Sunday, June 26

The Tour de France, pending the last great offensive

  • Austrian Patrick Konrad wins at Saint Gaudens, arriving alone.

  • The favorites are reserved for the fear of the cold in the cycling battles of the Portet and Luz Ardiden.

The Envalira tunnel was clogged by accredited Tour cars. But nobody arrived late to Pas de la Casa, to the appointment with a cold and rainy stage, as he likes Tadej pogacar. The weather is not normal. It was not normal for cyclists in coaches, before leaving, to look on their mobile phones at the images that arrived with a Tourmalet, which is going up tomorrow, painted white. It had snowed. Seeing is believing.

And it was also not usual that on the long descent neutralized by Puymorens the runners were dressed in winter and had to stop to remove their excess clothing before they Christian prudhomme, the Tour director, lowered the flag that opened the way to a battle between the favorites that only emerged minimally on the small climb that was five kilometers from the Saint Gaudens finish line.

Fear, so clear; fear of the cold, panic of a fall in the Portet d’Aspet, the most difficult port of those that were programmed; the descent where the Italian’s bike went Sonny colbrelli, a sprinter who is not bad at the mountain, a bicycle that he carried with the colors of Italy, and not because he was the cycling champion of his country, but in honor of the ‘azzurra’, winner of the Eurocup in the universe of football. Everyone remembered that three years ago, on the same descent, Philippe Gilbert he plunged into the void and survived because it wasn’t his cursed day. And they all passed by the monument that remembers that on July 8, 1995, Fabio Casartelli, who had been Olympic champion in Barcelona 1992, killed himself by falling and opening his head when no one was wearing a protective helmet.

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Konrad, solo

The escape was only trying to capture Patrick Konrad, the Austrian champion determined to continue the trend of this Tour that indicates that all stages, except those marked for a sprint, have to be won by a solo cyclist.

Behind, caution, calm and even a certain peace, with all the Emirates team riders, without anyone daring to cough Pogacar. Because it always only happens the same after a day of rest and before the stages destined, regardless of what happened previously, to be the most decisive of the race, reserved for the third week to keep the excitement almost at the gates of Paris. A few train more than necessary on the Sabbath so as not to lose their form and leave prepared for the next stage to catch or provoke the escape. The rest remain in the rear, pending the bad weather that is announced this Wednesday on the route to El Portet, where they won Nairo quintana, in 2018, the first time that the mountain was climbed so high that it rises over the town of Saint Lary.

With jacket and coat

Konrad he wins in Saint Gaudens with the neighbors with jackets and even with a coat. He is one of the Bora team, who does not look like others at the podium where not everyone fits, and who only cares about winning stages once his great figure, who next year leaves them, Peter sagan, left the race with a hurt knee.

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The weather that is advertised in the Portet is frightening with its 16 kilometers of climb to the brutal average of 8.7%. And everyone also knows that the race can be complicated on the ascent to Val Louron, a mountain that will always have a fond memory, because it was there 30 years ago Miguel Indurain he dressed in yellow for the first time, the day he crossed the Pyrenean goal in second place behind Claudio Chiappucci. It all began there, an unforgettable time began there.

Be with another pampered getaway, because Emirates does not care who escapes as long as it is not one of those who is between five and seven minutes away. Pogacar, or with the leaders of the general, today a single man will arrive at the Portet to magnify a huge mountain, a very hard climb, a real stage reaching the top and not ending after a descent or a flat as has happened until now if Except for the cold road to Tignes.

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