The 112th Milan – San Remo takes less than seven hours to more than 45 on average (the wind blows backwards on the coast), a tenth of a second and Jasper Stuyven. A test of resistance to boredom for 299 kilometers and a test of liveliness, quick intelligence, intuition, decision without doubts in one meter. A brilliant counterfeit that gives him victory in Via Roma and fills the new cannibals, annihilated in the classicissima, the easiest race to run and the hardest to win.
The hours get so long and so monotonous that the day before the cyclists tell their fear of falling asleep, and explain what they plan to do to avoid falling asleep on the long crossing of the Po plain. We get distracted by anything, says Alaphilippe, chatting with the one next to us or thinking about life, but always with one eye open, we cannot lose focus. And in the ditch, next to the river, in the rice fields, a Fiat Topolino is parked in an amaranth color, deep red, and although there is no fog but a still cold sun, you have to think of Paolo Conte, Voghera, Stradella’s accordion, and inevitably in Gianni Mura traveling the Tour in his Fiat Multiplà, an ashtray in the armrest and Carletto at the wheel, and Conte’s cracked voice and piano on the radio cassette player, and his melancholy is contagious, and this Sunday, the 21st, does a year that Mura died, who was a Tour and Gimondi journalist.
The tenth of a second is a meter, an exact place, a spark, it is Jasper Stuyven, that when the Poggio road – finished the flower greenhouses, the lemon trees and the orange trees on its slopes, the music of the I will fly by Domenico Modugno in the “blu dipinto de blu ” that inwardly and unconsciously those who feel invaded by spring, with the desire to jump into the Mediterranean so blue, its vertigo-like descent — is going to connect again with the Via Aurelia and the perfume of mimosas, two kilometers scraped from the finish line in Via Roma, launches its attack. It is seen and unseen. One, two, 10 meters ahead. Goodbye. And the favorites are looked at and marked. The new cannibals fear and doubt, and end up being eaten. Alaphilippe, the only one who dared to break the peace of Poggio established by the insane speed with which Pippo Ganna made them ascend, terror made horsepower, wants to breathe. Van Aert, always at the wheel of the French, does not want to shoot because the tiny sprinter Australian Caleb Ewan. Behind them, Van der Poel, always a half smile on his lips that feign disinterest, calculates and waits.
It is a new situation for them. Anesthetized the Cipressa, the impossible march of Van Aert’s Jumbo, and the Poggio due to the high speed imposed by those of Pidcock’s and Kwiatkowski’s Ineos, their superior strength, their ability, their class and their talent are no longer good for anything. They have let the moment pass. They have stolen the fire and the race. Stuyven has done it, a Belgian who will turn 29 in April, emerged from the quarry of Johan Bruyneel in the United States, the team that Axel Merckx leads and that began with the blessing of Lance Armstrong. Qualified in its early days new Cancellara Because of his ability to start on the flat and maintain speeds in excess of 60 per hour for several minutes, Stuyven was never able to achieve what was expected of him. Before the classicissima, his first monument, the Belgian had only won two of the early season semi-classic calls, cobblestones and walls – the Het Nieuwsblad and the Kuurne – and lap stages. And that was the Belgian of the Trek, the only team of his entire life, one of the bunch that followed the unbeatable stars – since last summer, in all the races in which the three stars, Alaphilippe, Van Aert and Van der Poel, one of them always won – until he had the unique intuition to attack where no runner had attacked before to win.
“There were three very strong riders and they only talked about them,” said the Belgian happy after the great victory of his life. But I had a plan. There were too many riders faster than me at the end of the Poggio, so I was either attacking or sprinted to finish eighth or ninth. That didn’t work for me. It was all or nothing. You had to gamble. And I played it ”. Only at the finish line, when Stuyven had already raised his arms, did the favorites arrive at his wheel in a sprint desperate that left Ewan second, Van Aert, third, and Van der Poel, fifth behind Sagan. Alaphilippe raised his foot and did not fight for a position of honor.
Like last year, Alex Aranburu finished seventh after joining the group of favorites on the final level. He was the best Spanish. In his debut, Gonzalo Serrano finished 25th, 6s, with the same time as Iván García Cortina (30th).