Sunday, June 26

On the day of the agony of the Tour de France, the protagonist can only be Mollema | sports

The commentator who shouts at the finish line is motivated and proclaims that the cyclists have ants on their legs, they want to move them, he says, and in reality he would want to say that, sad metamorphosis, they have the legs of ants marching in a single file, willing.

Or that they do not have legs, but a place in the brain called pain, like Nairo Quintana, who confesses that this Tour de France his legs hurt more than ever in his life, but they clarify, they hurt as always, only now that You are not the tremendous Nairo that you were when you were younger, you cannot bear the pain, and Nairo lowers his head when suitors escape to the polka dot jersey that he carries like a trophy to his past – ahead, two thirds and three seconds, points at stake -, and he does not fight to go on the run, he does not fight to defend his moles, which he loses (and now the Canadian Michael Woods is wearing them). The lion of Tunja cannot accompany his godson Sergio Higuita, the lion of Medellín, Monster, his other half the hardest day, cold and rain, of the Alps.

And it is not about the pain either, because watching them crawl, they are snails stuck to the burning ground, to the asphalt that melts in the Cathar country and, despite being watered to cool it, the gravel of the road is sticking to the wheels on the viaduct called the snail, which turns on itself in the Col de Saint Louis and, slowly, slowly, Bauke Mollema marches, which does not advance and pedales, as happens in ugly dreams.

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It is the day that the word agony finds its true meaning in the Tour de France, it is the day that pedaling is fighting against despair, it is believing. It is the day of the Dutchman Mollema, a classic, lover of agony since he was a child, when he went to school on a bicycle and looked for the hardest path, the dune, the channel, where the head wind would blow the strongest, and he He bent over and pulled out his hump, and he advanced and arrived, as 20 years later he advances along the banks of the Aude, from which it does not get a breeze but humidity, suffocating heat. And perhaps it is all an illusion, because Mollema, 34, who has escaped from the great escape 41 kilometers from the finish in Quillan, and also all those who pursue and never lower him for a second, really advances, and He wins the 14th stage, one of those that everyone calls terrible wear and tear, and the day before Andorra, at 43 on average.

The day of the agony is the day of Guillaume Martin, the cyclist who studied philosophy and writes philosophy books, and reflects on his craft and the value of cycling champions, and knows what the pod is about. Although it is less than 10 minutes in the general, they allow him to go on the escape, which started very late, at kilometer 100, after an explosive start to the stage when leaving Carcassonne towards the south, where the Pyrenees already breathe. The UAE of Tadej Pogacar, always smiling in yellow, gives him five minutes, and does not worry those who think about being second, despite the fact that one more client slips in, and Martin is now second, at 4m 4s, a minute ahead of the other supporters, who don’t go crazy. “A leak like this is going to take its toll, surely,” says Enric Mas, one of them. “He will have spent much more than those of us in the peloton.” And Martin himself, who knows more than they about how he feels, agrees with them when he wants to calm the ardor of the French, who already see him up there until the end. “No, no,” says the Norman climber. “I don’t think about the general. I just want to feel free to take risks every day.

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There is no cyclist who does not know Andorra, a best seller in the peloton, a trending topic always, the very long and stretched Envalira that climbs linked to the Puymorens –more than 30 kilometers to 2,408 meters, the cusp of the Tour– or the short and very steep Baixalís from which we descend fast on Sunday to the finish line of Andorra la Vella- Well, at least 50 of the riders on the Tour live and train in the Principality, but perhaps none are so happy that the four stages of the long journey of the Pyrenees begin there like the leader Pogacar, who there, two years ago, In the Vuelta, he achieved his first victory in a great round and on the day of Marc Soler’s disobedience and the hail after the descent of La Gallina, he revealed himself to the world as a great at the age of 20. “And, on top of that, my girlfriend, Urska, was there and I was very excited,” says the Slovenian in a rare rapture of letting go of an intimacy (Urska is also a cyclist, and during the last Tour, the first thing he did at the end of each stage Pogacar was to ask how his girlfriend had fared in the Giro d’Italia, in which he fought every day to avoid getting out of control: has she been saved?). “I am tired but I think that is what the whole squad says. I’m ready”.

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