06/24/2021 at 6:32 PM CEST
When the Tour left Nice a year ago in an unprecedented month of September, the goal was to reach Paris. It didn’t matter who won. The important thing is that the greatest health crisis that the world has experienced since everything is globalized will not destroy the test and that the virus does not punish cyclists and race followers.
The feat was achieved and it was even achieved that a boy then 21 years old named Tadej pogacar be captivated by his class and self-confidence on a bike beyond looking at the place where he was born. But it was a very sad French round, with hardly any public in the ditches and with severe security measures that prevented the public from getting even closer to the corridors. It was the Grande Boucle of the ‘masked men’ and of social distance in sport where the fan is always closer to the protagonists.
Now it is a pleasure to walk through the streets of Brest, where the 2021 Tour begins on Saturday, with nothing less than a high end. It hardly matters that summer hasn’t arrived here yet. People walk with jackets and watch out for a downpour. But he does it with an open face, as if giving the feeling that freedom has been recovered and that the mask looks very good, no matter how much design it has, stored in the pocket of the pants to put it on again when entering any closed space: traveling offices of the Tour, a shop, supermarket or restaurant.
And if you look up, you are likely to see a figure from the Tour training in Brest or the surroundings, the flower of cycling and the joy for an amateur who will be able to return to the Alps, the Pyrenees and mountains so famous heavenly like the Ventoux which is climbed twice during the 11th stage of the race.
There is already permission to stand in the gutter, although the restrictions to access the ports that can only be climbed on foot or by bike will still prevail. And those who are fortunate enough to receive an invitation to attend the Tour’s departure or arrival areas, the limited terrain, must carry a negative antigen test or the vaccination passport.
Thus, like so many other scenes of civic life, the Tour gradually recovers normality. It does so with a very attractive route, a route that avoids massive arrivals, five or six at most, and does not abuse the high mountains either. with the Alps looser than other times, with reduced mileage on the big days between peaks to look for attacks away from the fences and with two time trials, on the fifth day and the stage before Paris, so that the differences are not made only on the slopes.
If last year the test was delayed and even the celebration was in danger due to the pandemic, this year it has been brought forward a week but for sports reasons, so that it does not coincide with the celebration of the Tokyo Games, which were also touched and postponed ago a year for world chaos.
The tour, that Tour that is lived in France as a party and an event of character generatesHe will spend a week in Brittany, among its green and wet meadows and beaches where sometimes you can see the sand and sometimes not, as the tide feels like it. It will be a French round that will only make a foray abroad to penetrate Andorran territory through roads that are familiar to almost half of the participants of the test, because there they have established their residence. Andorra la Vella welcomes the arrival of the 15th stage after a very hard ascent to Beixalís, a short but treacherous pass. There the Tour will rest and there everyone, cyclists included, will have to undergo an anticovid test again, if they are not vaccinated, to return again to France and live the two main mountain days with arrivals at Portet de Saint Lary and Luz Ardiden after passing through the Tourmalet.
Will it be the Duel Tour between Slovenians? Pogacar defends title and Primoz Roglic presents itself as its main rival. “I have not competed and trained for two months but I think I am ready to fight for the Tour & rdquor ;, the Slovenian rider repeated yesterday, in Brest.
Pogacar, the young man; Roglic, the tireless; and against them a whole Ineos with Geraint thomas (Tour 2018) in the lead. But don’t worry in the British ranks because if he fails Richard Carapaz (2019 Giro) is ready. If something happens to them they have Richie Porte (third last year). And if they all err, they even have a replacement for Tao Geoghegan Hart, winner of the 2020 Giro. A major concern for the Slovenian couple and for runners like Enric Mas or your Colombian partner Superman Lopez.
The Tour begins and does so 30 years after Miguel Induráin achieved the first of five consecutive victories. And no less than 36 years after the last French triumph; a Breton, of course, Bernard Hinault, and without Julian AlaphilippeNo matter how much yellow ‘jersey’ you wear for a few days, I remedied it in Paris. How time passes, although it becomes more pleasant when you walk through French cities without a mask on your face.