9TH MARCH 2015
Emotions is a word that I like always less. Devalued, debased, mistaken, mistreated. Maybe is truly always harder to write without slip in the terrible mess of the useless emphasis. However cycling need to keep a sort of logbook, of those written without too many corrections, with the ink’s spots on the dots because the nib was held for too long there. A diary consumed and crinkled like we are after a long trip and a river arrival. So, away all those licked words. The harmony comes by itself.
I had never seen Siena before. This ride, live, neither. My first time here has been an infinite trek among those alleys that seem to be all the same, between light and shadow, between the little shops in the basements of the antique palaces. And the wind. Piazza del Campo opens suddenly after one of the many streets: a bundle of sun, the Palazzo Pubblico’s tower that stands out against the lightblue sky. There are the guys sit that eat, that take photos. And a storm of pigeons that flies always all of a sudden. Maybe I am bewildered and bewitched at the same time.
Because this time, this has been a real beat trip. A lift, almost by chance, itinerary never alike, way back certain for three quarters. Arrival just one. This Piazza, the people that wait the race, mixed with the ones who are in Siena for sightseeing and ask continuously what all this is. The cycling. Is not too easy to explain. You travel, you consume kilometres, you don’t eat a lot for a moment that is true. Is a law that matters also in life. I’m four hundred far from home and is like I am in a family. Maybe I’m just bewildered but never extraneous. It never happened here. If there is something that this sport has always been able to do is to make me feel embraced everywhere, even in palces I’ve never seen in my whole life.
Siena is beautiful. Beautiful to break your breath. And I’m sick of enthusiasm. And I go back to see the ones that aren’t just cyclist but are also friends. You have to know, before talking, you have to hear the half words at the finish line and the chats without brakes shared by chance. Because this is a sport where you can’t stop at the surface: the treasure is underneath, like lots of time happens. The most you know, the most you love. It matters for the important things.
Siena is beautiful. With the lightblue of this sky without a cloud, with the colour of its old walls and the noise of the children that run on the square’s paved. Out there, outside the walls of the city that waits, there are the riders in the middle of the dust. There is Diego Rosa that never forgot his biker’s soul. On the dirt road he has grown up, he has become the guy he is now. With those roads he speaks, they understand him. He stays in the breakaway with the best ones, he rises on his pedals, he doesn’t loose the view of the wheels of the ones in front of him. He’s joung but he has learnt early how to bite the bullet, to repeat that that is not pain. There is Daniel Oss that works for the captain but these roads look too much alike the ones he dreams: hard, evil, good to take out the best of yourself. The limit. They are needed to reach it and overtake it. His sprint doesn’t leave survivors. The wind eats him alone, with the dust. He throws himself downhill, he suffer with the mouth opened in the hardest parts. It’s an important action, one of the sudden and charged up ones that is hard to tell fully. Hideout of hopes because when the legs go, everything is possible. The engine is connected to the brain. Maybe he is already thinking of tomorrow, he already thinks of other sections, even harder. His ones. And even when they reclaim him, he keeps going full speed, in the land of none. Tireless.
There is Sep Vanmarcke, steel’s legs and a bit of badluck in the moments when it’s not needed. Wide and tired pedal, head of who doesn’t want to give up.
Out there the poetry and the silent of the Tuscan hills, of its cypresses, of its little ancient and desert roads that mixed to the gears’ noise, to the brief tornado of dust that rises that bikes’ passage, to the screams of the people who are on the road, among a hill and the other.
At the bottom of the city’s walls there are three of them. The speaker says is. Alejandro Valverde, Zdenek Stybar, Greg Van Avermaet. Also them never give up, used to resist. To everything.
The wind blows even stronger and colder. And Greg sprints as soon as he gets into the city, on the cobbles of the narrow line that takes to Piazza del Campo. There is Santa Caterina still to be done, the last back of a mule that breaks the legs. But Greg bites. And the wait looking to the empty arrival seems endless. Stybar is behind him. Valverde isn’t, this time he surrenders. Just the two of them remain with the last metres. Luck, badluck. The wind changes rapidly, in the good or in the bad. Zdenek lost a Roubaix by a distraction on the Carrefour de L’arbre and last year, on the final sprint, because of a barrier, he crawled his face against the asphalt. A bloody mask. Now he sprints in front of his last rival. Now Piazza del Campo is his. He grasps it in his raised fist, he takes that wind.
Greg straight after. His luck will come. It comes for everyone, for the ones that don’t let anything go, they don’t abandon the already written roads.
It breaks the breath, this race. Especially the last metres: an ordeal before the heaven. It breaks the breath, with the legs that arrive as wood and implore the masseur’s hands. It breaks the legs for its beauty, harsh, evil and amazing.
What remains of that day that you can still see will go away soon with the showers’ water. Soap to remove the road’s dust and to make kinder the thoughts of fatigue, of defeat, of I wish I could have done more. The hills go back to silence, painted by the last sun’s light, with the dark cypresses motionless in the wind. Maybe even the Piazza gets ready for the night. I don’t know, I’m already far away. An intense trip, with no pauses. A pigeons’ flight against the blue, the music of a shop exposed on the ancient courtyard of a palace, an olive tree in a little shady garden closed by a gate made of wrought iron, a man that asks what is happening. That is cycling. Sometimes it’s really hard to explain it, you should just stay there in silence and let it flow into you. It breaks your breath even in this way, staying motionless. Bewitched.
Translated by Martina Meroni
ORIGINAL VERSION >>> DA SPEZZARE IL FIATO