Juan Ayuso, Carlos Rodríguez: generation Z of Spanish cycling becomes champion in Itzulia | Cycling | Sports


The stories pile up at the end of the disastrous week of cycling and, with the fabulous cyclists of Itzulia absent and injured, and without a high finish, before the platoons arrive in the ditches around Éibar, Van der Poel is spoken of as one could talk about Verstappen, another extraordinary Dutchman, and a chicane between cobblestones in the mystical Arenberg forest, in Northern France, above the coal mines, where hell froze in the Quaternary and left such fertile lands as a memory that it was impossible to travel between them if the roads were not lined with pieces of granite extracted in distant quarries, and cyclists challenge them year after year, between Paris and Roubaix, since 1896, and they will do it again on Sunday, and learned amateurs lecture about the tube that in a hospital in Vitoria, sweet drowsiness of tramadol, they have inserted into the side of Jonas Vingegaard’s chest, suffering, up to the parenchyma, they explain, the lung tissue, to stop, with negative and regulated pressure, with care to not to break the parenchyma, to expel the mass of air that has collapsed his lung in a pneumothorax since a rib pierced it during the terrible fall on Thursday.

When the runners arrive, the fans rub their eyes, erase the sad imagined reality from their gaze and allow themselves to be dazzled by a race they did not remember, as if the forced disappearance of Remco, Vingegaard and Roglic, and their teams that condemned Itzulia to being another stop on their exhibition tour, would have released the hidden forces of great cycling, the desire of young people, the great tactical maneuvers of the UAE so populated with champions, of the generation Z of Spanish cycling, Igor Arrieta, Carlos Rodríguez and Juan Ayuso, txapeldunwho finally expand to their liking, excite, receive from the solemn podium a aurresku in his honor and force the bards to flattery verses.

Carlos Rodríguez, as friendship and the laws of the peloton want, wins the stage, and, as serious and controlled as he is, he even gets emotional, and shows his feelings, although only for a few seconds, raising his eyes and one hand to the sky, I remember and memory of his father who died a few months ago, as soon as he crossed the finish line in the center of Éibar, so many orange t-shirts and ikurriñas waving, so many fans.

“Juan knew that I was going to help him as much as I could and he was going to give me the stage victory. They were common interests,” says the cyclist from Almuñécar, who thanks to his victory finished second overall, after Ayuso. “Yes, yes, in the end, second step, who was going to tell me? The truth is that it is not the best way either, with the big favorites having left… I wish them the speediest recovery, that they come back strong as they are and from here I send them a lot of love. And a lot of encouragement.”

Five years have passed since the last victories of Spanish cyclists in WorldTour races. Enric Mas did it in a Chinese test; Ion Izagirre, in Itzulia, and Juan Ayuso picks him up, so young, so child, receiving, as soon as he crosses the finish line, the hugs and kisses of his mother and his girlfriend, and the insistent kissing of his little dog Truffleso tiny, so loving, and, at the same time, so mature as a cyclist to know how to control and lead in a devilishly complicated stage.

Only among them, rivals since juniors, Carlos Rodríguez has already turned 23 years old. Ayuso, already on the podium in the Vuelta at 19, second in Switzerland at 20, and Arrieta are still at 21. The three put the peloton at their feet. Arrieta, the first 110 kilometers of the stage; Ayuso and Rodríguez, the last 30, in which in the successive ascents to Izua and Urkaregi, and in their insidious, ambushed descents, they ended the last resistance of Mattias Skjelmose, the leader in yellow. And together they entered the last stretch. But to achieve this, they first had to isolate Skjelmose, leaving the same Dane without Lidl teammates who defeated Ayuso a year ago, and already appears, in the Tour of Switzerland. Arrieta performed before, who surprises those responsible for the UAE every day, so strong, so much class that he shines in the most cycling valleys.

Arrieta, in his favorite field, that of Balenciaga, the biggest test of the under-23s in Spain, was the star, the key segment that held the UAE goal on which Ayuso, his boss, pedaled. The son of José Luis Arrieta, road captain for Banesto for so many years, infiltrated the first great escape, 21 runners, he pushed it, accelerated it, and from there he awaited the arrival of his teammate Marc Soler, the second torpedo of the UAE, which had attacked in Krabelin, the hidden climb to the Arrate sanctuary, narrow roads, gradients of 18%. He pulled the Catalan and forced Lidl to chase. Skjelmose was left alone, and Ayuso, 30 minutes from the finish line, confirmed that he could handle him. And he didn’t stop until the end.

And after a few minutes, reviewing Ayuso’s upcoming program towards his debut in the Tour -Amstel, Flecha, Liege, Romandía–, and the fantasy of something epic in the Ardennes with his leader Pogacar shines, the fans are already thinking about the Sunday.

The thing about Van der Poel and the chicane, an island, a hairpin curve, to prevent the peloton from entering wildly, sharp knives, at 70 per hour on the eternal Arenberg straight, is interesting because, after the individual recital of Poulidor’s grandson , shoulders of a dockworker, legs of Percherón, devastating march, in the Tour of Flanders last Sunday, and without a Van Aert or a Jorgenson who can hug him, only the route, in a weather that is announced as summer, or an accident could stand between him and a second victory in the Hell of the North.

Vingegaard’s lungs are of interest because his recovery can affect the calculations made by the coaches who prepare him to defend his last two victorious Tours. “It depends on the size of the lung contusion, but at most it will be over in a week,” predicts Luis González Lago, a Baskonia doctor and traumatologist whose table has seen a good number of cyclists with broken bones of all kinds. “First we have to save his life, then there will be time to put a plate with screws in his collarbone, and in a few days he will be pedaling. If there is nothing strange, he should arrive to the Tour in time.” The Dane’s initial plan did not include any competitions in the remainder of April and the month of May, but rather concentrations at altitude. He should return to competition on June 2 in the Dauphiné. “He’s improving at full speed,” his agent, Mattia Galli, tells him from the hospital. “Fast as on a bike.”

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