Van Aert and Pogacar's Tour de France

Van Aert and Pogacar’s Tour de France

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Nature is like that. Two tectonic plates collide and the Alps sprout from their folds, but since there is a salt plate in between, a tray of salt water that has evaporated, the Jura mountains, so humble by their side, are born, daughters of the same forces, a little further, leaving between the two the lakes of the Swiss millionaires, who can attend, raising their gaze a little towards the heights of the Olympic stadium of the very Olympic Lausanne, uphill from Mont Blanc avenue, to another demonstration of how the desires of nature are uncontrollable for the human, overwhelming, and it is not caprice that leads to collide against all logic, and without salt plate to moderate them, in an unnecessary sprint to the two great forces of the Tour, to the who wears green, the Wout van Aert who refuses to leave the stage, and the one who wore white and yellow since Thursday, his natural color on the Tour, the Tadej Pogacar who, after Mathieu van der Poel in his first leading action in the entire Tour would have done an intense relay, five kilometers from the finish, cuckoo, here I am, he puts himself at the wheel of a self-sacrificing Frenchman and surprised to feel the breath of the leader of the Tour on his neck on a day that should let others earn their lentils.

And with this paradox even the routine of talking about Pogacar over and over again becomes exhilarating: the Slovenian is inventing the Tour.

“It was a finish that I liked and seeing that there would be a sprint, I thought I could win,” says Pogacar, who arrived in full swing, two victories in a row in the two previous stages, and two rebellious blond locks already scream from his yellow helmet, his coconut more threatening , and without stopping to explain, perhaps because he does not know them, what forces push him to become an intruder on the first day of the heat of the Tour, which he also defies, and sends his Polish friend Majka to tear everyone to shreds and leave breathless. “I tried to win, but, as you saw, I wasn’t the fastest today.” He beat Van Aert, and logic was able to nature, as the Belgian already could, in the photo finish, in the sprint for the Olympic silver in the Fuji circuit, in Tokyo. In Lausanne, the great Australian specialist Michael Matthews is interspersed between the two, who always collides this Tour with a faster one. And Van Aert, who with this one from Lausanne has scored his second stage victory, acknowledges that he was about to say enough was enough when Majka, in the hardest part, was digging into his liver. “Now”, says the Belgian in green, a lover of the game of egos, of the tectonic shock, the oxygen of his motivation. “We had this stage marked in the Jumbo since before the Tour. And I have had to define the work of the team. I reached my limit, but I held on. Too bad that Van der Poel is not doing well this Tour. Beating him always gives me more prestige, but it’s not bad to beat Pogacar either, right?

It was a transition stage, a day of escape and secondary, of recovering from the Planche, of taking oxygen before the Alps, which threaten, and 28 degrees in the wet streets, on the lake after a route with hardly any flat sections to across the Jura border. Those who live from experience had ruled, big escape, considerable advantage, stage among the escapees; the others, like Roglic, the mirror, to heal their wounds, the blows that on the back of the martyred Slovenian become a knife sinking into his back with each pedal stroke. But the cannibal does not live on experience, he lives so up to date that he runs without thinking if today’s waste will be tomorrow’s lack, without fear. And his search for instant reward, perhaps increased because the threat of covid, which on Saturday made a colleague from the UAE and a cyclist from Ag2r withdraw, is real and increasing, and nobody knows if the next day a silly cough and an antigen they will force them to go home, drags everyone, and does not let them breathe. He forces Jonas Vingegaard to get on his wheel, and Roglic, and Mas, and so many Ineos, who are everywhere and you never know who will go the furthest, and Vlasov, who also wants to impress, and all those for whom that the Tour begins in the Alps, when perhaps Pogacar has already closed it. “My rival is not covid. Covid threatens everyone equally,” says the 23-year-old Slovenian. “My rival is all the other teams.”

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