Juanpe López saw the Giro d’Italia in pink and always in a cloud. He speaks in English when asked in Italian and also when asked in Spanish, and in Spanish when asked in English. “I don’t think about the future, what I will become in the future. I only think about the moment, enjoying every minute, day after day. In his bubble, an ideal, mental place, where geography, the temperature, the clock and the oblivion of the world do not influence geography, the kid from Lebrija is the first of his team to stand on the podium, and well before set time. He sits in a chair while other teams arrive, wave, sign and wait impatiently. Go mad with excitement, he says. “It’s amazing, everyone is calling you by your name, asking for pictures… I still can’t believe it.”
Juanpe, impatient on the starting podium, does not know it, but he has an appointment in Messina with the story of Nibali, who arrives in his town, almost at the gates of his family’s stationery, and the rental kiosk of video films in which he spent the idle hours of his childhood, the hours in which he did not take the Benotto with his friends to ride the goat through the streets and paths that lead to the sea, and at Cape Peloro, where the 211-meter pylon, a modest Eiffel Tower through which electricity came to its island, life, from Calabria on gigantic suspended cables. And sometimes he went up to the snows of Etna, the slopes where he found his limits on Tuesday. That was before deciding to take the ferry, kid, emaciated youngster, traveling nights and whole days by train to Tuscany, back and forth every two times three, and becoming a cyclist, and a champion, and becoming the Squalo dello Stretto, the shark he tattooed on his skin.
🦈 @vincenzonibali 🦈
— Tour of Italy (@giroditalia) May 11, 2022
The lives of Juanpe, 24, the name of the future of cycling, and that of Nibali intersect in Messina, where the Shark, at his home, 37, announces that he is quitting the bike, hanging up his bike before leaving. he 38 years old, in October, disputed the Lombardy, the monument dearest to his heart, and a little also the San Remo. At the RAI they take him to the flight studio and there his parents, Giovanna and Salvatore, are waiting for him, and he, so Sicilian, more Italian than anyone else, becomes emotional and his eyes watery, and with watery eyes he said, in a very low voice, so as not to be heard. “It’s my last Giro. It’s my last season in cycling.
On October 8, in Como, he will say goodbye to cycling with Alejandro Valverde, four and a half years his senior. Two of those who left the most mark, with Alberto Contador and Froome, the first two decades of the 21st century. Nibali is for the Italians the new Felice Gimondi, the god of the 60s, the rival always defeated by Merckx, who died just a few kilometers from Messina, while swimming on the beach of Giardino Naxos, in the shadow of the high Taormina. Like Gimondi, and like only Anquetil, Merckx, Hinault, Contador and Froome in history, Nibali won all three majors, a Tour, a Vuelta, two Giros. And he is only the sixth Italian, at the height of Bartali, Coppi, Nencini, still Gimondi, and Pantani, who won the Tour de France in the post-war period. Symbolically, as if it were a well thought-out design, Nibali’s last victory in competition, so far, dates back to last October 1st. It was a stage in the neighboring town of Mascali that earned him victory in the general classification of the Giro de Sicilia. The second was, Classes, Alexander Valverde.
On October 8, he will have already completed 18 years with the best in the world, in some of the best teams, Fassa Bortolo, Liquigas, Astana, Bahrain and Trek, the group in which he arrived in 2020, at 35 years old. , he was already growing a kid from Lebrija, Juanpe López, who saw the announcement of his farewell in pink in his Messina, and is still in his cloud.
And when he takes the floor, and he feels so satisfied to have kept the leader’s pink jersey, all the other cyclists pass in front of him like an arrow, in a hurry to join the boat which will cross the Strait of Messina, 20 minutes, to Calabria. , to begin Thursday the ascent of the peninsula along the tumultuous Tyrrhenian coast. A few minutes before, in the home straight, via Garibaldi next to the port, a Groupama, the Dutch giant Ramon Sinkeldam, had lined up the peloton behind him at more than 70 an hour, and had given his skipper his skipper, the French sprinter Arnaud Démare, who, 200 meters from the last banner, takes the lead and imposes himself in front of the angry Fernando Gaviria, who feels betrayed by his bike, a sprint that neither Cavendish nor Ewan, anchored in a long and endless climb, second class, due to their unwillingness to make long efforts and climb, due to the acceleration in the lead of the teams with rival sprinters. Démare is also cut but manages to chain himself thanks to the effort of his Jacopo Guarnieri, who for one day is not his last man at the finish where, several months after last October and his Paris-Tours, he raises arms again. This is the sixth stage that the best of French sprinters has won in three Giros, and his fifth victory was won a year and a half ago in Cesenatico, the town of Pantani, and he also won a San Remo, as Vincenzo Nibali, who becomes the owner and great protagonist of the last Sicilian day which he announces will be his last Giro. And before that, he approaches Juanpe and congratulates him, and the Lebrija native’s hair stands on end, still excited, proud that “a legend like Nibali” is congratulating him, Juanpe.
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