Zana denies Pinot his last wish, to win a stage of the Giro d’Italia | Sports

Roglic and Thomas, on the final climb, followed by Portuguese fans who preceded Almeida.
Roglic and Thomas, on the final climb, followed by Portuguese fans who preceded Almeida.Fabio Ferrari/LaPresse (AP)

He launches the Pinot sprint, accelerated, anxious, wrong, and Zana, the national champion’s tricolor jersey, goes up behind him. The Italian journalists break into resounding applause while the RAI commentator, almost speechless, clinches, “a resounding triumph”, shouts in high pitch. A little less than two minutes later, Roglic and Thomas arrive, in pink, who have reached an agreement and have gotten rid of a few kilometers from the dangerous Almeida, who reaches 20s. No offense of any favorite has achieved an advantage of more than 25s in the first 18 stages, and none has arrived alone. Three pairs and in all three, as in an incomplete matching game, Thomas with all of them. Thomas arrived with Roglic in Fossombrone, where Almeida and Evenepoel gave way. Almeida with Thomas in the Bondone, and the Slovenian later; and Roglic with Thomas in Palafavera, in Val di Zoldo, Lower Dolomites, 1,518 meters. After this kind of musical variations, and leaks, Thomas leads with 29s over the Slovenian and 39s over the Portuguese. The Giro has two hard days left. Equality is shocking.

Neither sad nor epic nor legendary nor beautiful, resounding is the adjective of the Giro, of this and of all, as is Italy. Any noise is an earthquake, any event – a fall, a covid, a faint, a cut stage, a snowfall, a smoked stage, gifts from jerseys roses, apocalyptic chains of mountains in the last days, clamorous abandonment-, are for 24 hours announcements of the end of the world, and the next day passed as remote as the memory of Eddy Merckx in the Three Peaks of Lavaredo, 55 years ago, and so thunderous its thunderous noise is the silence with which Geraint Thomas answers the question with which the spirited journalist from the Gazzetta dello Sport examine the jersey pink. “Do you know the cycling history of the Three Peaks of Lavaredo, the snow, Merckx, Nibali?” asks the journalist, pronouncing the proper names as if pronouncing the name of God, with as much veneration, at least, assuming that the Welshman, an old man (this Thursday the 25th he turns 37 and they give him a pink cake) Tour winner would immediately fall on his knees in adoration. “As? What are you talking about? Tre Cime… what is it?” Thomas replies, however. “Ah, about the stage on Friday… I have no idea. I’ll have to look it up on YouTube.”

The discouraging conversation for cycling people who believe that the same mythical feeling beats in their heroes occurs on the eve of the start of the Giro in the wild Dolomites of Belluno, the city of Buzzati where nothing happens, only the river Piave on a wide bed of stones. In Val di Zoldo they speak the ladino that the Latino soldiers brought with them and there are towns called Dont, where the gospel of ice cream was born and its ice cream makers spread it throughout the world, or Coi, and this is a short and vertical mountain pass , narrow road, old, cracked asphalt, in which, 1,500m from the top, Roglic attacks after his beloved Kuss has maintained a hard pace for several kilometers. Thomas goes easy with the Slovenian; Almeida stays and chases, helped by his partner Vine. It passes 10s of the great couple, happy to collaborate, leaving their heads up for the high Dolomites, the Three Summits (2,304 meters, almost three kilometers of ascent at 13% above 2,000 meters of altitude, where oxygen flies , so light), after the harsh Giau, and the announced rain, or, chisa, for the final time trial, where each one will go up looking inside and not into the eyes (the dark glasses) of the rival. After a small descent, in which his Vine went off in a curve and disturbed him, Almeida started the final short climb alone, finding strength in a big curve in the resounding support of Portuguese with flags that deafened him with their shouts.

The sun shines. splendid day. Festive cycling. Three friends. After shaking hands with Almeida, jersey best young white, Roglic, who does not have to go through the podium, turns around and goes down to the bus, parked at the bottom of the rise. Thomas and Almeida, at the finish line, do a fatiguing roller, 10 minutes, and talk. Almeida congratulates the Welshman on his birthday and Thomas tells him, at this age I should be at the beach now, like a good retiree, but I have fun running. “My legs are very good, more or less like when I won the Tour,” he says later, more serious. But I have to keep doing what I do. [corriendo al milímetro]. The most terrible day of my career has already arrived.

In front of the three who can win the Giro, after 150 kilometers in the break, Zana – tall, 1.85m, only 24 years old and already running his fourth Giro, all finished, and was third in the 2021 Tour of the Future, behind Carlos Rodríguez, and lover of horses, is the messenger sent by destiny to deny Pinot, 32, his last wish. jersey blue of the best climber, who, a few months ago, when announcing his retirement from cycling, declared that he only needed to win a stage in the Giro to be happy. “You have to take the opportunity when it comes, because you never know if you will have it again”, says the young Zana, as if sadly Pinot, already defeated by Einer Rubio another day on the run, did not know. “Something like that happens few things in life.”

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