Thursday, September 21, 2023

Pello Bilbao breaks the Spanish curse on the Tour

There were many emotions because bilbao hair he wanted to win the initial stage that he passed through his house. He remembered his friend Gino Mäder, who was killed last month in the Tour of Switzerland. On the podium he looked up to the sky and dedicated the victory to her. 101 stages later, since July 21, 2018, when another Biscayan, Omar Fraile, won at the Mende aerodrome, there had been no Spanish triumph in the Tour de Franceas if it were a curse, which had not happened since the grandparents Miquel Poblet or Federico Bahamontes put on the champions’ uniform in the 50s of the last century.

Bilbao is a finisher, he would be a goalscorer if he dedicated himself to another sport. He is one of those who, if they escape, does not do it to be captured and give their sponsor free kilometers of television advertising. If Pello escapes it is to win, as he did in Issoire and to also placed in fifth place overall.

When the Tour was about to give birth, his parents were having dinner in a restaurant in Gernika and talking about their son. Julen, the father, recommended the local hake and the peppers that are cared for with care in the village. He said that they never encouraged his son to become a cyclist, that He started with soccer until he became disillusioned with the ball. Her mother, Elena, added that she did not miss a stage of her son and that, unlike other mothers, if she suffered, she carried it inside. Juan, his uncle, who lives in Tarragona, proclaimed that his nephew would win a stage in this Tour. And it is that there is no bigger fan of Pello than Juan Bilbao in the whole world, nor perhaps his parents. His house looks like a sanctuary dedicated to Pello, because his grandfather had been a cyclist until the civil war destroyed his sporting dreams, like that of so many other young people of the time.

Pello slipped into the good getaway. He carried fearsome foes like Julian Alaphilippe and Michal Kwiatwoski, two former world champions. The Tour had become a frying pan and on top of that, at the beginning, Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar decided to play cat and mouse and escaped to set off all the alarms. But Pello already walked with them. The day was marked in red and because of the Gernika tree, victory was not going to escape him.

From the beginning of the Tour it was known that if there was a cyclist predestined to raise his arms in a stage, it should be Pello, who had already won the Giro, who is fast, who is good tactically and who even rides much better than Mikel Landa, appointed from the outset as the leader of Bahrain, the team of both.

So when Vingegaard and Pogacar got tired of playing, the breakaway of the day was formedin which the Catalan Antonio Pedrero was also going, all or nothing, forward, that if they pushed behind it was to arrive sooner and not experience so much heat through lands of ancient volcanoes.

It was always the Bilbao group that dominated the stage. You had to push, but not go too far because if Pello, 11th until Tuesday, broke the bench then all the teams, including Jumbo and UAE, would shoot like crazy and it would be the death of the escape.

Nor was it necessary to lose the north when, already in the final phase of the stage, the Latvian cyclist Krists Neilands decided to escape. Tranquility, Pello would capture him, because the best thing for him was not the rival who pedaled in front, but behind Alaphilippe, the only one faster than him, the one who could steal victory from him, had stayed at the last little port of the day.

So, with cold blood, he caught up with Neilands and prepared to win, to dedicate the victory to Mäder, to climb to fifth place in the general standings and to break the tremendous Spanish drought. “There were many emotions in one day -he confessed after the victory-. Gino had given me strength, even when I was training before the Tour and I was afraid on the descents. It was a very intense Tour, from the start in Bilbao. I wanted to try to win in San Sebastián. That’s why I had to calculate at this stage. I knew I was the fastest.” And he won so that all of Gernika exploded with joy, Julen and Elena, at his discretion, Juan, in his total happiness, and Andrea, his wife, with little Martina in her arms, after following him to the end of the Pyrenees. . 101 stages later Pello broke the curse.


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