Friday, September 22, 2023

A tour without kisses

There will be no kiss for the winner of the Lap. And if you get it, it will be your partner’s. The vase woman has disappeared from the cycling. the world moves on. There was a sinister time. Doping ran as fast as the wheels of the runners and dozens of women in their twenties walked through the finish lines of the cycling races distributing smiles among runners of the same age. Sometimes, everything turned into a delirium that ended with cyclists running away from their rooms, athletes who forgot that the next day they had to cycle 200 kilometers. And all for a tempting midnight kiss…or something else.

Kisses are something intimate. It is true that when you travel to France and do the Tour, many times colleagues kiss you, as something normal, something established, sometimes strange to the south of the Pyrenees. But it has nothing to do with the custom imposed for so many decades. The winner of the stage arrives and two women stand to the right and left of the podium and leave the lipstick mark on the cyclist’s cheeks. Everything so normal. Until, in Australia, in the middle of the last decade, someone said what they are about. The trophy could be the cup, the sculpture, but not that a girl you don’t know at all, due to the demands of the script, kissed you while holding you by the waist to celebrate a success that was not hers and that deep down he didn’t care who turned out to be the winner of the day.

The Women’s Tour

A few weeks ago, when the Vuelta, which begins this Saturday in Barcelona (please, don’t miss the first stage), was still a project, the women cyclists arrived in Pau where the second women’s Tour organized by ASO, the company owner of the French and Spanish rounds. There were leaders, sponsors, teams that had something to celebrate, from winning the general classification to celebrating victory in a stage. There was a podium, cups to display, smiles to share. Nobody thought of going up to the podium to kiss, less on the lips, to the champions. And much less throw away with unpresentable behavior the effort of months of work, of sacrifice. Because winning the Tour, being a man or a woman, is not an easy task. It is not getting on the bike, pedaling hard and simply dreaming of wearing yellow. Or in red in the Vuelta. They are weeks of spartan training, a forced diet, a gym, necessary rest and saying no to friends, all under 30 years old; refusing to dine in a restaurant and the consequent drink enlivened with music in a fashionable venue in any European city.

It never occurred to anyone in Pau to spoil the successes of Demi Vollering, the Tour winner, or any of her absurd-lipped peloton mates. And in the Vuelta there will be no kisses from the past in any of the 21 goals yet to be decided. A stewardess and a stewardess will deliver the red jersey and, without physical contact, a photo will serve as testimony of a feat achieved with sweat and pedaling. The world moves on. Some seem not to know. and so it goes.


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