at Col du Granon, the miracle of the last kilometer – Liberation

Wandering at 2,400 meters above sea level, just before the end of this fourth leg, saw Vingegaard snatch his crown from Pogacar. The rough place is filled with pastoral sweetness, as beautiful as the race.

A kilometer from the finish line, Granon surrendered in complete silence. One last breath before the last meters. No more screaming or shaking. They will choose more. The collar is a soft curve. No pins or jerks. The pain of climbing is hidden there, 11.3 km at a rate of 9.2%. Never before has the Tour gone so high, exceeding 2,400 metres, except this time in Galibier. Do we need such a pastoral and at the same time theater to rise above fugitives? They are approaching. Speakers will soon be talking about “dramatic” and of “comedy”.

800 meters from the line, a man was lying on the grass. Crossed legs, face immersed in a book full of metaphors and poetry, of very physical journeys or full of dreams. He read old tree by Olga Tokarczuk. Speak: “I still haven’t decided if I’m one or not.”

At an altitude of 700 meters, the view expands. Sheep nets protect the area – Granon is located in the Natura 2000 area. Landscape of green sand dunes. Shaved grassland. Downstairs, you can smell thorns and burning. The ground is dry as sand. There it looked verdant, punctuated by rocky outcrops. Lemongrass, a flower-like flower, purple ranunculus, mealybug primates, grows here and there. The flocks of sheep have recently been moved: chaos of supporters attacking the animals and guard dogs. Here, herders go to the summer pasture in groups, in pastoral groups.

500 meters away, a duo of amateur cyclists under a Pelforth parasol. They speak with a southern accent, come from the Pyrenees, wear coffee espadrilles, have never climbed such an arduous pass. A reassuring breeze, coming around a bend two kilometers below, was cooling. At an altitude of 400 meters, a bald man with a mad dog swoops down before the arrival of the fugitives, “willing to argue with people”.

At 350 meters, a blood red card praises Gaudu, Pinot and Bardet, hating Pogacar, who will pedal fast thanks to the dope. Slovenian supporters are positioned right at this level. They came from Maribor, in the east of the country, on a four-day Tour. Shake your head in the air when translating the text on the road. The French will be too chauvinistic. They like Pogacar, Roglic, Mohoric… Actually, all of them are Slovenian.

250 meters away, the rock sheep stables are actually military barracks, of the seven battalion of alpine hunters. At an altitude of 100 meters, the panorama can be seen as nowhere. To the east, behind Mount Pelvoux, the Ecrins massif melted into the clouds. A blue fan joins the horizon. La Meije and the Lambs have black spines.

At a height of 50 meters, an apostle with a long brown buckle in his cycling jacket. It is covered with an earthy canvas. Bicycles have motors surrounding it. Two hundred or more people are lying on the moor, as in a bed, on their backs, on their stomachs. A bar that offers sandwiches but Granon has wild ingredients: sweet cherries, mini cherries, blueberries and plums from Briançon, “Ugly fruit even with 1 kg of sugar” according to a locality.

At an altitude of 25 meters we find alpine hunters. They do their work here “Small Com”. The advertising convoy had no place at this height, but a soldier with huge black eyebrows as if embroidered on his face displayed submachine guns, pens and cans – gizzard salad and red quinoa.

At the finish line, Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) crossed the line and celebrated like a child. By raising his finger, as he slaughtered his opponent, Tadej Pogacar, with a chisel. The last one to emerge, without a smile has captivated each time he has come on the Tour for two years. He slipped out of the saddle, having a spasm. Granon has revealed a new yellow jersey, with crazy powers.

And then 50 meters after the end: Romain Bardet also just finished. He is sitting on a rock. Grasp his face in his hand. His feet almost fell into the air. La Roche Gauthier, on the other side of the Granon, a barren and massive mountain, submissive to cyclists. Bardet finds himself alone in the world. No one came to pick him up. Below, a shepherd’s hut appeared in view.


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