25th 2015 July, Saint Jean d’Arves
In Modane there is the mountain’s air that makes the pois sheets wave on the town hall’s windows. There is the sun but you feel good with the sweatshirt. The only one I put in my suitcase. They tell that the French are good at make brioches but I didn’t find one since I am here. The Boulangerie’s woman is shocked because we ask her in two different languages what’s inside a cake but she speaks just French and she looks at us with gaping eyes.
No cake. And no contact with the athletes, it seems, since the start area is completely cordoned. Also the buses’ one. I didn’t believe so many barriers could exist. And it’s ok that we are at the Tour but I think this is still an unpleasant thing, even with all the defences of the case.
But on the other side of the fence there is a banner for Vincenzo, four or five CanNibali from Crema. So we start screaming “Ni-ba-li! Ni-ba-li! Ni-ba-li!” and they answer in the same way. We rise our hands like at the stadium, while the gendarmerie walks through us silently. Chants from a barrier to the other, Italy that calls and that answers.
And thank God there is Franco, a dear friend that I meet by chance and gives us two bracelets to go in. I’m happy but just for half. I know, maybe is right so but I can’t stand seeing the people that remain outside. It hurts me a bit as well. Especially when I see the women with a Vincenzo Nibali’s t-shirt leant against the barriers in front of the Astana’s bus. They would like to touch him, to hug him. Because that’s what supporters are like.
The cyclists go towards the signature, people greet them, they scream the names and the athletes smile, they greet back, they give their hands to the children that stick out from the barrier. A guy asks for a selfie to everyone, even Kristoff stops. He devotes some of his time. This is something that makes the cycling big.
Chris Froome does the rollers in front of his bus with some mates, Romain Bardet passes, a child tells to another:”C’est la maillot a pois!”
There is a sort of cult for this jersey, maybe it’s even more loved than the yellow one. Maybe because the mountain is the mountain, there you learn to resist, to fight against yourself, to overtake pain’s threshold. To find a new one and over take that one too. You learn to bear.
The lining up, the countdown.
Today is the Alp’s day.
The road towards home, the Moncenisio again and then Italy.
Today is the Alp’s day.
I watch the last bit of the stage at the Autogrill with a sandwich in the hands and the headphones in the ears: the waitress makes noise with the chairs and the music is too loud, like the conditioned air. I just want to listen to the comments. Nairo is stealing Chris’s seconds , for the first time the yellow Jersey is questioned. I hurt my tounge because the cheese is too hot. Thibaut Pinot arrives alone at the Alp D’Huez and if there would have been another day in the mountains Quintana would have taken the Tour the France, with an almost perfect shot. I look at the uninterrupted writing on the side of the Alp’s asphalth, the people who scream. The infinite people. I cry a bit, with the elbows on the Autogrill’s table with the too high conditioned air and the people that ask for mineral water.
We’re hungry of life. And again, and again.
Translated by Martina Meroni.
Original version here → #ONTHETOUR | SIAMO CAN-NIBALI