Sunday, September 26

from the Eiffel tower to Mount Fuji

  • With 234 kilometers, an ascent to Mount Fuji (kilometer 140) and the tough climb to the Mikuni Pass, 30 from the finish line, tomorrow the road cycling event will distribute the first medals in a competition of media depth with the heroes of the Tour.

Almost no time to assimilate that the Tour is over, sleeping one day with the image of the Eiffel Tower and waking up the next with Mount Fuji on the horizon, the same runners who saw each other’s faces, the numbers, who attacked each other and who suffered in the wake of Tadej pogacar, who did not want to miss the Olympic party either, they have transferred the cycling duel to Japanese soil to experience this Saturday (at 11:15 Spanish time the arrival of the race is scheduled) the first grand final of the Games, the first gold medal media to be delivered in Tokyo.

The heat, humidity and harshness will mark an incredible circuit, really hard, where surely it will not be necessary or attack, only resist, in front, of course, and the one who endures the longest will be the one who will hang the gold medal whose main candidates , with Pogacar on their heads, they traveled from Paris to Tokyo, keeping the number in their suitcase as a souvenir.

The 41 years of the boss

And it will be, above all, the occasion for Alejandro ValverdeAt the age of 41, he faced the fifth consecutive Games, an adventure that began in Athens 17 years ago to never miss the Olympic event, always as the Spanish leader apart from sharing the journey with former pedal stars, and that already have retired, like Samuel SΓ‘nchez (Olympic champion in Beijing 2008), Alberto counter, Carlos Tailor Y Oscar Freire. Undoubtedly, the representatives of the golden age, after Miguel Indurain, which will cost to repeat; any past time was better, even riding a bike.

TO Valverde, the survivor of that generation, an expert like few others in world championships, perhaps the race that most resembles the Olympic test (with a title in 2018, two silver medals and four bronze medals), the Games have always resisted him , in which he has not even obtained the consolation of a diploma: 47th in Athens; 13th in Beijing, although working for Sanchez; 18th in London and 30th in Rio. “He came with the extra point so that the Tour has left me, although I don’t know if four days of adaptation will have been few. But since we all come from Paris we will be in the same conditions.”

He will be the Spanish chief and for this he has, mainly, the help of a runner, who is a friend and one of his best gregarious, Gorka Izagirre, who next year will leave Astana to return to Movistar. Gorka understands, understands, encourages and even fights Valverde if necessary. And he obeys it without question. His brother Ion (who will then race the time trial), Omar friar Y Jesus Herrada they complete the Olympic quintet. All, except Gorka, have run the Tour.

An impossible control

The main difference with a World Cup is that a powerful team there can control the race since there are eight riders trying to monitor and coordinate the strategy of the event. In the Games there are only five. “Which complicates everything because I don’t know if there will be a team that wants to take command,” he explains. Valverde from Tokyo, while warning of the brutal climb (Mikuni Pass) that is 30 kilometers from the finish line. “They are 6.5 kilometers that never go below 11%. They are very hard,” he warns Valverde. “It’s like a little Mortirolo,” he adds. Ion Izagirre, “but we always have the ‘Bala’ to save the ballot”. “Indeed, it is a race that with five cyclists is very difficult to control, even if you have favorites like Pogacar or Van Aert in your team,” reiterates the Olympic coach Pascual Momparler.

The ballot is complicated because Pogacar He wants gold as does Wout van Aert, majestic in form, an expert in one-day races and who arrives in Japan after winning the last two stages of the Tour. Nothing less than to conquer the final time trial of the event and 24 hours later to sprint to victory on the Champs Elysees. And taking into account that with the Belgian team there is also another prodigy called Remco Evenepoel.

All this without forgetting Primoz Roglic, who once recovered from the injuries that made him say goodbye to the French round, has prepared thoroughly for the Games. And the oldest Slovenian is not used to failing when looking to victory. Because, furthermore, and unlike his young compatriot Pogacar OR Van aert, who have traveled with homework done to Japan, Roglic you need almost like the air that the gold medal breathes to start justifying the season. TO ValverdeInstead, whatever comes his way is a success for his career. And it must be remembered that in 2018 the Vuelta ended very exhausted and 15 days later he was proclaimed world champion in Innsbruck.

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