In the Langhe, province of Cuneo, where the Piedmont Alps already loom, pigs find truffles, the clever make chocolate with hazelnut cream, partisans fight against invading armies and the arte povera responds to an inexplicable world by confronting a naked neoclassical Venus with a bunch of rags, a historical responsibility that Nico Denz, a German, “hard and beautiful pedalatore”, they say on RAI, he assumes with lucidity and precision. A flight of 30, inevitably at odds — testosterone rules, the wise explain: everyone in a group collaborates with each other until they believe survival is assured; then, everyone’s desire to proclaim themselves alpha male causes them to fight each other—, breaks apart alone in a waterlogged roundabout. Blows on the forehead of those who do not even know that the stage is leaving them. Endless acceleration of a few. Six to go, then three. A hard wooded port. In the last straight line, in Rivoli, very strong, Denz takes Skujins and Berwick out of the wheel, the two who have endured him until the end, and achieves, at the age of 29, in his sixth Giro and on his umpteenth attempt, his first victory.
Behind, calm, the peloton let go without complaining, and grateful for the first smooth day of the sad Giro, for the calm Ineos, with Sivakov, the day after his fall, already pulling tirelessly. They are not worried about the irremediable, the fall of their companion and Tao leader Geoghegan Hart, to whom the surgeons in Genoa, from eight in the evening until midnight, repaired as best they could his shattered left femur at the level of the trochanter, where it joins and rotates with the pelvis. Given the severity of his injuries, Tao, 28, will not be the same for another year or so. The survivors, men of cycling, think of the next day, in the first great alpine mountain that awaits them in Switzerland, with the passage through the Great Saint Bernard truncated by snow – it will not be possible to climb up to 2,469 meters from its summit, Rather, it will be cut through the tunnel located at 1,818m, shortening the climb by 10 kilometers, which is no longer Cima Coppi, leaving the honor that points to the highest at 2,304m of the Three Peaks of Lavaredo, the end of the dolomitic plug. next Friday—but with the terrible ascent of the Croix de Coeur (2,174m), in Verbier where Alberto Contador sealed his victory in the 2009 Tour, and, after a treacherous, cold, windy and rainy valley of 25 kilometers, the high arrival at the Crans Montana station (1,456m).
“It will be an interesting day,” says Geraint Thomas, always in pink. “It will be a great test, the first big mountain stage, one of the three hardest days.” The fan, who always thinks of yesterday, perhaps more than anything, and anticipates the pleasure of the next day, misses attacking characters in the Giro, Colombians without fear and love for heights, like Egan Bernal who year and a half later from his accident he is still fighting to be great again. He will be satisfied with discovering not so much what Ineos will do – even though he has won a Tour and in Alpe d’Huez and in La Rosière, the Welshman, Olympic champion in the velodrome, does not love in the mountains but to go up in pace – before the possible offensive of Primoz Roglic’s Jumbo, the great rival, second overall, only 2s behind.
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