Whoever reasons always says that the last time trial of a Tour de France only serves to review the fatigue with which the protagonists end, and exhibits the image of Wout van Aert, fresh as a lettuce in Saint Émilion, where the Belgian has won , short sleeve of a vacationer on the terrace at sunset and a very cold white in the glass, and contrasts it with that of Tadej Pogacar, heated as a gendarmerie sit-in condemned to guard a crossing in the sun hour after hour, devouring bottles of water in the finish line, long sleeves, skier gloves, embossed yellow jersey, and he is so thirsty that he even prefers to waste a few seconds during the time trial, take out the minimum bottle of water from the hidden box and drink and drink, and refresh his dry mouth, and stop pedaling a few meters, rather than perish.
For those who dream and do not admit that the end of the Tour already leaves everything written, and that there is not one more chapter, please, the last time trial is always a amuse bouche, an aperitif, a prologue to the next Tour, the cycling to come, and Pogacar’s sunny exhaustion between the vineyards of Pomerol, Néac, Lussac and the Grand Château de Corbin Despagne, and the breeze that burns and bothers, his face so white invaded for the red shrimp of English tourists who do not know what the sun is and only drink pints on the terraces without an umbrella, they can only conclude that the devastating Slovenian is human because he gets tired, like God, who also took a day off during its creation. When nature mixes up, rebels and reveals that no one, not even Pogacar, is a robot, even if it seems like it, nor the data, the watts, the position and the sense of the relief of the fabrics are not worth more than to console oneself, to think it could have been worse.
The Slovenian, who tends to dunk his watts above those of his roommate Mikkel Bjerg with a small percentage improvement, not only did not win or finish in the top three after the 30.8 kilometers of hawk saturation, he finished eighth, 5s slower than its Bjerg reference. “That’s how tired I ended up,” he says, “of a Tour in which from the first stage he has run at full speed every day.” And not even his legendary pelvic flexibility that allows him to bend and not force his hamstrings at moments of maximum speed, makes a difference. There is a generation of specialists in the bending of its body, the Castroviejo model, who, from behind the high fences, often only see a flat hull pass against the ground, crawling like flounder on the sandy bottom of the sea.
There is a game, the dreamers dream, as they once wanted to dream that Abraham Olano, winner of the 1997 Tour time trial in Disneyland, was an announcement of a greatness that did not come in 98; as it was learned that Miguel Indurain would win gold at the Atlanta 96 Games for how he finished second in the last time trial of his last Tour, the sixth he did not win. The references of the past do not matter at all for those who want sport to be only illusion and feelings. Only what comes is worth. And not only will Van Aert, the total cyclist, winner in the Ventoux, winner of the time trial, winner, the past three-stage fan and sprint tours, but also his Jumbo partner Jonas Vingegaard, who so well has led, a replacement leader after the abandonment of Primoz Roglic with a fabulous gregarious.
In Vingegaard everything seems like a trompe l’oeil of lightness, not much, like his deceptively skinny little arms as they strengthened years wielding axes and saws to shred fish in the North Jutland fish paste factory where he went to work at dawn as Vittorio Adorni , a great from the past, got up early to grind durum wheat at the Barilla spaghetti factory in Parma. “And since I got up so early, the only thing I wanted to go out was to get on the bike and go to train for four, five hours every day,” says 24-year-old Vingegaard, while between sentences he fills his voracious mouth with pasta Cold, the meal of the day, a couple of hours after warming up in an arctic environment of ramshackle fishmongering, ice cream, with his ice vest, while, next to him, Pogacar eats the sun without protection. “And with hard work and training I became so strong, so resilient.”
After Pogacar, Van Aert has been the most impressive cyclist on the Tour (Van der Poel does not count, he retired after the week), and he is excited like the dreamers with arriving one day to dispute the final victory of the Tour. “That fight will be very difficult, but before starting it I want to achieve all my goals, win the great flamenco classics and others,” he says, and everyone knows, that more than filling the track record, he is motivated by his pulses with Van der Poel. “And when I get tired of classics I will start the transformation of the body that makes me a better climber.”
After Pogacar, Vingegaard was the toughest on the mountain and in the time trial, but he finished the Tour more than five minutes behind the Slovenian, exterminating angel on rainy days in the Alps. “I’m not kidding myself,” says the Dane. “I know that Pogacar has not competed in the time trial because he already had the Tour won, but I finished so strong that this day gives me faith for the future. I can tell myself that it is not unbeatable ”.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.