Ripollés region, Catalan Pyrenees.
Livestock land and excellent sausages.
Land irrigated by the river Ter, now little rough.
Land of leafy mountains where the rain is a permanent tenant, although without being persistent.
Land, also, of Birba, the famous cookies.
Land of sense of independence and esteladas.
Summer land for the Catalan bourgeoisie.
Land of twisty roads sheltered by a green mantle.
And from this Tuesday, the land of Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), a grain of salt for Roglic and Evenepoel, the two beasts on the handlebars, the cyclists who do not take a nap even by chance, those who met before the Volta and make a good bet , superlative spectacularity.
The Slovenian was second;
the Belgian, third.
The victory was resolved in the final sprint, the culmination of a climb of many watts, some starts from Evenepoel that only the strongest could endure.
A blow to Chaves (EF), who promised them to be very happy until the roosters saw the sun rise;
and a prize for a Ciccone who took the laurel to explain that in the Volta he wants to sit at the table of Roglic and Remco.
The day began in Mataró, wrapped in
by Roglic and Evenepoel, the great attraction, the cyclists who suddenly showed their credentials for the victory of the Volta after settling the first arrival in the sprint.
Mass bath in the city, heyday of cycling.
Shortly after the curtain opened and five runners jumped like a spring —later three others joined—, dreaming of a Homeric feat, with a victory from foot to foot.
Something that is rarely distilled in modern cycling, since the peloton calculates the times and spaces to perfection, the margin of disadvantage, less in the one-week races than in the great tours, lest they get into a tangle.
Obtuse, the escapees reached a maximum distance of four and a half minutes, what the Jumbo-Visma team wanted, always leading and obedient to the demands of Roglic, the first leader of the Volta, controller by definition.
It's what it has to be from the Dutch team, that day in and day out —because the other leader is Vingegaard— it's time to put on work overalls.
Thus, when the Coll de Coubet began, a 9.2-kilometre ascent with maximum slopes of 11%, the difference gradually diminished.
No hurry because the chicha, the main course, the
, was the ascent to Vallter that led to the finish line, 11.4 kilometers endured wrapped by pine trees and whitish stones adorned with moss, an average gradient of 7.6% and maximum ramps 18%.
By then, the escapees had a little less than two minutes of advantage.
Minutiae for Bahrain and Jumbo —they imposed the persecutory rhythm—, even though Simon Carr (EF) made good that famous phrase by Chente García Acosta, director of Movistar, “the escape of the escape”.
Carr tried and failed in the attempt as also happened to Chaves.
The Colombian, however, lacked little.
He started with 6.5 kilometers from the finish line without any opposition, clenched teeth and dancing on the bike, now sitting, now standing, mouthfuls of air that were easy to get to.
With a kilometer to go he made water.
The fault, above all, of Mikel Landa (Bahrain), who said this is mine, a tear that ripped apart the already malnourished group, only pursued by Remco, Roglic and Ciccone.
His pedaling, however, was not enough to catch Chaves or to win the stage, a weakness that Evenepoel punished, who attacked up to three times in four kilometers.
In the last one he made natural selection: he, Primoz and Ciccone.
The last one, the one that was not expected, won.
"I have lost many times in the last two weeks, especially with Roglic, but the altitude was strong and it has been good for me," the Italian resolved after crowning.
Roglic was able to close second place and consolidate his lead, now six seconds behind Evenepoel.
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