Primoz Roglic crosses the finish line with his jersey broken by the fall.BENOIT TESSIER / Reuters

Jonathan Castroviejo, from Biscay, is an engineer of the time, and a worker, as Celaya sang, a mind made of pedaling, minutes, seconds and tenths, that guides Egan in the Giro, life in pink and foam of prosecco rosé, that He waits for Geraint Thomas, calms him down, gives him food, sets the pace, tucks him in. Thomas, a Welshman, is a tremendous bullfighter, who falls on the crossing of La Trinidad del Mar along with the usual panzer Tony Martin, the filler, on the wet ground, treacherous Breton asphalt, and black clouds in the sky, and on the ground , lying on a puddle, he moans, his shoulder hurts, which has dislocated and the doctors, hot, remake the joint. When, younger, he played Castroviejo for Chris Froome, Thomas was already one who fell often – he has lived without a spleen since he was 18 years old, which was removed after another fall – but then he did not complain or cry about a bone damaged but because with the strokes he lost his lucky white-rimmed glasses, fetishist pain.

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At the age of 35, Thomas, winner of a Tour de France, favorite for this one, already needs gregarious nurses at his side, and half a platoon too, young and old, condemned to varied and horrific falls, and, as everyone announced for days, unavoidable, and without the need for grandchildren with cardboard. Thomas falls and almost at the end Primoz Roglic, the great favorite, falls, Superman falls and the sprinters, Démare, Sagan, Caleb Ewan, vehicle drivers who reach a speed they cannot control, fall. They fall gregarious and figures fall. And the asphalt is red. The mark of a killer Tour. Mathieu van der Poel does not fall, white teeth, wide white smile, clear, playful eyes, immune to mishaps, yellow jersey that shines with two kilometers to go when he shoots in front of the already reduced peloton to launch his teammate Tim Merlier, the unknown sprinter who won a stage in the Giro and also wins in Pontivy, next to the fairy-like castle of Josselin. “I stepped forward to be safer and to help Merlier”, recognizes Poulidor’s grandson, a light that illuminates the blackness of the day, which hurts from falls, the result, he says, of excessive speed and bad travel. They all say it.

The runners had warned it, and at the start they told each other in the chat of the CPA, their union. “That ending is criminal, there will be falls, it will be horrible,” warned Imanol Erviti, a Movistar worker. “We have asked that the three kilometer rule [no se contabiliza el tiempo perdido por caídas o averías] It is extended to the last eight, because there are some very dangerous descents, and thus those who dispute the general classification do not have to fight for space with the sprinters. They have ignored us ”. The shock is tremendous.

Roglic, of the general, reaches 50 per hour with his Jumbo in full (except for poor Gesink) protecting him from the wind on the left and tries to fit in the space already occupied by Sony Colbrelli, sprinter with, what less, the name of boxer. Neither of them gives up their living space. The two get hooked. Roglic, lighter, is thrown violently. Colbrelli, in the Italian way, gives a gesture to the fallen one of what you had believed. At night, perhaps tormented, he explains through the networks that he is sorry, but that it is not his fault, that the gesture with his arm to send him around was nothing more than a reaction to the fear that had happened. The Tour maintains a sprinter who is bulging and perhaps loses a winner.

“The images speak for themselves,” is outraged Laurent Jalabert, the French television commentator. “The crashes were inevitable. How is it possible that the Tour is taken on these narrow, complicated roads, in the third stage, when the first sprint is expected? And the runners, forced by so many circumstances that enslave them, go too fast ”. The 183 kilometers of the third Breton stage, between the Lorient submarine base and Pontivy, sought out the most photogenic and touristic corners of the region, the most antiTour. The runners took only four hours to go through them, more than 45 on average. The last 20 kilometers, the matadors, made them at more than 50 on average, at more than 60 on average the last 1,000 meters, with their exaggerated developments with which they can pedal even on the descents, and accelerate and accelerate, and from the The directors cheer, all in front, do not lose your head, do not lose your position, the eight of the team together … “And instead of running as before, as a collective the whole peloton, we run more and more individually, looking for the evil of the neighbor, and this is not cycling ”, says Eusebio Unzue, head of Movistar, who sees several of his people on the ground every day. Like everyone. Like Marc Madiot, director of the Groupama, who loses his sprinter, Arnaud Démare in an impossible curve at four kilometers, and is outraged and shouts to the microphones on TV: “We cannot continue like this. This is no longer cycling. This is not worthy of our sport. Children see it, families see it, people are horrified. It just makes you want to close your eyes like in horror movies. “

Valverde is an artist and a child, which are synonymous, he has aged on the outside alone, less hair, more wrinkles, and with Erviti, a bike worker, he arrives late to the finish line. They are working, taking care of their fallen, they take Superman to his wheel, who went to the ground less than 15 kilometers, just when the Tour stopped being a cycling race to become a Roman circus, with bleeding gladiators at each curve, with Primoz Roglic, the great favorite also on his wheel, his shorts torn, his left leg a complete injury. Superman fell at 14 kilometers, Roglic at 10. His frantic pursuit, without calm, accelerated, does not need metronomes, but speed, but is disturbed by the cyclists fallen on the ground, attended by the assists. The platoon has been broken, metaphorically, spiritually and physically. It is not a group, but small combos of survivors, of lifeboats. Valverde’s men have to avoid Ewan (broken collarbone), still fallen in the curve 500 meters from the finish line, who cross Merlier and Carapaz at 1m 21s, the only unscathed favorite. Mas and Nairo have lost 14s, Pogacar and Thomas, 26s. In the general, Pogacar already leads the other Slovenian, who is no longer his Siamese, by 56s. Haig, the leader of Bahrain has retired (concussion, head trauma with disorientation), and also Gesink (broken clavicle, concussion), Roglic’s route captain (tailbone trauma), all victims of a Tour that no longer needs the Roubaix stage to have his blood day. The falls, of course, are also part of the show.

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