7.31.2016

Tour de France 2016 Reportage 6: At the Podium in Emosson and adventurous travel back

Zakarin came like a thrown stone. I could see him very well from my place, precarious but just above the finish, on a rocky slope. My goal was about 100 m away but I have got a firm hand and shot. 
The second one was Pantano, he appeared from behind the corner head down on the handlebar, his face covered by the top of the white helmet shining in the sun. He was here, he rose his face and I saw he was smiling, or maybe his mouth was open to grab more air. He was in need of full breathing after the brutal effort. 
The finish was uphill, Zakarin was just over the line and a chaperon was running to stop his bike and to push it a little further, to the flat dirty road toward the podium. His face was mute, he looked empty. The arm he had risen, his body still low over the tube, was now abandoned. All the energy was gone. Accomplished, done, too tired to show the joy of the conquest.
But before it was the motorbikes' sirens, the team cars at full speed, the organisation's cars, masseurs and mechanics walking toward the line, photographers lining just beyond it, standing or crouched down. It was the crowd stopping breathing, the voice of the speacker, a big roar, the flags waving. The winner! the first chasers! the group....! 
I saw a rider crying, exhausted. Others giving it all to gain few seconds. Faces I know and faces of I don't remember. What a terrible thing a great race is! drained but proud, unable to walk at the moment or to get off their bike but ready to get in tomorrow, the riders arrived one by one or in small shattered groups. Chris Froome was on Richie Porte's wheel, both looking worn out.
"Let's go". There was a huge crowd already in front of the podium and blocking the road to the team buses and the dam. My son climbed on a pole like a well rised monkey and took some quite good shots. Then we had to cross a steep stretch of grass and to climb over a fence to go beyond the podium. I put my boots on the fence but remained there a little, unsure if I could jump on the road or I need to step somewhere... "NOT on my bike!" I woman was. Her bike was exactly under me so YES, on her bike no doubt, unless she was quick on moving it. It was just a second, a little step and a short jump. Off to the bus without looking behind!
"He did it!" I said Danny - Trek's bus driver - and he was: "Yep, few seconds". Indead Bauke Mollema was still in 2nd GC position but he had lost time today. He was going to gain it back by a wonderful itt the next day... to lost everything in a crash. From 2nd to 11th. That's cycling. And still a splendid Tour by the Dutch man by the long nose. He'll take his revenge in the Clasica San Sebastian, with a stunning solo victory.
"Who's that? isn't he Fabian? yeah! look! that's Cancellara. No good. He's getting in the car and saying good-bye". Here I saw the last of Fabian Cancellara's last Tour de France. Not happy to quit still forced to. He had honoured his land bring the bike up there but it was time to go, to think to the Olympic Games.
It was time for us to run to the La Verticale again and to travel back all the way to Martigny where we were supposed to arrive around 9 pm. There was a huge queue, patient and relaxed. People commentating the race, fans from different countries taking pictures of each others. 
Waiting for the last cableway something unpleasant happened: a man was ostinately skipping the queue. When he brutally stepped in front of me I said in French: "Hey? why are you passing in front of me? we are all waiting.", "I don't understand" he quickly said in English avoiding any eye contact. "I speack English very well" I insisted "Why are you passing me? you were behind." I looked at him: he wasn't young not very old, about 60, maybe less, wearing an expensive hiking attire. A poor woman walked after him in silence. He kept violently talking against me,without listening, looking away, pushing in front. "Shut up and listen!" I finally exclaimed "I am a woman and you have an age you must know you are being unpolite. You can have the place but you must know it.", "Yes I know" he hissed, and, to his wife: "Awful". They took the last two places in the cabine and we watched him pushing the people inside to get more room... We found them siting apart in Chatelard, waiting for the last train to Martigny, the only one we all got in twenty minutes later. All his pushing had been for nothing. I felt pain for him and forgot my rage.
It wasn't over yet! In the last station before Martigny the train stopped. There was a big problem: the train coming up had had an accident and was blocking the line. It was too far to walk and we could do nothing but wait. It took them almost one hour to have the train removed and the line fixed, we arrived at 10 pm in a hot lively Martigny, full of bars and music. Unfortunately we were too tired to apreciate and we went straight to our bnb, in an ancient house finely restored. It was late, it was awfully hot, the bathroom was on the stairs and the bed was definitely too soft. In add it was covered on a fleece sheet! I layed a towel on the floor and slept there. 
We woke up at six and not just because we had decided to but because the church was next to the house and the bells were singing as hell. We had not even unpacked so we just excaped from Martigny. The train brought us to Brig and from there to Milano. But that's a different story.

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