Lampaert, on the podium in Copenhagen, with the yellow jersey.GONZALO FUENTES (REUTERS)
The rain comes ahead and destroys the favourites, who curse the dozens of apps on their mobile phones that repeated the same thing the day before, no, not until five o'clock, not a drop, and at four o'clock already the puddles flood some sections of the Copenhagen in where you only see people everywhere, and dangerous flags painted on the asphalt.
And at six, it clears.
Yves Lampaert wins, a flamingo who only wants to return to his town, to his land, cultivate it, watch the barley grow, and puts up with Specialized's wise aerodynamicists fitting a tight-fitting executioner under his helmet on his head, as smooth as if it had been hair and eyebrows shaved, and as round as if the ears had been ripped off the Belgian classicomaniac who honors ancient cycling every spring and rolls so well that until last year he won the championship of his Belgium.
“But this, but this...”, he says, and his eyes are already watering.
“I was thinking of finishing in the top 10, and it would have been a great result, but beating Van der Poel, Ganna, Van Aert... Not even in my dreams did I ever think I could do it.
And I have.
And it wasn't raining anymore, no, but there were a lot of puddles and he was dangerous.
He knew I had to buy time in the corners, and that's what I did.”
The figures, huddled together, shivering, look at him enviously and drenched in dressing in yellow.
Those who live in the present did not want it so much as a transition towards a distant goal—Pogacar, Roglic, the great Vingegaard, the Dane of the 21st century, grouped in 9s, with an advantage for the young Slovenian, all close to 51 per hour on average on such a skating rink--, like those addicted to the instant gratification of whims, the inevitable Van Aert and Van der Poel, the specialist Ganna, cyclists masters of time and acceleration, and they applaud a peasant who knows mechanics better of his John Deere than that of his latest cycling tech gem.
He is 31 years old and his eyes widen when the helmet specialist tells him that thanks to the ridiculous executioner the helmet does not move on his head,
Stage and general.
As the existentialist Kierkegaard said more or less, with one of those phrases so round that in them the border between revelation and obviousness is very thin and dangerous, life can only be understood by reviewing the past, but you can only live looking forward, or this way.
Quoting him is appropriate, and not only because he was Danish, from Copenhagen, where it rains earlier than it was said, just when the good ones come out, and soaks them, and turns the time trial into a fight of appetites more than technology, but also because Filippo Ganna experienced something of this, that when his time trial ends, and he sighs, what a torment the water and the crossings, the zebra crossings, the Danish flags painted on the corners, territory for skaters, he looks back and sees in the banner that ends of overtaking that has marked the best time, and looks further back,
transmit it to the ankles and pedals through the hamstrings, the rectus femoris, the calves, speed up the cadence and sit back, until the next curve.
It was more of a fight than a race.
The time trialist must flow, say the esthetes, slide, not give a feeling of effort, and none in Copenhagen, not Ganna whose eyes are made bitter by the figure of a worker bailing out puddled water on the starting ramp, not Roglic, even, made an effort and disciplined, he found the flow.
Maybe so Pogacar, who lives the present like children, without past or future, and enjoys it in the rain like the girl who wears wellies for the first time and wants to jump in all the puddles, and also enjoys it in the heat, and smiles , and he doesn't twitch or get irritated... He flows, and he's already got 8s over the Jumbo couple, and 47s over Enric Mas, the most existentialist, tied to the past, the Spanish hope.
"They reminded me so much that this rain was so similar to the time trial in Düsseldorf in which Valverde broke his knee that I went out to insure," says the Mallorcan.
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