Pike’s wall barely has two kilometers of ascent. Oh my gosh! Let no one think of turning it up after it has been warm to meat or fish. “We will only reach the finish line 15”. The Slovenian Tadej Pogacar comments after having climbed it with the bike.
On Friday, at about noon, you have to look at the date on your watch lest there be some mistake to confirm that it is the next day when the Tour travels through its slopes on its way to the finish line in Bilbao, the end of the first stage. You have to review the date because with so many people, graffiti, some motorhomes parked, it seems that in a few minutes the cyclists will be competing, which in a certain way is a true fact because the wall, located near the Sondika airport, becomes on a catwalk of Tour participants.
A cyclist who is recovering from the effort at the top is asked if he has come across someone. He is happy because they passed him while he climbed the wall, a joy for any fan, no less than Jonas Vingegaard and Wout van Aert, two who can win today in Bilbao. Others entertain themselves with the photos or the applause and with being greeted back as Julian Alaphilippe does, another who aspires to the first yellow jersey, while he returns to his hotel.
The wall is a festival, a port from which the bonus has been taken away at the last minute because the Tour prefers that the first one to cross the finish line next to the Begoña basilica, another ‘encerrona’, one kilometer to the other, dress in yellow. 5 percent, in the sentence not suitable for sprinters of the premiere of the race.
tribute to legends
And it is that the first stage is something like a tribute to the Biscayan cyclists who traveled to the Tour; from the first, Vicente Blanco, who was called ‘El Cojo’, and who arrived tired at the start of 1910 because he had to travel from the Basque Country by bike.
Today, of course, it would be unthinkable in a diametrically different type of cycling that lives on cyclocomputers, on what the watts dictate and with the directors communicating to the runners through the earpiece that if a curve is coming, that if the direction of the wind changes, that Be careful with the descent that is dangerous or until the moment to attack.
The Tour passes through the land of great cyclists. La Vizcaya de los Antón Barrutia, Fede Etxabe, Patxi Gabica, Andrés Gandarias, Iñaki Gastón, Julián Gorospe, Dalmacio Langarica or Jesús Loroño, who were legends and, above all, on the roads where Marino Lejarreta trained, who was known as the ‘Junco de Berriz’.
And also for the current riders, those who will have the honor of wearing a Tour number in the places where they grew up as cyclists, Pello Bilbao, Jonathan Castroviejo and Omar Fraile, the last Spanish cyclist to win a stage in the French round. It happened in a distant 2018, at the Mende airfield, in the Massif Central, before the Pandemic. Since then zero patatero in victories. But it is that in a kingdom dominated by cyclists like the Dutch Mathieu van der Poel, triumphs are more expensive than oranges.
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