Merlier joins after sprinting past Groenewegen, Nizzolo and Viviani, left to right.JENNIFER LORENZINI / Reuters
In Novara, where roller hockey was king, Belgian Tim Merlier, a rookie at 28 at the court of the greats, surpasses the sprint senators, who have other things on their minds.
The UAE has a Hispanic train - two Colombians, one Argentine - that derails. Dylan Groenewegen struggles every day with his memory, with memories, images, sounds, and a silence, which he cannot erase, and nine months have passed. Caleb Ewan is lost in the ruckus. Only Italians, forced to race at home, and the fans are unforgiving, pedal to the end. Nizzolo is second, Viviani third. The final kilometer does not help the classics, anything but straight, more winding than a river in the Padana plain that they have traveled all day at a calm pace in tune with the serene spring that still lasts. A road with unevenness, tunnels, narrowings and an endless last curve under the minimally cloudy sky.
The most rookie of the UAE's three, Sebastián Molano, takes command of launch operations, and he skids regrettably.
Only whoever took the rope, the one closest to the inside of the final curve, would have a chance of winning, and right there, well attached to the fence, well protected, Fernando Gaviria begins to overcome his pitcher, Molano.
He is ceasing his effort, stops pedaling and, oblivious to everything, feels that someone wants to overtake him from the inside.
With the reflexes of an arriving man, he immediately closes the door with his shoulder, and is left white and scared when he realizes that the one who almost smashed against the resistant fence is his boss, Gaviria, who curses him and screams in pain and curses him again.
Filippo Ganna, in pink in the paradise of the Giro d'Italia
The head machinist of the UAE, Max Richeze, a wise man of the most complicated arrivals, of the logarithms and the trigonometry of the sprint, does not exercise because he has been in doubt for more than a year, like Gaviria, his faithful. And he is still looking for reasons to believe that they no longer have the aftermath of the covid that both suffered severely in March 2020, the so-called long-term covid. "We have to regain confidence both in each other and in the race," says Richeze before the start, and could repeat after the finish given the disaster. “We have had a lot of lung problems, but I think we have already overcome them”, “But last year it was very difficult. We could not recover, we had lost the entire base because we did not touch the bike for two months.And there was talk of so many things about the disease that we did not know if they were true or a lie ... "
On August 6, 2020, the day after the fall that almost ended in the Tour of Poland with the life of the Dutch sprinter Fabio Jakobsen - two days of coma, multiple skull fractures, 130 stitches in the mouth, windpipe shattered, and all her teeth, and eight months later she still smiles like a witch, because she has 10 missing, cosmetic operations that have not returned her face - everyone, moved, did not cost anything to put themselves in the place of the unfortunate corridor. Almost no one, on the other hand, chose for their empathy the shoes of Groenewegen, the compatriot who pushed him at 85 per hour against some fences that exploded on impact. Jakobsen started running again at eight months, a few weeks ago, and, given what he has seen, and no matter how much will and effort he puts into it, it will take him several more months to get closer to what he was on a bike.Groenewegen suffered a nine-month suspension, and has returned to racing in the Giro, and looks like he was before. He finished fourth - he measured his effort badly and stopped pedaling 20 meters from the finish - but he did not manage from his teammates more than to escape the conflict, to act as if nothing had happened. "I can't speak for the others, but I knew I was going to face it soon," says Ewan. "Before the suspension we competed a lot and I don't think things are going to change, he will be a tough opponent, as always.""Before the suspension we competed a lot and I don't think things are going to change, he will be a tough opponent, as always.""Before the suspension we competed a lot and I don't think things are going to change, he will be a tough opponent, as always."
One more year, Landa is one of the favorites of the Giro d'Italia
Nobody seems to want to put themselves in their shoes and think what would have happened to their life if they felt guilty for the ills of a partner, as Groenewegen feels, and says in interviews that there is not a day when he does not think about the fatal moment, that don't relive the bang of Jakobsen on collision and the terrifying silence that followed in your head.
"No, no, I never thought about it, and it's better not to think about it because then you get blocked," Richeze reasons.
"One thing is to take risks, another is to risk others."
Only a thread of compassion seems to spring from the words of Patrick Lefévère, Jakobsen's patron at the Deceuninck, one who went so far as to say that Groenewegen deserved jail. “In hot I have said very serious things against Dylan, but then I have reflected, and I think that we all have the right to a second chance,” says the Belgian manager. "As the Bible says, whoever is free from sin, cast the first stone." And Lefévère begins to talk about his jewel, his Remco Evenepoel, who has fought a flying goal against Filippo Ganna, giant in rose, the only bodyguard for Egan, and he has lost, but he takes two bonus seconds, and is already fourth from the general, 20s from the Piedmontese in pink with whom all Italy is in love, children and old women, above all, who acclaim him from the ditches that are repopulated. Says Remco: “For Italians,Ganna is a superhero. " And Ganna returns the compliment. "I suppose he is for the Belgians, of course," says the Giro leader, with the wisdom of his 24 years. “But for me, superheroes are the ones who were in the front row in the first confinement of the pandemic. We cyclists just do our job and distract people. "
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