Biniam Girmay, the long-awaited, wins and celebrates on the podium, shakes the bottle of pink
and the cap comes out as fast, better, withering, a flash, as he is, the African
, the cyclist from Asmara, in the last straight, tremendous speed maintained for 400 meters that surprises Mathieu van der Poel, the divine, and is unable to close the gap, and the fat cork stopper, just the same, is like him, an uncontrolled projectile that hits him in the left eye , and blinds him.
An hour and a half later he returns to the hotel with a damaged eye patch.
There is no more information.
The team indicates that until Wednesday morning it will not report on the condition of the rider, double protagonist of the extraordinary in a stage of the Giro, and his ability to continue in the Giro.
The chances of continuing, sources close to the team reported, were slim.
With only vision in one eye, a cyclist cannot ride in a pack.
820 pm @GrmayeBiniam has just left hospital in Jesi #Giro105 His start in stage 11 looks unlikely.
In the morning the team will communicate about it 🤞 pic.twitter.com/WvBC5Z2ZJL
— Renaat Schotte (@wielerman) May 17, 2022
The celebration of a historic event —because it is historic, and not only for the Giro d'Italia or for cycling or for sport, but for an entire continent, that a cyclist from black Africa wins a stage in a Grand Tour of a sport, so deeply rooted in the culture of old Europe— thus becomes, in less than the time it takes to tell it, a drama bordering on tragedy.
May 17, 2022, Tuesday, an unforgettable day.
Beaten, before crossing the line, Van der Poel gives his approval to the winner by raising his right thumb, okay, barbarian;
the press room of the Giro, journalists who are looking for stories that take the story of a race without edges, until now, out of torpor, start to applaud madly;
Juanpe, always in pink after an effort that like all those he stars in seems excessive, hugs him as soon as he crosses the finish line,
and also Van der Poel.
The hero, Girmay, is a boy born in the year 2000 who rides a bicycle with the determination of someone who feels chosen for a mission.
What a final! What a sprint! WHAT A BARBARITY!
Biniam Girmay Hailu and Mathieu van der Poel.
🎥 Eurosport pic.twitter.com/fsSSkjj9Bw
– Sergio Fernández Yustos (@sergioyustos_) May 17, 2022
Everything is extraordinary for a second under the usual sun of Jesi, in the Marches, the former papal states, where Leopardi, romantic, poet, thinker, raised his head above mediocrity in a land where priests, landlords , they allowed everyone to eat well, that no one went hungry, as long as they meekly accepted the natural order of things, that they were neither too bad nor too good, neither more nor less.
And past the Adriatic beaches, all the same, the repeated geometry of the symmetrical deckchair destroying the lines of nature on the Adriatic coast, under Mount Conero, hollow, you enter Recanati, the library from which Leopardi demolished all conservative thought in a brief triumph, quickly buried, again, by the smell of incense from the churches and the dust of Macerata, of Loreto,
Recanati, the town of the thinker, at the top of the hill, is an asphalt wall towards the mountain.
And Van der Poel, the restless, honors the romantic poet when he breaks the derailleur on his bicycle.
It is time for a display, a class exhibition that leaves the former cyclists speechless, Saligari, Petacchi, who comment for RAI, stunned by the calm with which he changes bikes, by the cleanliness with which he returns to the peloton, by himself, without taking advantage of leverage when his director offers him a jerrycan, without taking the wheel of the cars, catching on the fly, at 70 per hour, with the skill of a conjurer, a bag of ice from the hand of an assistant in a car .
And placing it around his neck, pedaling again.
Petacchi yells at him, but donkey, take advantage, go to wheel, hold on, you're going to pay for this effort, don't be foolish, but, friend, what class, my God.
Leopardi and Van der Poel.
All excesses will be punished, the mediocre ones promise, which further accelerates the will, the desire to touch the nose, of the Dutchman, always the protagonist.
And at his wheel, glued, Girmay, who wants to be like him, who is being, and learns and grabs on the fly, not the bag of ice that cools him off on the first really hot day in Italy, but all the details of the champions, whom he does not imitate, but improves.
The Italian colonizers, the new Roman empire of Mussolini, created Asmara, the little Rome, and brought their bicycles and their love of cycling to the country of the African Levant.
When they left, defeated in 1941, they left the bicycles and the love of cycling, which Girmay, and many others, inherited and made fruitful.
And, at a time when Italy cries because its good cyclists are old, Pozzovivo, who works for Girmay, Nibali, who only attacks going down, arrives on his bike to reconquer the world in the name of a continent, Africa.
Historical irony, rewriting.
A unique talent, a fast and resistant cyclist, capable of passing the mid-mountain, a Van der Poel in a certain way, without his taste for useless spending, for excess, Girmay obtained a scholarship from the UCI, which housed him in its training center in Switzerland.
He was then signed by a French team and ended up, after so many experiences and only 22 years, and a daughter, in the Belgian Intermarché.
He amazed those who had never seen him by finishing second in the U23 World Cup in Leuven.
He won the Ghent-Wevelgem, a cobblestone classic, in March and said: "I do it in the name of Africa."
He lives in San Marino.
He makes a mistake in a corner on the last descent and it seems that he is already saying goodbye, but he reappears at the wheel of Van der Poel, and Pozzovivo begins to launch the sprint, slightly uphill.
Van der Poel, his eyes fixed on the Italian, absorbed, perceives too late that, like a cap of champagne, withering, damaging, Girmay starts to the right of him.
He surprises you.
He defeats him.
He sits in the saddle Van der Poel, who defeated Girmay in heads-up on the first day in Hungary, and that day, the Dutchman always opens the stories, Van der Poel already hit himself in the eye with the bottle cap celebratory, but more slightly.
He lowers his head.
“An extraordinary day.
I am dumbfounded,” says Girmay, before the plug blinds him.
“I have won my first stage in my first big.
This is a great story for me and for all Africans.
We already know that anything is possible.”
And the world, with its mouth open, nods, and respects, and says, you have to be a real phenomenon to make Van der Poel sit down in an arrival like this.
The stage, a succession of hills, a continuous ups and downs, has been so hard that only 30 riders reach the finish line in the first peloton.
And it has been won by a cyclist from black Africa.
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