All the stories and tragedies that make cycling the most terrifying human sport intersect in the Vosges, where the pride of defeated Tadej Pogacar earns a sprint stage win over Jonas Vingegaard in untouchable yellow.
Steep, narrow and shady roads, cool as in Asturias or Oriente Antioquia, old mountains, folded plates, outcropping magma, worn granite, round like hot air balloons and flowery like the Ballon d’Alsace, the first mountain pass the Tour dared, in 1905, the Mount of Destiny, and the first to reach it, two years in a row, was René Pottier, who started the Tour in 1906 and a few months later in Winter, he approached his team headquarters on the outskirts of Paris one morning, took his bicycle hanging from the ceiling, attached a rope to the same hook, tied a knot and hung on to his death. He left neither a suicide note nor his wife, who was four months pregnant. “Sadness of love”, said his brother André, to explain it, to deceive himself not to admit that the obligation to be a hero was too much for the sensibility of his champion brother, the need to be what he did not want to be, the lion on the emblem of his Peugeot motorcycle, the lion of Belfort and to his huge stone feet the penultimate stage of the Tour of 23 was born, the last adventure in the mountains of the boy from the region, Thibaut Pi not, who felt no obligation to win the He loved the Tour and his life as a farmer and proclaimed: “Thank heavens I didn’t win the Tour; Winning it would have changed my life in a way I wouldn’t have liked,” and because he is that, he’s the most popular cyclist.
In the Vosges, at Piedra Gorda, the third stage of the Perseids, a rain of climbs to brave the night starry shower and the fireworks they ignite, the last hand in hand, Tadej Pogacar, always in white, and Jonas Vingegaard, in permanent yellow, Pinot approaches the escape where Ciccone collects red polka dots for his suit, empties himself with it, with illustrious breakaways and celebrated by the fans the clouds of blue and yellow smoke screaming for joy, au revoir, les enfants. Goodbye folks, goodbye to the tour, make others bleed. In the Vosges, on the second climb, the Cross of Moirat, Mikel Landa, who chooses not to win to be himself, attacks with his hands on the handlebars, melancholic, tired. Lasts for some time. it’s country It wasn’t his tour. And even in a fleeting shot one sees the Colombians, the magical realism in an Atlantic forest, Egan mourning the tour of his return and working on the tour of the future; Harold Tejada, the Andean country’s top performer, changes his Astana jersey.
⏪ He said he was going to win and he just went and did it! @TamauPogi gets the penultimate stage after a very fast final KM ⤵️
—Tour de France™ (@LeTour) July 22, 2023
The Alsace ball, the first mountain of the day, short and fiery, fate chose tragedy for Luis Ocaña in 1969, undying glory for Eddy Merckx, the first cyclist on the moon. In the same spot where the cannibal wears his first yellow jersey, the cyclist from Priego hits himself on the descent, falls on his face, breaks his mouth, can’t eat, only drinks through a straw, Perurena puts her hand on his shoulder and encourages him. Merckx ended up winning five tours; Ocaña fell and bled again trying to win one, and only won that one when Merckx wouldn’t let him go. He shot himself 20 years later.
In the same place, same curve of the descent of the Alsace ball, Carlos Rodríguez falls, not breaking his mouth. He inflicts a wound on his perfect forehead bone, maybe his glasses, and blood runs down his cheeks and left arm. The boy from Almuñécar fights wounded. It’s not Ocana. He doesn’t believe that fate is written. He wants to write his destiny at the wheel of a wild Adam Yates with his ally brother and with his UAE gang, the ones from Pogacar, that Marc Soler pulls hard, head up, head down. They chase the victory of honor, they pursue Pinot beyond the gorge pass, on the Kleiner Ball. 1,163 meters, where only the boy from the village went, and it connects without a break, easy seesaw, direct connection with the last climb of the tour, the Platzerwasel.
It’s a shower of stars on a July night, it’s a shower. Au revoir Pinot, au revoir la souffrance. It’s Pogacar who attacks six kilometers from the front and it’s Vingegaard who responds. They are the Yates brothers who start a symmetrical tour together, three weeks ago in Bilbao, the first day, the same scene. They work together. Brotherly love, like hate, is stronger than reason. One of them, Adam, wants to secure his third place. The other, the older brother, seeks and finds fourth place, held by Carlos Rodríguez with pins, with his teeth, with a bloody eyebrow, with Pidcock’s short relays. It at least withstands the final attack of Pello Bilbao, sixth in the overall final. Pogacar, proud of the vanquished who does not give up, returns to the moon to tell Vingegaard that I am here and I will be here next year. “I’m myself again after such a tough week,” says the Slovenian, who, created by Adam, wins the sprint stage that Vingegaard also wanted to win, who, unless he rivals Philipsen in the sprint on the Champs-Élysées, will finish the Tour without a photo, raising his arms after winning a stage ahead of the Slovenian.
Vingegaard will be at the top of the Champs-Élysées podium for the second year in a row, while Pogacar is a step down to his right. But that’s not the end of the Tour de France. Far away from Paris, in Clermont Ferrand, at the foot of the Puy de Dôme, which will not be climbed, the women’s tour begins on Sunday. Farewell to the incomparable champion Annemiek van Vleuten, who trains in Davos where millionaires run the world economy, the wrath of Mavi García and a finish at the top of the Tourmalet on the first Sunday of August.
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