Far from Mende, Pogacar simulates a Jalabert it interrupts the yawns, the coffees choke, and Vingaard’s pulse quickens. It’s a second. It has just struck 12 o’clock, there are still 180 kilometers to go. Instantly the tachycardia stops, yawning returns, leakage sets in, Luisle and Soler among the 23, the cyclists cool off as best they can. In Mende, on the yellow carpet of the track, the Jalabert Jalabert The best of the breakaway, Michael Matthews, a 31-year-old sprinter who breaks away and climbs – the Australian has already demonstrated this by winning in Montecassino in the Giro 2014, a similar end – and descends and accelerates to airfield does it spectacularly.. to win, and at the finish line she says her four-year-old daughter already knows why she rides a bike.
Twelve minutes later, on the same track, Pogacar tries a Indurain, who celebrates his birthday this July 17 (58 already) and in Mende 95, suffered in front of the real Jalabert and was resuscitated. The Slovenian, an explosive volcano with slopes cut out for him, turns into a beautiful tandem, white-yellow, two hearts, two bikes, a single rhythm, his expected duel with the effusive Vingaard, glued to his wheel as glued by magma sticky . The world, the rest of the Tour, far away, another galaxy, a universe of survivors. Enric Mas fights there, giving seconds to a few – Gaudu, Nairo, Thomas, Yates – and keeping the pulse on Bardet.
The Tour accelerates towards the Pyrenees through Occitania, France where the earth is burning and the wind is blowing from Africa, endless slopes, coarse-grained asphalt. The din of the pedals splashes the t-shirts.
Moral highs and lows, life, despair, joy, determine muscle contractions and hormonal response, or maybe it’s the other way around, and the two Tadej Pogacar, his own crazy heart and his hollow legs on Wednesday, go up to Granon, like Jonas Vingaard, and a reluctant departure on Saturday, could say one thing and its opposite.
The day begins with the memory of an infamy that affected the essence of cycling, a velodrome, and an art of living that was ending, the memory of the 80th anniversary of the Vel d’Hiv roundup, Vélodrome d’Hiver de Paris , rue Grenelle, along the Seine, where Nazi troops imprisoned 13,000 Jews between July 16 and 22, 1942 before deporting them to the Auschwitz extermination camps. From the memory of the tragedy that forever darkened the temple of pleasure and the Six Days, champagne and vaudeville parties, and round-the-clock scoring, elimination and Madison competitions, and left cycling touched, the peloton jumps , nothing, a five-kilometre stage from the start of Saint Etienne, to Firminy, a town of 18,000 inhabitants, where the soul is calm and rejoiced, and appreciates its ability to appreciate beauty, passing in front of the church of Saint -Pierre, the athletics stadium and the house of culture, a concrete that looks like plastic, so well modeled by Le Corbusier. Matter becomes pure form, and light is transcended, the city, dead after the closure of the mines and the steelworks, is reborn, and, coincidence or not, the police believe that coincidences do not exist, Pogacar’s legs feel there, precisely, an explosion of euphoria which leads him to accelerate the slope of San Justo, which begins there. His movement, his unexpected attack, a burst of joy, a warning, takes Vingaard off balance, who takes a long time to react, and time is suspended for a few minutes, until the Danish leader does not return. But his Roglic stays for a while.
It’s not a spark that blows up a powder keg, the euphoria is consumed and leaves no sequels, even if it shows signs. “It was about putting pressure on him from the start,” says Pogacar. “To scare him.” And so I will continue for the rest of the Tour”. Roglic returns. The pulsations calm down. Tran tran del Jumbo, pedalo between black pines and deep, steep-sided rivers, where shadows live. In a roundabout, ugly, like the Spaniards, the homage to the green lentil, the queen of the place, half a dozen monstrosities representing crowned lentils seated on thrones give vertigo to those who look at them while turning around . The jumbos fall one by one. Roglic can’t take it anymore. At the bottom of the final slope, Vingaard is alone.
The ancients were suspicious of bursts of euphoria, which they considered an unequivocal sign of the arrival of man to the mass, the pájara. Pogacar lived this truth on Wednesday as he descended the Lautaret to his martyrdom on the Granon. The Slovenian looks at the camera from the director’s motorbike, who stands up towards him, smiles and makes the gesture of someone speeding up a motorbike, I’m about to get out. Gianetti, his manager, an old cyclist, from the car tells him not to go crazy, to wait, not to speed up. Incredible lesson. The bird visited him soon after. Too much instinct which, fortunately, does not listen to the elders, does not believe in signs and always lets itself be carried away by the desire which marks its state of mind, its euphoria. Like his shadow, like the other side of his coin, Vingaard, who does not act out of euphoria, but rather out of reason, never stands out even in the narrowest passages of the climb, among overexcited fans who steal their horizon, they end up forming an inseparable tandem, and in the frontal shots, the Dane is so coupled, it seems that only Pogacar is walking, climbing towards the airfield of Mende, anticipating the Pyrenees to come. These are, reduced to four wheels, all the Tower of Franceand all its history of duels, disappointments, errors, madness.