All the stories and tragedies that make cycling one of the most outrageous human sports come together in Vogue, where the pride of the undefeated Tadej Pogacar wins a stage victory in the sprint against him. Jonas Vingaard in untouchable yellow.
Steep, narrow and shady roads, fresh as in Asturias or Oriente Antioquia, ancient mountains, folded slabs, magma sticking out, worn granite, almost like hot air balloons, flowers, like Ballon d’Alsace, the first mountain pass the tour dared, in 1905, Mount Destiny, the first to reach it, and two years later in winter. In the morning he approached his team headquarters on the outskirts of Paris, took his bicycle hanging from the ceiling and tied a rope to the same hook, tied a knot and hung from there until he died. He did not leave a farewell letter to his four-month-pregnant wife. “The sadness of love,” said his brother Andre, to explain, to make a fool of himself, so as not to admit that the obligation to be a champion was too much for his brother’s champion sensibility, the need to be what he didn’t want to be, the lion on the emblem of his Peugeot bike, the Lion of Balfour, his last adventure on the penultimate stage of the colossal Boy Mountains in District 23. Refusing to feel obligated to win the Tour, he loved his life as a farmer and declared, “Thank heavens I didn’t win the Tour; it was winning it.” It’s going to change my life in a way I wouldn’t have,” and that being so, he’s the most likable cyclist ever.
In the Vosges, in the Piedra Gorda, the third stage of the Perseids, a rain of climbs to defy the nightly barrage of stars, the fireworks they ignite, last hand in hand, Tadej Pogacar, always in white, and Jonas Vingegaard, always in yellow, Pinot approaches the escape that Ciccone gathers his suits in red, approaches through a pastime that generates clouds of blue and yellow smoke, she exclaims with joy, Bye kids. Bye guys, bye touring, let the others bleed. In the Vosges, on the second climb, Moirat’s cross, Mikel Landa, who chose not to win in order to be himself, attacked with his hands up the handlebars, sad, tired. It lasts for a little while. It’s the Earth. It wasn’t his tour. And even in a fleeting shot you can see The Columbians, magical realism in the Atlantic Forest, Egan mourning the return tour, working on the future tour; Harold Tejada, the best rated in the Andean country, transferred his Astana jersey.
Alsace ball, first mountain of the day, short and fiery, fate chose in 1969 the tragedy of Louis Ocana, the unfading glory of Eddy Merckx, the first cyclist on the moon. In the same place where the cannibal puts on his first yellow jersey, a cyclist from Prego strikes himself on the descent, falls on his face, breaks his mouth, and is unable to eat, drinking only through a straw, Perorina puts her hand on his shoulder, encouraging him. Merckx ended up winning five rounds. Ocaña fell and bled again when he was about to win one, and only won it when Merckx didn’t run him. He shot himself after 20 years.
In the same place, the same downward curve of the Alsatian ball, the mouthless Carlos Rodriguez falls. He made a gash, perhaps his spectacles, in his perfect brow bone, and blood ran down his cheeks and down his left arm. A boy from the shoulder fights wounded. It’s not okana. He does not believe that destiny is written. He wants to write his book at the wheel of a ferocious Adam Yates with his ally brother and with his band from the United Arab Emirates, the Pogacar Band, which Marc Soler pulls hard, with a gondola, head up, head down. They follow up on Honor’s Triumph, chasing Pinot past Schlucht Pass, at the Little Ball. 1,163 metres, where only the boy from the village went, is connected with no rest, a simple swing, and direct contact with the Tour’s final climb, the Platzruessel.
It’s raining stars at night in July, it’s showery. Bye Pinot, bye suffering. It’s Pogacar, who attacks six kilometers from the summit, and it’s Vingegaard who fights back. It’s the Yates brothers, starting a consistent tour together, three weeks ago in Bilbao, day one, same scene. They cooperate. Brotherly love, like hate, is stronger than reason. One, Adam, is looking forward to consoling his third-place finish. The other, Big Brother, searches and finds the fourth he’s been holding Carlos Rodriguez With pins, with teeth, with a bloody visor, with short Pidcock relays. Resists at least the last attack from Belo Bilbao, sixth in the overall final. Pogacar, proud of the vanquished who does not give up, returns to the moon to tell Vingegaard that I am here, I will be here next year. “I’m back to normal again after this difficult week,” says the Slovenian who, fired by Adam, won a sprint stage that Vingegaard also wanted to win and who, unless he competes in a sprint against Philipsen on the Champs-Elysées, will finish the Tour without a photo raising his arms after winning a stage ahead of the Slovenian.
Vingegaard would climb to the top of the Champs-Elysées podium for the second year in a row with Pogacar, on his right, one step down. But the Tour de France will not end there. Away from Paris, in Clermont-Ferrand, at the foot of the Puy de Dôme that will not be climbed, the Ladies’ Tour begins on Sunday. Farewell to the incomparable heroine Animek van Vleuten who trained in Davos, where millionaires run the global economy, Mafi Garcia’s wrath, and finisher at the top of the Tourmalet on the first Sunday in August.