O Gran Camiño: For Jonas Vingegaard, the road begins in Santiago | Sports

Going against the pilgrims who become wise by walking, Jonas Vingegaard will begin his route to the Champs Elysees where everyone ends it, in the Plaza del Obradoiro in Santiago. The Danish cyclist will run only four stage tests, 27 days of competition, before starting the Tour on July 1 in Bilbao with the winner’s number 1 bib in 2022. Three of them, Paris-Nice, in March, the Vuelta to the Basque Country, in April, and the Dauphiné, in June, have the attraction of their historical value, their importance, the rivals they will meet, with Tadej Pogacar in Nice, with Enric Mas in Itzulia, with Egan Bernal, perhaps, in the Dauphiné. The fourth, which is the first to be disputed – from today, Thursday the 23rd, until Sunday – has the sex appeal of the mysterious, of the unknown and misty, and its rituals and conflicts. It is O Gran Camiño, in Galicia, of course. From Lugo to Santiago along four roads that fork and come together at the cathedral, as cyclists who think of the Tour follow different and confluent routes.

The Galician route, which celebrates its second edition this year –and in the first Alejandro Valverde achieved his last professional victory–, is the daughter of Ezequiel Mosquera, a romantic ex-cyclist, one could say, melancholic and a bit of a mythomaniac of the Lord of the Rings for whom Galicia, his land, is the true Middle Earth, hard, bucolic and magical like the clouds that sprout from the grass and hide the eucalyptus trees, their legends, and good living, and he is a Celtic elf, Legolas, green leaf , precisely. When he started cycling, when he was older, Mosquera went out to train after leaving the saw at the family sawmill, and he worked so carefully that he still has 10 fingers, a complete symbol, and on the handlebars of the bicycle instead of a odometer dangled a compass. And when his groupmates saw him arrive oriented like this, they trembled, because they knew that he would end up leading them through mountains and unknown paths, that they would get lost, that they would spend six, seven hours and they would not know where they would end up, or how, only with the compass to orient themselves. , without GPS or Google Maps, which did not exist. Now Mosquera wants Vingegaard to get lost on those paths, a Viking elf with light eyes and a pale complexion, the most melancholic of cycling champions, the only one who refuses to stop living in his town, Glyngore, 1,200 inhabitants on the Danish north coast , his roots, far from so many runners who seek tax benefits and a gregarious life in Andorra and Monaco. He does not give a second of his life to the cultivation of fame and only goes away from home to compete and to immerse himself in the disciplined and highly structured team life in the Jumbo during their repeated concentrations in Tenerife, at more than 2,000 meters, in the Parador de las Cañadas del Teide, between races, and an apartment in Malaga for his wife and daughter in the winter, so dark near the Arctic Circle.

Vingegaard leads a monastic and controlled life, monotonous like everyone else’s, who finds his vanishing point on the road, in the Galician countryside, where the sun never shines, where even snow and ice are expected, today in Lugo, without a straight line. , a race attached to the land and the culture that emanates from it, and the religion and the people that inhabited it, nothing to do with the pasteurized races at the beginning of the season in uninhabited territories, such as the Arabian peninsula, through which he never rode a bike, desert, wind and blistering heat, near-virtual cycling, from Zwift at home. Mosquera’s economic calculation, and also that of Pascual Momparler, the inventor of the Clásica de Jaén and its olive trees, is secondary to the desire to give another meaning to cycling.

The path to Lugo starts from the walkway of the Roman walls, where the people of Lugo measure the steps of their walks on their mobile phones, and ends in Sarria, not far as the crow flies, but with the detours that it takes, and the passage through Incio and its marble Romanesque church and its thousand slopes, reaches up to 188 kilometers. The second stage, that of Pontevedra, on Friday, ends with a Stations of the Cross on Mount Trega, where the hermitage of Santa Tecla (in Spanish, Trega in Galician) of Iconio, in Anatolia, a martyr and friend of Pablo de Tarso, near To Guarda, the great viewpoint from where you can see the Miño dying in the sea, where the sailors lit a Facho (a bonfire) as a lighthouse and where the archaeologist Mergelina excavated a large Galician castro. The third, in Ourense, travels to the scars of the great fire in Valdeorras, up to the Alto do Castelo de Rubiá, the end of the queen stage. The last one, a time trial to the cathedral of Santiago.

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