It is the twilight of the Vuelta. Time goes back a century in Asturias. Not so far away, between the mighty Nalón and the Trubia, howitzers and cannons are still melted and assembled by copying Russian models, so fluid and smooth. There are bears on the stone slopes and forests of the endless Gamoniteiru, 14 kilometers from Lena, 51 minutes, and because of its old vertical, bumpy asphalt, its narrow belt in which noisy cars and motorcycles stumble, some beasts coming from the edge of Neruda climb in a joyful crescendo of sirtaki, feline like the devouring fire in the branches, like the puma. It is the fight of alpha males, and all cyclists want to be, they seek to dazzle, they seek the admiration of others, their companions, the first, that people are left with their mouths open watching them go by attacking, and that for years the legends are written with their names. For this, years of life are left with an absurd heart racing on the climb, as, proud and exhausted, the Andalusian Juan Pedro López, one of the young Spaniards who arrives, sings at the goal. Victory is an addition.
The fight, the way, is the beauty. Egan Bernal, eganesque, volcanic, and Primoz Roglic, relentless, side by side again, jealous of each other, like the day before. What one has, the other wants. They chase each other while they chase Superman López, who flies and melts with the mist that rises towards the antennas at the top, leaves the ground and envelops him, and in his wake they wave flags of his Boyacá, white, red, green, and compatriots with hat back that are held with the hand so that they are not blown away with the wind that hits the face of the runners run to his side, and give him their breath. It is still daylight when the champion is crowned, the first winner on the new great summit of the Vuelta, which is already running towards its end. Its winner, surely, Roglic, his smooth red jersey, as just released, comes second, and a few meters behind, Enric Mas, who, like his partner López, has honored his employer, José María Álvarez Pallete, the president of Telefónica who He pays his salary and he is driving behind, happy because his team wins a stage and because, behind the unbeatable Slovenian, the second and third overall are wearing the jersey of his company. “A fabulous stage. The team represents our values and has our confidence and all our support ”, declares Pallete. Entrepreneurs want to be alpha males too. As much as cyclists want to be champions.
And they also want to be the best gregarious, and the fans give them their admiration for their glory, and talk about them excitedly, and in their villages they make them go up to the balcony of the town hall, and applaud them. They are the generous, the sacrificed, those closest to the soul of the people, who always give. They are Imanol Erviti and Nelson Oliveira, for example, who, halfway with those from Bahrain who are so hard-working throughout the Vuelta, keep the madness of Australian Michael Storer under control, who leaves alone by climbing the Cobertoria, 70 kilometers from the finish line. Lagos’s attacks, Egan’s fantasy, Roglic’s madness, jealousy, all sought to win the Vuelta. Those of the following day are calculated, measured, executed, thinking only of the stage victory. And they focus on the hardest part of the Gamoniteiru, when you leave the asphalt road in two directions (or in the same direction but in both directions, they need) and enter the narrow belt, in which David de la Cruz, who He attacked 12 kilometers from the top, as soon as he left Lena, and overtook an exhausted Storer, passing the first with just half a minute of advantage. An impossible dream victory. He has six kilometers ahead of him, the hardest of the most giant of the Asturian climbs, and, perhaps, Iberian ones. Those who go behind, those who calculate, measure the wind, know their legs, only wait their moment to attack without forgiveness. Egan does it, the first, and in his head the sensations and emotion of the previous day are repeated. Go ahead. With all. Attack, I am Attack, I am Egan. Roglic, like the day before, envies him the glory, and goes for him. It slows you down. Less than five kilometers to go. The braking is broken by Superman four kilometers away. It goes, and it goes so fast, as only he knows, it is an exhalation, fine as oxygen, and no one is going for it. “If I go, they will surely follow me, because I am closer [a 2m 22s estaba entonces; a 2m 30s, después, contabilizadas las bonificaciones] that’s why we decided to win the stage with Superman ”, says Enric Mas, who, with ants on his legs, resists the urge to attack. “I didn’t go for Superman because I kept watching Mas,” says Roglic, who only feels his pride threatened, not his third Lap. “I went for Egan because he was at his wheel when he attacked, and López’s wheel was not …”,
From the car, on TV, in Asturias you only see old cycling. Descending the Cobertoria, the road dry yesterday and the curves that one rainy day of the last century made Zülle and his foggy glasses fall, and the Swiss composed in a flash, instantaneous, the great haiku of cycling – ”curved water / ass and bicycle / in flowers. Pican ”-, and the Cordal and its fearsome curve of the mine, in the steepest part of the penultimate pass, the fans give newspaper sheets to the cyclists who are chasing, Caruso, the Italian from Bahrain who in Velefique, desert, hot, he thought he was in his Sicily, and he tucks them into the jersey of apparent synthetic materials that spit out sweat and avoid the cold, and he goes down like nobody else, without catching cold in the gut, and “the alcoholic eyes of the jungle ”, as Neruda sings to the beasts and the music is put on by Theodorakis.
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