They had barely passed 30 kilometers of a hellish stage when suddenly a blue bike without an owner appeared in the middle of the road. “Fall of Mas!” Announced ‘Radio Tour’. Alarm! Enric Mas appeared bent over, aching in his hip.
And immediately the screams of Alejandro Valverde could be heard , a touch of experience, like the father who tells his son injured with scratches on his knees that he has been nothing, to keep running, go ahead, go ahead, don’t waste time.
Valverde takes control. Calm must be keeped. They are both of the same height, identical bike size, same pedals, same saddle. ‘El Bala’ pushes the Mallorcan cyclist, who gets on his bike with his raincoat torn. Due to a fall Primoz Roglic has gone home and by another accident Geraint Thomas has become a gregarious of Richard Carapaz .
More lucky that the gregarious are still around. They are summoned immediately. Everyone listens to the orders given by José Luis Arrieta on the Movistar station. Those who are a little off the hook sprint and those who are in Tadej Pogacar’s platoon lag behind , while they give Valverde a spare bicycle , who takes the next few moments as if he were making one of his great attacks in order to get what as soon as possible next to Mas. Y
ou have to talk to him, you have to encourage him, that he forget about the blow he’s wearing and that he immediately go to the Tour doctor’s car so that he can put ice on it to calm the pain, the whole stage remains, an apocalyptic day in the Alps, that the summer seems to punish France, who only need the snow to ski in Tignes, where the ninth stage ends, won by the Australian Ben O’Conno r alone, to the point of placing second overall and swiping for a few kilometers the Pogacar yellow . “I was aware, I lost the yellow jersey but I did not want to give it up because I like I like to wear it,” justifies the Tour leader.
“He has a good shot,” they say in the Movistar team when asked about the Mallorcan’s physical condition. And it is that only a week has passed, that everything remains and Mas , Pogacar on the sidelines, is still immersed in his goal, the podium of the Champs Elysees. He’s only 29 seconds away from the challenge. It would be dramatic if a fall sent him home.
Pogacar, in short sleeve
It has been a long time since you saw suffering so much and so many in one stage. Riders stop to put on dry clothes and especially winter gloves, which cannot be lost with the handlebars. Cold faces, nobody enjoys riding the bike. No one?
They all wear long sleeves, as if they were training in the middle of February. Everyone? Pogacar , no; he, in short sleeves, with the summer yellow as if he were pedaling along the coast and as if the stage took place in a real July, those of a lifetime.
Because, in addition, it rains and there are times when it does it with anger. Julian Alaphilippe leaves the leak. He prefers to wait for his team car, to be given clothes and a warm drink. The mechanic acts as a masseur and with a towel dries the wet legs of the world champion. It is more important to reach the goal than to fight for victory.
Valverde’s master takes effect . But he forgets the wounds of war. He knows that in the last kilometers of the long climb to Tignes Carapaz will attack , because he wants to get closer to the podium and because Ineos is looking forward to Movistar.
Carapaz attack! What does Pogacar do ? Go get him! And for the Ecuadorian runner, the Slovenian throws himself with such fury that he finds himself alone again, with no one to follow him. Hala, to the goal and in short sleeves.
But it is already in its sauce. Captured Carapaz is the moment to launch the first attack in this Tour that only serves to take all his opponents to the wheel in the fight for the podium. But a picture that shows that cyclists have iron bones and that although yellow is as difficult as climbing Everest by bike, there are still many things to tell on this Tour that this Monday will rest before facing the route to Provence to climb on Wednesday twice at Ventoux.