Eucalyptus is made to burn (and to produce leaves that when chopped and boiled in home stoves will smell like winter and balsamic chest syrup), they say in fire-ravaged California, where a smart guy brought them from Australia and began to plant them at the beginning of the last century. Buy plots of eucalyptus, he proclaimed, which grow fast, 10 times faster than oaks, and at 10 years it already gives good wood. It was the eucalyptus fever that ended as quickly as the discovery that the invasive and invasive tree did not yield wood but pulp, good for chipboards and newsprint, and was worth nothing, and like eucalyptus as pyrotechnic as its torch soul that surrounds the cyclists on Friday on the way to Monforte de Lemos, the Vuelta is made to burn and consume itself in devouring Galicia – following Cabe and Father Miño towards their encounter with the Sil and his death – on Saturday, on a steep slope very Roglic, the quiet arsonist, not far from Vigo.
It is not that the fire of the Vuelta, as in love with the fires as some trees in the heat and the hot summer wind, needs a lot of courage to ignite, nor the leaks to become uncontrollable. It helps that the Lord has not endowed cyclists with the wisdom of rats, as Bacon said, the one that allows rodents to leave a house just before it sinks. The natural selfish intelligence of runners, the one that guarantees their survival in a sinking and transforming world, is always overwhelmed by unexpected outbreaks of generosity and effort that, as Egan Bernal says, border on masochism. And it is enough, perhaps, that Magnus Cort Nielsen, the already well-known Danish in pink, enters one so that a stage that is expected calmly because it arrives after an intense Asturian crusade, but, like a hangover that at dawn makes the That he hasn’t slept and his tongue is dry and his head wants to burst, makes him say, I don’t drink today, and he starts drinking and he likes it, it becomes a new party, and the one who organizes it enjoys it, Magnus, who , metronomic and varied like a wedding dress – one win a week; a slope, Cullera; a book sprint, Córdoba; a breakaway sprint, Monforte – equals three victories with the leader of unspeakable courage, Roglic, and Jakobsen, the sprinter who came back to life.
“A good show, what a pulse,” says, exhausted, Enric Mas, the second overall, who likes parties more and fires in other areas, not like this bottle in which they immolate themselves, mounted on a plain so deceptive towards the Ribeira Sacra that it makes Egan say, so thoughtful, that it was so hard that it gave him the impression of spending 100 kilometers climbing without stopping. The peloton, which has rid itself of the danger Jakobsen in the two seconds of the beginning that announce to the pilgrim that Galicia is anything but flat, advances without mercy or care, stubbornly pursuing more than 40 on average. The DSM wants to retest the value of its young sprinter, the Italian Alberto Dainese; the UAE continues to trust its veteran and friendly Matteo Trentin, too many times second, and Michael Matthews, the Australian expert, needs to give his Bike Exchange a victory. The escape never goes very far, hardly more than two minutes, but, despite all the efforts of the hunters, it is inextinguishable. They are final 20 kilometers with 30s of difference that, fierce, as fierce is the style of the young American Quinn Simmons, the cyclist who praised Donald Trump on his Twitter, and his excessive relays, defend the fugitives, and reach the last straight with time enough for the other American, and pink, of the escape, the so hippy Craddock who toured France alone in July tracing in parallel all the stages of the Tour, and drank champagne in Paris, to launch the victorious sprint.
The Escolapios de Monforte school, which belonged to the Jesuits until Carlos III expelled them from Spain, is a small Escorial, granite and so hard that the Lisbon earthquake that made Kant’s routine of walks crazy, a clock with legs, over the Könisberg bridges, he only made a few cracks and did not even touch the gigantic walnut wood altarpiece – thank God that there were no eucalyptus trees in the region then, in the seventeenth century, and there were trees of all life —Nor did he collapse his magic staircase, 35 granite steps, 13, nine, 13, its three arches, of one ton each, held in the air and its 35 tons as solid and graceful as the leadership of Primoz Roglic, which is sustained so superior not so much in the arches hidden behind the walls as the staircase, not so magical but so light, but in its hardness so showy on all terrains, mountains, time trials, steep slopes; in his team, so whole and striking, and in the free and happy spirit that invades him on the way to victory in his third consecutive Vuelta, from which two stages separate him, a fire in the Pereiro territory, in the mountains between Vigo and the Miño, and the Cíes Islands in the Atlantic, and a time trial to the end of the Camino de Santiago. And when they ask him if he has already won the Vuelta, he denies it. “Even if he is the best time trialist, from experience I know that the last time trial is treacherous,” he says, and laughs remembering his great sporting tragedy, the way he lost the Tour less than a year ago in the last time trial. And his laughter extinguishes hopes.
You can follow EL PAÍS DEPORTES in Facebook and Twitter, or sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.