Stage 17 Review: Edvald Boasson Hagen attacked out of an early break on the day's final climb, the Pramartino. He then skillfully raced down the extremely difficult descent for his second stage win this year. Further back, Alberto Contador attacked twice on the Pramartino, but the Schleck sisters and Evans covered him both times.
This is a terrific article by Blazzin Saddles posing the question “Is Thomas Voeckler most exciting maillot jaune since, erm, Thomas Voeckler in 2004?
Stage 18: Pinerolo - Galibier 200.5km
There probably haven't been many, if any, occasions when the Izoard has been the smallest climb on the day's itinerary, which sums up just how extraordinary this stage is. Starting with the ascent of the huge Agnel climb (23.7km @ 6.5%), "the roof" of this year's Tour, then passing over the spectacular Izoard (14.1km @ 7.3%) , the day culminates with the ascent to the Tour's highest-ever finish on the summit of the Galibier (23km @ 5.1%). It will be of little consolation to most that this is reached from its easier side. The last 8.5km are tough and should see an intense battle between the podium contenders. Contador will do everything in his power to break them up and consolidate on a attacks, whether this happens on the 1st, 2nd or 3rd HC climb will be anyone’s guess.
Start pumping the coffees into you now, because this is THE stage of the tour not to miss, especially with the Alpe d’Huez tomorrow.
The view from the Col du Galibier at 2645m. It’s been Christian Prudhomme’s mission to have a mountain top finish here since he became in charge of the TdF. This will be the century celebration of the mountain’s first appearance in the TdF in 1911. This will be the first time that the finish line has been held at the top of the Galibier.
Beer for the stage: With such a pincale stage, why not set the standard high and try to find a Westvleteren 12. A monster 10.5% quadrupl, widely regarded as one of the best beers in the world. Mahogany color with a small off white head. Nose is dark fruity, light must, hints of yeast and prunes. Palate is rich and malty - bitter chocolate, cherries, figs, raisins, and the sweet toffee like malty character you expect in a belgian dark strong. Extremely complex and impressive quad. I was absolutely impressed at how well the alcohol is masked.
Biere Locale: Something Italian this time around. The BEBA brewery in Villar Perosa, just up the road from the start town of Pinerolo, prouce a range of 6 beers, 3 lighter styles including a lager and 3 stronger dark malt beers.