SportsNairo Quintana teaches the children on the climb to Boí Taüll, where...

Nairo Quintana teaches the children on the climb to Boí Taüll, where he reaches the lead of the Volta a Catalunya


Higuita, Almeida, Carapaz and Nairo, on the Boí Taüll climb.Toni Albir (EFE)

Nairo moves. The children open their eyes, and also their mouths, admired, suffocated. They learn. They also take note of Higuita’s calculation, of the permanent energy of Almeida, a light and fast Lusitanian who has pulled all the last three kilometers and has broken the hopes of the leader O’Connor and the anxieties of the children, who arrives with Nairo, in shrimp, with Higuita, dynamite in the last meters, and subdues the two in a long sprint, 200 meters of steep land, the top of the Volta. For the game of bonuses and points, tied on time, the leader is Nairo, 32 years old, who is approaching his second victory in the Catalan race, the oldest in the Spanish calendar.

Exhausted in the most academic stage, the one that most clearly shows the face of the desires of the runners and the games of the teams, the value of the old precisely, Valverde steps aside, losing almost six minutes, he no longer counts.

Juan Ayuso, Carlos Rodríguez, 19 years old, 21 years old, the Spaniards who arrive, move in the courtyard of the greats, already feel part of them, it is their club. It is the climb to Boí Taüll, long, stretched out, windy. They are cogs in the gears of their teams, working as a cooperative. Castroviejo, from Carlos Rodríguez’s Ineos, is the platoon’s metronome. In his privileged skull, bundles and bundles of neurons and nerve endings compute all the impulses, stop the impulses, transform them into measured pedal strokes, a uniform rhythm that the survivors appreciate as much as the wheel of the person in front of them that protects him from the wind. This is how he led Egan to win the Giro; This is how he takes the boy from Almuñécar on the Volta, and at his wheel, attentive, Ayuso, and also the Ecuadorian Carapaz, who tries to scare everyone with 3.7 kilometers to go and scares himself, because he faints. And his failed attack is the signal for Almeida, who steps forward. And Nairo, Higuita, always hidden, on the prowl. Waiting for his moment. Teachers.

In the brain of the Portuguese from Caldas da Rainha, and from the UAE of Ayuso, the heir to Agostinho who was revealed in the Giro del 20, a metronome does not throb regularly but rather, accelerated, ambition. He is 23 years old. He got tired of the Quick Step. He does not pedal so fast, so unbearably, to help, but to hurt, to hurt, to burst those who try to follow him. To achieve his first victory with his new team. In the Giro del 20 he succumbed in the Stelvio. Boí Taüll suits you better. Fewer bumps, more friendliness for your time trial rolling power, for your punch of sprinter He doesn’t work for a teammate to win, he works for himself from the head of the group of good guys who are less and less in number, more in seniority, experience. The children, his partner Ayuso, his friend Rodríguez, open up. O’Connor resists, the Australian who wears the leader’s jersey, white and green stripes of the centennial US Sants, after his victory on Wednesday in La Molina. Nairo, Higuita, sharpen the knife and try to stick it a kilometer from the devastating goal. O’Connor can’t stand them. Yes, Almeida, who finishes them off.

There is talk of Nairo, of his teaching, in the Volta, of his chances of winning the race on Sunday on the slopes of Montjuïc that he knows so well, as he already won it six years ago, but they also talk, with more excitement, with the impatience demanded by the novelty, of the great power of the UAE, the team that controls the stage with the escape of Marc Soler, sacrificed; with the far attack, 12 kilometers, towards the top of his New Zealand climber George Bennett; with the resistance among the best of his Ayuso, with the clarity and winning instinct of Almeida, and the peloton wonders if on Saturday, from the beach of Salou to Cambrils, so close, with an excursion in between through the Sierra de Montsant and the mountains of Prades, so open to ambushes, and rains are expected, and their descents, the value of an offensive team, Soler, Almeida, Ayuso, Bennett, will not be more important than the defensive capacity, so many times proven, from the Colombian from Tunja, the one who teaches the children.

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