Third stage for Démare the day Bardet, sick, leaves the Giro d’Italia | Sports

 Third stage for Démare the day Bardet, sick, leaves the Giro d'Italia |  Sports

Démare, second from the left, beats Bauhaus, Gaviria and Cavendish.LUCA BETTINI (AFP)

The platoon devours the escapees on Via Roma. Last straight. Sprint in Cuneo. Via Nice. Démare’s victory, the third of the man in cyclamen. The Alps, shrouded in mist, so close, beyond the Langhe, land of partisans, await. Cogne arrives on Sunday, in the Gran Paraíso park, already in Aosta, it will be cleared up for the runners who want, at last, to unravel the Giro del wear, at more than 45 per hour through the Piedmontese fields, which has been carried ahead to Romain Bardet, sick with heat and stomach.

Bardet does not arrive in Cuneo, where Egan Bernal is, who spends a few days on vacation with Mafe, his girlfriend, and has passed from his Monaco through Piedmont where he spent his first months in Europe. On Thursday, at a cycling party, he goes on stage and, 115 days after an accident that left him on the verge of quadriplegia, he says that he dreams of running the Vuelta, but that everything is still up in the air, that he trains for two hours a day, but he cannot say if he will run again in July, in August, when. “But what a joy to come back,” he says.

There is no joy but tears for the French cyclist in his search for fulfillment. Fresh from San Remo towards the plateau and the hectic Tyrrhenian, Bardet cries on the burning asphalt, Tour heat in May, The fourth-placed overall rider stopped, got off his bike, sat on the ground and, his face is white, white, says Marco Saligari, from the RAI motorcycle, and he puts his hands to his stomach, which hurts. As the DSM car catches up with him, Bardet, 31, gets in, sits in the passenger seat, and cries again. His team reports: “Romain got sick on Thursday during the Genoa stage and at night he got worse. He has done everything possible to continue, but it is impossible”.

He fled from a French team, from the Tour, and from the excessive expectations that weighed a ton on him after having finished second and third in two Tours, and in the Dutch team he spoke freely, the pressure sucks me, I’m not afraid anymore responding to the wishes of others, I had gone too far in my introspection, in my fears, it was all over. He spoke like this on the eve of the Giro, and he lied. He remembered how he had enjoyed that mental freedom last Giro, seventh, and the Vuelta, where he won in Las Villuercas, over Guadalupe, but he thought he would win the Giro.

The necessary contradiction of the high-level athlete. Whether he likes it or not, he will always have pressure, the desire to stand out, to get out of the pack and climb alone, in front of everyone, when he comes to a mountain, and he tries it last Sunday at the Blockhaus, and he is accompanied by Landa and Carapaz, who suffers at his wheel. And the three of them believe, they know, that one of them will be the ultimate winner. The tension of desire gives meaning to his job, to the sacrifices, to the two blows he gives himself to the head, in the Volta of 19, disoriented on the ground, looking lost, it seems so fragile, so vulnerable, and in the Tour of the 20th. Carapaz and Landa are more alone, and on Tuesday, the Valico de Santa Cristina.

Alejandro Valverde does not find the expected happiness in his last Giro, a Giro that reaches the Basilica of Superga, the sacred slope of the Milan-Turin, the oldest Italian classic, and in front of Valverde Valverde’s head forks, like the paths of a garden, where to go, a choice, a doubt. “Mentally… at the moment we’re still among the best in the general standings”, says the Murcian, tenth, 1m 23s behind Juanpe, always pink. “Let’s see, let’s see if we can try to win a stage. It is clear that if you are involved there it will be much more difficult, because they will not let me enter a breakaway and I have to play it against the strongest, but let’s see what the team decides, if we continue, if we get up the foot, or what do we do…”

– But, what does the body ask of you?

– Man, I would like to win a stage. In the end, do seven than eight in the general classification… I like a stage… The one in Turin, the Superga, is very good, let’s see if there is no escape and we will try to be there, of course, I have already done second and third in Milan-Turin, it’s time to win.

The team had promised him freedom and joy on his farewell Giro, and, says Eusebio Unzue, his team leader, that is still the case. The promise still stands. “The only thing that interests us is his happiness,” says Unzue, who assures that the fact that Sosa, the theoretical leader of Movistar, is not up to the task does not influence the absolute freedom of the Murcian. “We already knew, we already knew… The problem is that Valverde is so professional that he is unable to lift his foot, let himself go, wasting time on purpose to have freedom of movement”.

The same personality as Vincenzo Nibali, who would love to throw himself down Superga on Saturday towards the Po that awaits him, a relegation to Nibali, a victory as a Lombardy, and Valverde at his side, or Pozzovivo. Between the three of them, and after more than half a Giro, they are among the top 13 in the general classification, they are almost 120 years old. The number frightens and admires, and also bores the Murcian, who contributes 42 to the sum (40 will make Pozzovivo in November and 38 for Shark), and he responds with annoyance, as if the fact that there are so many old people upstairs detracts from his own story. “It’s clear that we’re still there, we’re in good shape and that’s it,” he says.

– Juanpe is coming… Does it take away any weight that there is a young Spaniard in pink?

– No, man, I weight I have none. It is clear that the fact that Juanpe is there is a source of pride. He has been there for many days and he is holding up very well. And in Spain we have, we have young people, there is Landa too, there is Pello, we have Enric… We have a lot of people…

– Men, young… And they are over 30 years old, or almost…

– Compared to me they are all young, hahaha…

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