minibar.

Bière locale: Brasserie Des Vignes. Located in Graulhet at just over halfway into the stage, they produce interestingly a range of Belgian style beers. Not exactly within spitting distance of the Belgian border and a lack of website leads me to believe one of two things; 1 - The brewer is a Flemish Ex-pat or 2 - They really like belgian styles of beer (but who doesn't). A couple of Gueuze, a Lambic, Biere de Garde, Belgian Strong Dark ale and Belgian Pale ale are what they churn out. In reality, sounds like a good spot to drop by to have a beer and spot the peleton for 30 seconds.


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