When they rebuilt San Juan, a geometric, Roman grid, after the destructive earthquake of 1944 and paved the streets, the people of San Juan grabbed their skates, billiard balls, and broomsticks and hit hockey like crazy, like they come to their streets like crazy, to the windswept grid, and the summer sun still burning, and they make chaos between potholes and bankruptcies, the cyclists, at 60 an hour, flying, and many fall like bowling pins in a lurch; others, a few kilometers ahead, less than two from the finish line, take the wrong lane on the avenue divided by a median; the Dutch Fabio Jakobsen loses, the Colombian Fernando Gaviria, too, and Sam Bennet, the third of the holy trinity of the sprint, wins on the line drawn in front of the Aldo Cantoni stadium, the world cathedral of roller hockey, where so many World Cups have been held. played, six, the temple of José Luis Páez, the largest. And for him it is like the Champs Elysées, where he won in green in the Tour of 20. Second was Jakobsen’s pitcher, Morkov, and third, Nizzolo. Further back, a Russian colossus, Syritsa, and many celebrities, Sagan, Viviani, Gaviria…
And a world champion, precisely, the Belgian Remco Evenepoel, makes his rainbow shine as promised, from locomotive to 70 at the head of the peloton for three kilometers, five minutes of effort and it’s worth it.
This is the Tour of San Juan, great cycling relocated to territories with tradition but not champions, but local teams -Chimbas I love you, Virgen de Fátima, Municipality of Pocitos, Municipality of Rawson, cycling is the people’s sport too-, a priest who blesses everyone at the start, inventing a Virgin at the ceremony, Our Lady of the Bicycle, whom he declares patron saint of cyclists and, at sunset, spectators with the thermos of mate under their left armpit, the bowl of mate in the right and the bulb in the mouth.
And among them, a little moral tale. Jakobsen, who nearly died in a crash two years later, and already considered the best sprinter in the world, declares himself “older, stronger and a little bit wiser”, and remembers how when he arrived in the peloton, both Bennett and Gaviria were the winners, and that the motivation to defeat them guided their recovery. His promotion meant the departure of the Quick Step of his two idols. First, the Colombian; then the Irish. And only reigned in that team, now called Soudal, the Dutchman, and his team controls the stage, round trip along a motorway, wind and vineyards, eternal straight lines, and nobody thinks that he won’t win because, that’s cycling, one of the laws of the peloton is that whoever leaves the Quick Step does not win again. Now in Bora, Bennett, the Irishman who won the second stage of the last Vuelta, won again. He broke a law and once again demonstrated that in cycling, in sport, the only law that is dogma is that of his unpredictability, his strength. “The feeling from the first sprint of the season is that they are always tough and very nervous. The first is always the most dangerous and that’s why sometimes you don’t get the result you want”, explains the 32-year-old Irishman, who already won in San Juan in 2019, with the Quick Step, of course, and with Morkov as a pitcher. “I have had some excellent sensations.”
You can follow EL PAÍS Sports on Facebook Y Twitteror sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.