Superman is a little bird, a sparrow in the skies of great birds of prey, of predators who have stolen his glory. More human than anyone, he pulls his load, his guilt. He runs after them to retrieve his treasure, which is receding every second. It does not attend to reasons. Anger and frustration, his animal stubbornness, his more than stubborn perseverance, push him. At his wheel, comfortable, his rivals let themselves be carried away. Also Egan Bernal, whose wheel Superman was watching when those in front accelerated, and also Haig, who was fourth and takes away the podium. But Egan doesn’t react then. He withdraws to protect the attack of his teammate Yates, and the gesture is difficult for him to lose the white jersey of the Vuelta that would have completed his collection of whites with those of the Tour and the Giro. They have left Superman isolated, condemned to pedal against the wind. They wait for their moment to, also raptors, leave alone, wounded, the little bird that keeps trying to fly.
He passes his team car. From the window, the boss, Eusebio Unzue, with the common sense of someone who has experienced similar situations, a few, every year, and has been cycling for 40 years, yells at him. It’s absurd, he says. It doesn’t make sense for you to keep pulling, he says to the unredeemed, if you continue like this, those you carry with you will attack you when you faint and you will burst; wait for Rojas to arrive, who is a minute away, recover at his wheel and attack in the last kilometers. To Superman the words sound like not advice, but betrayal, redemption. They ask him not to fight, not to fight for the podium that flies, why? And, on top of that, his partner Enric Mas is ahead, riding Roglic. Life is pink for him. The Vuelta will finish second and he, once again, off the podium, as in the Tour of the previous year, as in the Giro de Carapaz, where he ended up fighting with a Slovenian fan who had made him fall when he attacked on Monte Avena … head explodes. He gets off the bike.
Never seen. A candidate for the podium, says the cold diagnosis, reacts to frustration like a child who does not buy ice cream. Being a cyclist how complicated it must be, the cold ones qualify its hardness. “I have always left because of serious falls,” says Primoz Roglic, “but I’m not going to give an opinion. It’s not my team, it’s not my problem ”.
In hot, the protagonists are silent, the fans speak, shout, stoked by the wife and the cyclist’s father-in-law, who stir up the always latent anti-Spanish sentiment in Colombia.
Even recognizing the impartial that in the rebellious childishness of Superman Unzue’s team was more victim than victimizer, one more Vuelta, as in Covatilla 20, as in Escalona 19, the Movistar, who came to the end happily with two of their own in the podium, vinegar ends the race, burned his image again for a viral controversy.
At night, at dinner at the hotel, Superman, always human and sentimental, sorry to see the extent of his abandonment, gets up and apologizes to everyone, to the colleagues who have worked for him (and ends the Movistar Tour with only four cyclists), the assistants, the technicians, disappointed, by an action that hurts everyone. And everyone returns to see the cyclist there who came so humble a few months ago to the team and integrated so well, who went fishing in Andorra with his partner Verona and when they told him, in Andorra itself, to leave a Tour in the who was crawling badly injured head and legs he refused. “I’ll be there until I can’t help the team any more,” he said, and three days later there he was, at Col de Portet, Mas’s worst day, pulling the Majorcan who doesn’t look back in the Vuelta. And then he gave up, his task accomplished.
No decision on a possible punishment for the cyclist who damaged the team will be taken hot, Movistar sources say. “You have to let your spirits calm down,” they say, and no one talks about a possible termination of a contract that ended this year and that lasted two more seasons after the Tour. Telefónica officials traveled to Santiago to see the end of the Vuelta, and Giovanni Lombardi, the manager of the Colombian and also of Enric Mas, also flew to the Galician capital.
“Ay”, sighs Eusebio Unzue. “Ay”, repeat. “This going out with several leaders and deciding the road later always brings problems. None of this would have happened to us if we had a single great leader, as in the days of Indurain… If we had a Pogacar, a Roglic… One above, 20 at your service ”.
Or, I could even add, more sighs, if we had in the men’s team one like Annemiek van Vleuten, the Dutch who leads the women’s team since this season and has just added the women’s version of the Vuelta (the Ceratizit Challenge) and two of his stages to his hunting notebook, which, at 38 years old, already reaches 90 victories, and 13 of them this 20021 … And with his beautiful red jersey and purple sleeves he climbs the podium erected in Santiago for the Vuelta, an element barbarian whose vulgarity subject to the will of its advertisers dirties the beauty of the Plaza del Obradoiro.
And the sad lament of the head of the Movistar team is joined, also sighing, by the Spanish fans, who find the interregnum that follows the last golden era of their cycling, that of the best Valverde, Contador, Purito … Possibilities revolutionaries by force, do not ask one to transform the world, not even one who makes great speeches, they simply need one who speaks, one that makes them see the possibility of joy, that robs them of the misery of the sour soul .
You can follow EL PAÍS DEPORTES in Facebook and Twitter, or sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.