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Stage 7: “Portrait of Sagan" by Toulouse Lautrec

05/07/2013
He was one of the few friends of Van Gogh and their histories followed similar courses:  the nobles margined them both; they suffered from complexes due to their physique and both died in absolute solitude after not overcoming their mental illnesses related to insanity.  However, his friend achieved something that Van Gogh never did:  sell paintings during life and have certain recognition in his career.  We are talking of Toulouse Lautrec, painter born in religious township of Albi where the Tour arrived today.  
Stage 7: “Portrait of Sagan

They say of him, that in spite of being clearly influenced by impressionist artists like Renoir or Monet, he denied all of them because they painted landscapes, something that he considered as lower class art.  His obsession was always to paint people in close scenarios, especially the cabarets of Paris like “Moulin Rouge" that he so often visited.  Due to that, if Toulouse Lautrec had to do a painting of the Tour he would never pay attention to the beautiful landscapes through which the French tour runs, he would only consider the characters of the same and today his portrait would have been of Sagan that has won as a cyclist where the other triumphed as a painter.  The brilliant Slovak at last has raised his arms after having been very near in previous days and he has removed a thorn that this young but very voracious ex mountain-bike cyclist had stuck in him.  Surely, it will not be his first win. 

CoppiThe victory of Sagan is based on the extraordinary work of his team that imposed a strong rhythm once the pack had split and that some of the fastest riders like Cavendish have remained in the second group.  For us it has been a hectic day but we have again seen the progression of a cyclist of whom we expect a lot like Alexis Vuillermoz that has finished with the best in fourteenth position.  The other day I told you about his rivalry with Sagan in BTT and although his progresses are fewer, he is showing to be a man of great strength that surely will bring us happiness in the future. In addition, Max Mederel and a recovered El Fares arrived with the best, although the black point of the day was the fall of Brice Feillu who has sustained a strong hit on the knee.  He is our best bet for the mountain, in fact, he won a stage of the Tour in 2009 that finished in Arcalis, and we hope that he recovers for the two weekend stages in the Pyrenees.  For me, the finish in Albi has brought back very nice memories and a funny anecdote I had in the Tour at the beginning of the 90s. There was a finish in this town bathed by the river Tarn on the 14th July, national French day.  Next to the hotel where the riders were staying, in the central plaza of the town, there was a great celebration festival with the typical dance of the region.  There was so much noise that the cyclists could not sleep and they were angry so I had to talk to the musicians in order to stop the noise.  At the beginning they were reluctant but bit-by-bit I was convincing them and they finished the festival much earlier than expected.  It was funny due to the way it was taken and being a new demonstration of the power and influence the Tour has on French society. 

Coppi

They say of him, that in spite of being clearly influenced by impressionist artists like Renoir or Monet, he denied all of them because they painted landscapes, something that he considered as lower class art.  His obsession was always to paint people in close scenarios, especially the cabarets of Paris like “Moulin Rouge" that he so often visited.  Due to that, if Toulouse Lautrec had to do a painting of the Tour he would never pay attention to the beautiful landscapes through which the French tour runs, he would only consider the characters of the same and today his portrait would have been of Sagan that has won as a cyclist where the other triumphed as a painter.  The brilliant Slovak at last has raised his arms after having been very near in previous days and he has removed a thorn that this young but very voracious ex mountain-bike cyclist had stuck in him.  Surely, it will not be his first win. 

Coppi

After that hard finish, Miguel spent a long time with the masseur, a fundamental figure for the cyclists, also called an assistant.  He/she has a long workday. Early in the hotel he/she prepares the drink bottles (water and energy drinks) and puts them into the fridges of the two race cars that go before the race to prepare the provisioning points during the course of the race.  The provisioning bags are prepared in the truck every morning or the day before without forgetting those for the cars, the sandwiches with fresh bread each morning.  Some assistants also drive the bus or the truck that transport the cases and they book the rooms in the hotel for the next day.  The massage is the privileged moment for the cyclist who many times confides his secrets and doubts to the masseur, who ends up being his person of trust.  This action usually lasts one hour for each cyclist.  Recovery and spending a privileged time are the objectives of the massage as soon as the race finishes.  The day has not finished yet.  The assistant has to clean the fridges, wash the clothes in the washing machine and drier in the truck and come down for dinner to assist the cyclist.  Many times the time for reaching the hotel depends on the transport and for the assistants the days are also very long. 

That is all my friends. Tomorrow we reach the Pyrenees.  Greetings from Albi!


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