The main monument of Le Creusot, in Burgundy not of wine but of steel and granite, so hard, is a 100-ton, 20-meter high steam hammer that, like Muhammad Ali, the magic boxer who struck hard Like the kick of a mule and it danced winged like a butterfly, it mercilessly pounded the iron in the foundry and, in the hands of its magnificent workers, it was so delicate that it could split the shell of a walnut without crushing the brain of the fruit. And those of the town, and their socialist mayor, David Martí, son of Valencian republicans in exile, say that when he went into action, his blow was heard 10 kilometers around, a bell that amazed all the towns after thundering them. , but being impressive, his rumor was perhaps not so much, neither as broad nor as harsh as the one awakened by the cyclist kicks that the aristocrats and proletarians of the platoon give each other, true and exquisite fighters, on the attack, on the attack, who neither forgive nor console each other in a 250-kilometer stage, the longest in 21 years, run under heavy heat at more than 45.5 per hour, in five and a half hours. It was one of the biggest days the Tour de France has experienced in recent years.
It was a stage that no one will forget, not the winners or the losers, not their sore legs or burning lungs. Primoz Roglic, injured, devastated, alone, loses almost four minutes compared to his Siamese, Tadej Pogacar, and is almost five and a half minutes behind him in the general standings of a Tour that he will not win. A month and a half after his terrifying fall in a descent of the Giro d’Italia on the way to Campo Felice de Egan, the third Slovenian, the crazy Matej Mohoric, wins the stage: he escapes from the escape to 80 kilometers from the finish, climbing the slope of Château Chinon, and thus pays tribute to its long-time mayor, François Mitterrand. “A long and brutal stage, as I like them,” says Mohoric, who recalls that the stages he won in the Vuelta, in Cuenca in 2017, and in the Giro, in Gualdo Tadino 2018, also measured more than 200 kilometers. And it is always on the run.
In Le Creusot’s escape there are 28 left. Some usual rockers of the great classics are missing, such as Alejandro Valverde and his heir, Julian Alaphilippe, who try to sneak into the first kilometers, when he leaves at 60 per hour and even surpass fans on the plain , but he is one of the best of the squad of the year. There are Vincenzo Nibali, who shows his weakness, and Simon Yates, too. There is the winner of Flanders, the Danish Kasper Asgreen, and there are the two great Flemings, the leader, Mathieu van der Poel, and his enemy brother, Wout van Aert, always shadow each other, two like those who do not know what to do if they don’t know what the other is doing. They do everything in a big way. They feel so strong that they are not afraid of the next day. And their duel makes a Tour that will be a long one for the Pogacar team, the UAE, a group that did not take a single pedal stroke in the lead last Tour, always at the wheel of the now ruined mechanical banana of the Roglic Jumbo, and this year he will have to do penance. So the other teams tell him, and Pogacar complains. “We asked everyone to go to work to control the leak and they all told us no, that I was the strongest and that it was my turn,” says the 22-year-old Slovenian who burned everyone in the time trial, and with that weight burdens, punishment for his superiority.
“I have never run the Tour, but I have seen many on TV, and I had never seen a stage like this, a brutal stage,” says Poulidor’s grandson, who is growing so fast that not long from now the fans will refer to the endearing Poupou like Mathieu’s grandfather, and his legs ached, like all those on the run, even before the last 80 kilometers entering the Morvan and its granite hills and its asphalt roads as rough as wild granite, and he is on the run because Van Aert is there, and he defends himself by going with him, always on the attack, and they even collaborate in the climb to the Signal d’Uchon, 635 meters, the summit of Morvan, and its City airs Enchanted, made of stones that erosion has carved into shapes that are only possible in dreams, and those on earth call it Mount Juliano, and there, in July, on the 18% slope that when it was climbed for the first time , on a 1965 Paris-Nice, when the largest sprocket that was put on bikes was 21 teeth It is, only Van der Poel’s grandfather was able to ascend without putting his foot on the ground, he attacks hard, very hard, Richard Carapaz, no fists, dynamite legs, and he leaves, and nobody can follow him. The leader of the Ineos scares. Everyone knows that the Ecuadorian can win the Tour. You can not leave a meter. Pogacar now only has one companion left, Rafal Majka, and he tells him not to wear out. They let him go. Only two teams can chase him. Rigo Urán’s EF and Enric Mas’s Movistar. They are both bound to do it and they both do it. With more effort the Spaniards, who were in front of them, in flight, Cortina and Erviti, and they all work. They catch up with the Ecuadorian in the sprint, who gets angry because they won’t let him go, and his partner Kwiatkowski gets more angry, who faces Valverde and Mas, and they tell him what is it about, if he doesn’t know that this is the Tour , where there is neither mercy nor consolation, only pain and blows. And everyone dreams of glory. And on Saturday, the Alps are already looming.