On the Barreal straight, between leafy trees, the record holder of the hour, Filippo Ganna, a locomotive by himself, but a high-speed one, throws his counterfoot. A kilometer launched. Strength and desire. So big, so fast, that Fernando Gaviria couldn’t wish for a better pitcher. The Colombian sprinter measures the distance, measures his strength, calculates the speed and launches at the Piedmontese giant at the right moment to be able to reach his wheel and clearly overtake him in the last meters. It is Gaviria’s first victory with the Movistar jersey. The ninth that he gets in the five Vueltas a San Juan that he has contested. None like him, who closes a drought of almost a year in Argentina, since he had not won since the Tour of Oman on February 22.
“I prepared very well all winter and today it happened. The team really behaved up to the mark, as they have been doing all week. We knew that this block was not as purely for rolling as other sprinters have, but that today’s profile favored our characteristics. The boys today were the best. The whole team worked for me. We looked for it, we deserved it and we got it ”, exclaimed the cyclist from La Ceja, who does not stop repeating that he knew which team he was coming to and that he would not have pitchers, but that he did not need them. “The mountain pass became very difficult; the heat has intensified in recent days and it was difficult for all of us, but we knew how to be patient, we were able to cross the pass together, we remained calm and we worked to the finish line to achieve this beautiful victory”.
By the way, thanks to the bonus, Gaviria is the new leader of a race that rests on Thursday and on Friday undertakes the queen stage, the climb to Alto Colorado, where Remco is expected. Cyclists are beings who live between dreams and memories, and always desire. Memory is the landscape. Before leaving for the mountains on old roads, Before leaving for the mountains on old roads, Óscar Sevilla, the oldest of all, talks about the roads of the Dauphiné, its always uncomfortable slopes, even without the appearance of it, of its asphalt that sticks to the wheels, loose gravel, and, I might add, entering through the Calingasta gate, route 149, the Alcázar hill of seven colors on your left, and, on your right, a river of mud and above the tops of the Andes, and some with snow that blends in with the clouds, Cerro Mercedario, so high, 6,720m, and from the top you can see the Pacific, Chile at your feet, which is like entering the Caisse Déserte, because the landscape is that of the Izoard, son of dust and erosion, the wind of the Alps. The memory of great races, says Sevilla, will whet the appetite of the greatest, of Egan Bernal, sure, warns his friend, that of Remco Evenepoel, perhaps, that some number will ride the climb to more than 2,000 meters from the viewpoint of Andacollo Grotto.
Egan moves, of course, he mixes with the cyclists from the teams of the municipalities of San Juan, the cyclists of the town. His move is fatal for Sam Bennett, the previous leader and winner of the first stage, and for Fabio Jakobsen, the smart sprinter, who stays behind. He has already said, he has warned, I will not work to climb better, because then I would lose speed. If there is a mountain, I stay. More stages will come. The one from Barreal, for Gaviria, who needs it.
The cyclist speaks and his sensitive soul may be overwhelmed by the landscape, the memory, and he feels closer to the farm laborers of the towns of the last kilometers, adobe houses, horses at the door, goats and garlic orchards and vineyards , their poverty, and they only had running water two years ago, or think of the miners in Veladero, up almost 5,000 meters, extracting gold for the Canadian bosses of the Barrick Gold Corporation who with their profits help organize the race . And perhaps they feel, their pride, their loneliness, like the aroma of Atahualpa Yupanqui, whom everyone envy for his wealth, his character, his strength, his beauty, and his sorrow rooted in the stone, and past the viewpoint and his vertiginous descent , Egan does not move anymore, none of the greats move. They don’t attack. They are peasants, miners, they work, they work hard, in solidarity, giving their wheel to each other, protecting themselves from the wind that burns in fans, class cyclists. Or is it the heat. It is not the Dauphiné, it is not the Tour, the greatness is the landscape, the cyclist continues in the peloton, disputes the sprint.
And the Movistar, miners, peasants, workers, amaze Gaviria. “They have given everything for me,” says the grateful Colombian, who was a little saddened when Egan left everyone speechless at the Virgen de Andacollo viewpoint, already at more than 2,000m, his habitat. “They believed in me more than myself.” Pablo Lastras, the team manager, had already told him, who is also amazed at the respect with which Gaviria, a sprinter, treats his teammates, how he leads them. “I already told him, ‘Fernando, we don’t have a train for arrivals, but we already know how to pull the car, we already know…”, says Lastras.
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