It is the fifth stage, when everything had to be done and Landa was still pedaling. The Giro crosses Bologna and Lorenzo Fortunato, who is from Bologna, asks permission from the leaders of the peloton to go ahead, my wife and my daughter, Verónica, are waiting for me, explains the cyclist, a 25-year-old young man who already feels like a hero for running the Giro, for passing in front of its neighbors, in full view of all, applauded by all, and kissed by the cameras. Ten days later, and the Giro is serious, and you are in the Alps, in the Zoncolan, in the terrible mountain, nobody waits for Fortunato, only the fog that envelops the forests and the meadows and covers him, He arrives alone, ahead of all those with whom he was on the run all day who, if his bike had a rear-view mirror, he would see suffering, making swings on the vertical slopes, so hard.
Fortunato, runner of the Eolo, the team half assembled by friends Ivan Basso and Alberto Contador – teammates and rivals for many years – has started without anyone’s permission, with the strength only of his legs, and he no longer feels a hero without more, an anecdote of color in a merciless race, but a great, a cycling giant, the conqueror of the Zoncolan, no less, in the same way that Egan Bernal, less than two minutes later, arrives sprinting alone , as if the climb had been made short and he needed more, ahead of the other protagonists, whom he has not asked permission, whom he has subjected without the anxiety of the first days, those in which he ran as if time would be lacking for everything he had in mind, but with science, patience, the calm of those who feel in control of events, and in command of the strongest team, the Ineos who recovers, years later, the composure, surgical cleanliness, precise scalpel cutting, which transported Froome and Thomas on their Tours.
The science of the strongest team is the end of the almost crazy fantasy of the first Egan, something like the boring coming of age of the wonder boy who won the Tour going against Alaphilippe, the one who started the Giro with fans in the highlands. from the southern mountains, with absurd pulses with the Remco boy, who is hard hit by the Giro. Follow the path of overwhelming logic, before his wheel appear rivals whom he knocks out, one by one, every day one, and his rose becomes more intense.
In the last kilometer – the 27% in some places, the hardest of a climb promoted to the train of yours, from Moscon, from Narváez, from Castroviejo, from Martínez, who are relieved by accelerating more and more, a roller that leaves without air in the lungs to Remco, who overwhelms everyone, to Vlasov, to Carthy, who gasps – the missing Simon Yates appears. The Englishman who remembers so much his waste of energy in the Giro del 18 finally appears, the one who went through pink and partying most days, and in which Froome finally crushed him. If anyone doubted that he would appear, it was not Egan, who waits for him and awaits him calmly, with absolute certainty that he would show up for the appointment. “It’s the climb that suits him best,” explains Egan. “And I know it is very good.” Egan no longer has anyone. You need an excuse to attack. He sees the English arrive at the head and immediately gets behind his wheel, and the two of them leave. Yates, standing on the pedals, with the apparent agile ease with which the winner of the 2018 Vuelta moves on happy days; Egan, sitting on the saddle, pulling kidneys, the best sign that his back does not bother him with other days. “He was moving a 36/32,” explains the Colombian from Zipaquirá. “And it was hard for me to pedal agile, the kilometer was so hard.” The images, however, betray his words, when, 300 meters from the finish, he rises a second from the saddle and attacks hard. Yates stays. Egan sprints. In so little space he takes 11s off Yates, already second overall, at 1m 33s. “How I have missed Landa and Soler,” laments Copeland, the director of Yates. “With them, so attacking, the Ineos train would not be so comfortable.”
In that last kilometer, Caruso, third overall, gets 39s; 54s to Hugh Carthy, the King of Angliru, and 1m 12s to Russian Vlasov, who apologizes to his team, Astana, for making all his teammates work the entire stage, for nothing.
He throws Vlasov’s Astana throughout the stage and, at his wheel, as if whistling, Bernal comments with his Castroviejo, how well, they work for us. “They wanted to win the stage and when we told them that the break was going well for us, they started to pull,” says Egan of the Kazakh team. They cross the Friuli border with half of Europe by roads that wind around the Tagliamento towards Tolmezzo, a poor town, a hard land, to which the Nazis deported thousands of Cossacks – “this will be your new homeland”, they promised – and there they settled until the invaders lost the war, and the Cossacks returned to their Russia, where they were massacred. Where so much blood fell, on the bridge over the Tagliamento of the descent of the Forcella del Monte Rest, in exactly the same place where Stephen Roche organized the great betrayal of Roberto Visentini in 1987 – the Irishman attacked the Italian, teammate and pink jersey, and won the Giro. “Let him go home,” Visentini asked, but the team’s boss, Carrera, told him, why? I want to win the Giro, and I don’t care with whom. Visentini lost faith in humanity. He set up an undertaker’s business. “I don’t want to know anything about the living,” he says – Astana organizes its movement, which remains a farce. They attack lowering butt, with Gorka Izagirre, with Luis León and Vlasov. And they do not surprise Egan, happy to wheel. More pink every day.