Session launch - SPECIFIC
Three weeks ago we started in Corsica lands and in the BH space, a double adventure: On one hand we wanted to live the Tour from inside and on the other we wanted to transmit to all cycling lovers what this race is like from all points of view. Our objective was not prepare a chronicle, but to reflect the feelings of the racers, the perception of what was happening, to talk about all the race environment and what it means for France and for the world, presenting a humble team like Sojasun and also relating stories of the past.
Not only is Alpe d´Huez one of the most important ski stations of all of France, it has become legendary in the world of cycling. Not many know that is has the longest black course of Europe, but many can tell about battles held in the final stages of the Tour de France on this mythical summit.
Today’s time trial finishing in Charges has not resolved many things so the feared Alps will be dictating the sentence in this centenary edition of the Tour de France. The victory of Froome has been more decisive than the scarce margin of seconds he has obtained, but he had to race with rain and hail in more complicated conditions than the others did, who did not have to risk in the curves.
We have now entered the third and final week of the Tour and the cyclists have the end in sight. The racers are quite even as far as strength goes. There are lots of nerves, the rhythm of the race has become quite fast, the heat is incessant and the pressure on those teams that have yet to win is very intense, creating even more tension.
Arid landscape. Without vegetation. Without oxygen. Asphyxiating heat. And a 20 kilometre climb. That is what the Tour de France has found in the climb of the mythical Mont Ventoux, the most feared climb by the pack. Probably it is not the hardest they will climb in the French race but the one that inspires most fear among those “route sloggers” due to all the previously mentioned conditions.
Winning a stage in the Tour de France is very complicated; it is the dream-come-true of every boy that wants to be a cyclist. Very few have the conditions to do it, but many less are the ones that achieve it. Those that have achieved it do not have any words to describe what that moment means and much less those humble racers that have lived a few days of glory in their record of accomplishments. Winning in the best race of the world is a distant hypothesis for many.
“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn”. This is what Rhett Butler said to Scarlett O’Hara in the last scene of one of the most famous films of the history of cinema. That is what Saxo Bank today said to Froome; or Belkin to Valverde, or Omega to Kittel. The ears of the wheat were bent. Flags waved with unmeasured force. Danger was latent and the god of wind, the one that had been overcome in earlier stages, had his revenge with uncontrolled anger and caused an upheaval in a race that seemed would have a different result.
The stages advance and more and more we get the feeling from within the cars following the race that there are ever-growing crowds. Arriving in the city of Tours today was impressive and the French Ministry of the Interior estimated the total number of spectators at between 12 and 15 million people. And it is expected that in Alpe d'Huez there will be nearly one million followers. This goes to show that the Tour is a social event, and not merely a sporting competition. My friend Serge Laget compares the French bike race to Christmas in July. Year after year, numerous faces are in the crowds may be recognized. But surely, the most well-known spectator is “El Diablo”.
This is what they called Miguel Indurain after his display in the time trial in 1992 in Luxembourg and today we have seen the face of the Navarrese reflected in the face of Chris Froome who has produced a devastating blow that seems to have defined the Tour. The South Africanhas showed his power and has achieved an almost perfect time and if he has not won in the beautiful location of Saint Michel it has been because a super expert such as Tony Martin has beaten him by barely a few seconds. His times have been far better than the rest and I feel extremely happy for the German, who was still injured after his fall in Corsica.
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