Itzulia 2024: Vingegaard and Roglic, rivals on the road for the first time | Cycling | Sports

One hundred years ago, a conspicuous journalist, who years later would show his chameleonic skin, and an aristocrat of pedigree, traveled to Paris to try to convince another notable person that his idea could succeed with a little help. One was Jacinto Miquelarena, whom Pedro Mourlane would immortalize, with that phrase “what a country Miquelarena”, after hearing a military commander give an absurd order to a soldier. The other, José María Vilallonga y Medina, second count of Vilallonga, born in Seville and who had been president of Athletic, signed the best coach in its history, Mr. Pentland, at the exclusive Savoy hotel in London, and was the grandson of the blessed Rafaela de Ybarra, with a street in Bilbao.

Both represented the newspaper Excelsior, the first sports newspaper founded in Spain, which was printed on the press that the American magnate William Randolph Hearst had given to the PNV, through Sir Ramón de la Sota, for his contribution to his country’s war effort in World War I. World. They went to Paris to meet with Henri Desgrange, the absolute leader of the Tour de France. They wanted to organize the Tour of the Basque Country in the image and similarity of the French race, although on a small scale, and the patron of the Tour was interested in the idea, promoted it and helped by calling some of the best cyclists in his country, among them They, the Pelissier brothers, Francis, winner of the first edition, and Henri, who finished second, in a fraternal exhibition of three stages beginning and ending in Bilbao, 623 kilometers under torrential rain, although it was August.

One hundred years later, with the Tour involved again – he is in charge of the accreditation procedures – differences like the one Henri Pelissier achieved, 15 minutes over his brother, seem unthinkable, but the emotion in Itzulia remains intact , because every year there is some incentive, in the route or the participation. At the start of Irún, for the initial ten-kilometre time trial, with two scoring difficulties for the mountains and a final 10% climb, three of the most renowned cyclists in the cycling universe will line up. One of them is Remco Evenepoel, who arrives escorted by Mikel Landa. The other two, Jonas Vingegaard, from Visma, the winner of the last two editions of the Tour, and Primoz Roglic, now in Bora, who have raced together, like brothers for years and who for the first time since 2018 face each other on the road . In 2021, Roglic won the Basque race; Next to him, on the podium, was Vingegaard. It was the first time he was among the top three in a World Tour race; In the last edition, last year, the winner was the Danish cyclist. “It is always fun and challenging to compete against Remco and Tadej. It is always good to know what your position is against them”, points out Vingegaard, at least because of the status of him, the great favorite. “I like to win. It’s never bad for confidence to win races early in the season,” he says.

Like the Count of Vilallonga, who went into exile during the Civil War and died years later in Biarritz, and Jacinto Miquelarena, who became a Falangist and also died in France after jumping onto the Paris metro tracks at the Michel-Ange Molitor station. , when he was diagnosed with cancer, the lives of Roglic and Vingegaard have also been separated in the competition, and perhaps it is the best news for the fans who from Monday to Saturday will crowd the roads between Irún, the starting point, and Eibar, with intermediate stops in Cambó (France), Alsasua, Legutio and Amorebieta. With special attention, of course, to Evenepoel, a specialist in Basque roads. “I have enjoyed competing, both in the Tour of the Basque Country and in the San Sebastián Classic, and as always it will be a very demanding course against a very strong group. I am especially looking forward to riding with Mikel in his home region, knowing that the local fans are so knowledgeable and passionate about cycling.” One hundred years later, history repeats itself.

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