Primoz Roglic, last March in Paris-Nice DPA via Europa Press / Europa Press
When the Tour of the Basque Country, now called Itzulia, was at its dawn, one of the chroniclers of the organizing newspaper, the Bilbao-based newspaper Excelsior , He was a man from Zaragoza who had played for Barça in 1915, who was tried and acquitted for desertion in an African military court, and who later went into exile on the Winnipeg ship, in which more than a thousand Spanish intellectuals traveled to Chile. He interviewed Ricardo Montero in the 1928 edition, while the champion drank a cup of broth. "If Peñacerrada is not enough, El Perdón remains … for those who come with me to Laguardia." Unlimited confidence of the cyclist from Abuelense, who spoke while having a chicken broth. The same confidence that Tadej Pogacar and Primoz Roglic show in each race , almost a hundred years later. They do not say it, but they do it
Valverde wins on the verge of 41 years The Spanish cycling calendar, a desert in 2021
In the center of Bilbao, in front of the City Hall building that still preserves the Athletic flag on its façade, which Today it seems more straightforward than a few days ago, the faces of the two Slovenian phenomena who monopolized the covers on the last Tour will meet again. The unexpected winner and the second on the podium, ousted on the penultimate day, face, in principle, a short but dizzying time trial, designed by Roberto Laiseka, Luz Ardiden's hero, with an initial climb of Mount Artxanda, of almost three kilometers, a descent at full speed towards the heart of Bilbao, and the final ascent to a wall of 500 meters that begins in the Plaza del Gas, where for decades the factory that supplied electricity to the Villa was; which later was the scene of massive concerts at the Bilbao festivals and is now a quiet and familiar space where cyclists will pass towards the chimneys of Etxebarria Park, in Begoña, overcoming ramps of up to 21% unevenness.
The organizers had planned the stage as the culmination of the 2020 edition, which was not held due to the pandemic. It was going to be a longer time, but they did not want it to make too great a difference between the favorites, so they made the decision to cut it.
Pogacar arrives as new at the start of Bilbao, “excited to try to win in the Basque Country ”, rested after making a break after the Tirreno-Adriatic, going through the wind tunnel to improve its aerodynamic performance and meet commitments with the sponsors, who crowd around the very young winner of the Tour. "It's fine, it's very good," says its director, Josean Fernández Matxin. “He won the Tirreno, then the UAE Tour, he rested later and here he comes to win too, also accompanied by a powerful team.”
He and Roglic will play on the attack; the others will try to defend themselves and take advantage of any loopholes. Two years ago Ion Izagirre won, who comes with a powerful Astana, and is again a candidate, like Mikel Landa, third in the Tirreno, who knows the route and the calico, and does not trust the Slovenian couple, both escorted by their powerful squads. Not the rest, of course. From Adam Yates, leader of Ineos, accompanied by Carapaz; by Michael Woods or Bauke Mollema. Or the wasps of the other teams, who always swarm along a route that faces a ramp finish in the second stage that ends in Sestao; another on a mountain top in the third, ending in Llodio; the fourth, which ends in Hondarribia, with Erlaitz, in the first category, 20 kilometers from the finish; the penultimate, which ends in Ondarroa after a walk up and down, and the last, next Saturday, with the traditional final climb to the Sanctuary of Arrate. 797 kilometers very fun if they have it Pogacar and Roglic.
You can follow SPORTS on Facebook and Twitter , or sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter .