Pogacar shields the Giro with an exhibition in the Alps | Cycling | Sports

The peloton flees the shores of Lake Garda, mosquitoes and heat, and the climbers, light as birds, begin to fly, perhaps feeling free, at last. After the plain, come its mountains, the Alps, air. They escape in batches and 50 get together. Old people who look for each other, like Nairo, young people who seek to exalt themselves, like Piganzoli, like Pellizzari, like Steinhauser, veterans of the trade too, regulars, workers with the pedal, pick and shovel, for whom every pedal stroke it is a challenge. And his air is not the happy enthusiasm of someone who still believes in utopia, in the value of dreams, but rather the fatalistic enthusiasm of someone who is born defeated, condemned. As if the mountains so beautiful, the fir trees so slender, instead of pushing them to believe in their flight, crushed them with their weight, tons and tons of granite.

Their advantage never exceeds five minutes, but it barely drops below three. Neither tied nor free, like the worker who resorts to a loan from a usurer, and the latter, neither out of kindness nor charity but for pure practical reasons, sets him a minimum installment, a sufficient amount that he can pay every month without dying of hunger, but insufficient to deduct anything from the principal of the debt. They travel towards Livigno, the Northern Alps, at 2,300 meters their Mottolino station, 222 kilometers of always steep mountains, on the border with Switzerland and past the Mortirolo light (the climb through Monno, which they follow, is not the monstrous one of impossible slopes only practicable when the 30-sprocket crowns were invented, but a gentle one, 13 kilometers at 7.5%, is that of Leonardo Sierra not that of Marco Pantani).

Behind, never too far away, always in pink, from head to toe, Tadej Pogacar watches. Behind his faithful UAE, Novak, Grossschartner, Majka, the last one, caresses the pedals with a silky pedal stroke, releases his blonde locks through the cracks of his helmet, looks ahead, at the mountains in which his destiny is written, which It is not just winning the Giro, but chasing Merckx, chasing greatness above all things, with bare hands, because he has given the pink and black gloves to a fan in the gutter, he presses the radio button , announces his intentions to his people so that Majka quickens the rhythm, then blows his nose with the same hands, gets up from the saddle, accelerates and leaves. Nobody can follow him. Nobody tries. A little Dani Martínez, another little Tiberi. The most daring. Nothing Geraint Thomas, prudence. They are dead. The wind blows from your back. They suffer at the wheel. There are 15 kilometers left to the finish line. The very long climb to the Passo di Foscagno; a piccolo descent, the steep final ramp to the Mottolino, so hard that it forces you to lift your ass again. There is no Roglic, no Vingegaard, no one who can make him doubt, suffer. Pogacar accelerates, smoothly, without forcing, as if he were going downhill, and he devours kilometers, annihilating wills. He seeks, and finds, the ultimate symbol of his superiority: winning alone, in pink, in the Italian Alps. He achieves the greatness of the cannibal, and glacial snow on the roadsides. He leaves at 4:30 p.m., arrives at 5:00 p.m. 30 minutes exactly, 15 kilometers, 30 per hour. The numbers of the epic.

It is Pogacar’s fourth stage win. The Giro was already armored. It was missing the pink bow, the superfluous but essential decoration. The symbol.

When Pogacar accelerates and leaves the mortals stranded – Geraint Thomas and Daniel Felipe, his provisional podium companions, reached 2m 50s (3m counting the bonus), and are already 6m 41s and 6m 56s, respectively, in the general classification) – – the 50 escapees have blended into the landscape, scattered among the curves and the fir trees, one by one, and in front of everyone, three minutes or so, is Nairo Quintana, who wants to fly, the condor of the Andes again, the lion of Tunja, Nairito feels Nairoman and for a while the clean and clear, so wide and well paved, ascent towards Livigno is the scene of a journey through time, the ages of cycling. Nairo, to be the first, has had to overtake a young German named Georg Steinhauser, son of Tobias, an old cyclist who rode in Javier Mínguez’s Vitalicio, and his sister, Sara, married Jan Ullrich, the colossus who won the Tour of ’97, the fallen angel in the times of Armstrong and Eufemiano, and Georg, the Bavarian, is his nephew-in-law. And when Pogacar, with two kilometers to go, overtakes Nairo, he remembers, and says so, that the first Giro he saw as a child was in 2014, when he traveled to Trieste, so close to his Slovenia, to see the last stage. . He was 15 years old and saw the Colombian, king of the Dolomites, lord of the Stelvio and Val Martello, win in pink. “And of course I remembered then, and also the rivalry between Nairo and Froome, and how much it pissed me off to see that Nairo lacked courage, that he always waited until the end to attack, and I didn’t like it,” says Pogacar, He is like at home in Livigno, he has concentrated there so many times, he travels its roads so much, he studied so much there, in December, the stage he wanted to win above all. “But today Nairo was truly great. He has attacked from afar, he has done it. He has been extraordinary.”

Pogacar raises his index finger, number one, before crossing the finish line, and then goes with his masseuse, with his friend, Joseba Elgezabal, to do a roller, and laughs jokingly, as if it had been a day of walking (more than six hours on the bike through the mountains, 230 kilometers including the neutralized one, 35 on average total), and then Thomas and Daniel Martínez arrive with a broken face, fatigue, defeat. Nairo has only lost 29s. He crosses the finish line and crosses himself. He interviews Alberto Contador, also an old rival. He tells him about Pinto, to encourage him, how close you have been, how great, Nairo. Nairo looks at him with the look of someone who understands the other’s emotion, but knows that he would never have arrived. “It has been important, incredible, for personal motivation,” says the 34-year-old Colombian, who this year returned to Movistar after a year without racing, and suffered Covid in February, and broke a shoulder in March, in the Volta, and has returned. “And for the harmony of the group.”

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2024-05-19 15:52:39
#Pogacar #shields #Giro #exhibition #Alps #Cycling #Sports


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