Firstly if your name is either Luke or Charlie then it my be best to pass on this post as its subject may provoke stress – something to be avoided if you are becoming senior in years.
On Saturday (29th June) the 100th edition of the Tour de France will start in Porto Vecchio in Corsica and finish three weeks later in Paris with a spectacular night-time show.
I’m greatly relieved to see that for the 2013 edition, at least, that Professor Michel Reynaud has not succeeded in banning the names of grape varieties from the peloton. As last year we have a Pinot (Thibault) and a Pineau (Jérôme) riding. Both are French. Whether Jerome is a Pineau de la Loire or a Pineau d’Aunis I don’t know. However, I suspect that Thibault is a Pinot Blanc rather than a Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier etc. as he is under 25 and able to compete for the White Jersey for the best young rider.
Although there are more than 200 riders starting there would appear to be no other riders named after grape varieties. The excellent Wine Grapes by Jancis Robinson MW, Julia Harding MW and José Vouillamoz was indispensable for checking cyclists’ names against grape varieties.
There are, however, a number of riders’ surnames that would be suitable for grape varieties/wines. To cite a few: Michael Albasini must be a dry white from either Italy or Portugal; Johannes Fröhlinger might be an Austrian cross between Riesling and Grüner Veltiner; and Przemyslaw Niemiec could be a tannic red grape from Slovenia or Croatia.
Albeit that Reynaud has only recently submitted his report on addiction to the French government, the organisers may nevertheless have been wary of highlighting wine too far in the Tour’s 100th edition (http://www.steephill.tv/tour-de-france/#route-map). The 2013 Tour does not visit Bordeaux, Burgundy or Champagne.
It does pass through the Loire but the only appellation it goes through is Saint-Pourçain – a refreshing glass of Tressalier in passing perhaps? The route skirts to the east of the Côte Roannaise before the stage finish in Lyon. For the finish in Tours the bunch will approach from the west – to the north of the vineyards of Bourgueil and Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil. The following day it passes through Cormery and Genillé as it heads towards Saint-Amand-Montrond. Later it passes just the east of the northern Rhone vineyards but will pass through the Côtes du Rhône around Vaison la Romaine and some Côtes du Ventoux before tackling the classic climb up the Ventoux itself. Later the peloton may glimpse a few vines in Savoie. Earlier on the riders will have seen vines in Corsica, Provence, Languedoc and perhaps some of the Gaillac vineyards for the stage finish in Albi.
Of course, the route planning may have nothing to do with Professor Reynaud rather down to Christian Prudhomme and his team wishing instead to demonstrate the diversity of French wines.