When the group of escapees began to climb the second pass, Marc Soler asked his team, the UAE, for water. But he was left with the desire because there were a few who had been left behind and the car could not pass. They saw him from the Movistar, his previous group, and solicitous and generous they gave him one of their own drums. A favor among friends and a nod to the past, because 121 stages later a Spaniard won a stage again in one of the grand tours.
The globalization of the peloton, the technological modernization that allows any cyclist anywhere in the world to be controlled instantly, the lack of a clear replacement after glorious years of Spanish cycling (Contador, Purito, Valverde, Freire, Samuel Sanchez…) and the precarious economy led to an unprecedented drought for national cycling. “There are many Spaniards in many teams, but sometimes they have to work for others because there are great leaders in the structures. In addition, we are 180 runners of many nationalities and it costs a lot. But we also won and here we are”, resolved Soler after uncorking the mammoth bottle of cava on the podium and taking a drink that tasted like heaven.
Five full Grand Tours and five stages have passed in this Spanish round since a Spaniard won. It happened in La Vuelta 2020, at the Formigal ski resort (Huesca), when Ion Izagirre got into the good breakaway – his older brother Gorka was also there – and left everyone on the last slopes. The penultimate victory, three stages earlier, was achieved in Lekumberri, precisely by Marc Soler. “After the team change [de Movistar a UAE] and from a time when things were not going well for me, this triumph makes me especially excited. Besides, it’s at home. I’m happy”, explained the cyclist.
Soler was referring to his list of recent calamities, since in 2021 he left the Giro after hitting a bump and injuring his shoulder and several little things; he also got off the Tour of that course with both broken arms —although he finished the stage and endured on the bike and in this way for 46 kilometers—; and in the last Tour, a complicated day between stomach problems and vomiting, he reached the Foix finish line out of time. “Lately, I haven’t found the best feelings, but UAE has always trusted me and I had a thorn in my side from the last Tour. I wanted to show that I can win at some point and I have achieved it”, he reviewed.
It had not been an easy change for Soler, who at Movistar was one of the values to exploit, also a luxury gregarious at times. “They made me be the runner that I am, but I needed new challenges, new illusions. Matxin told me that he wanted me to help Tadej Pogacar and the three-week tests are perhaps not on my mind anymore because of the team I am in and the leaders I have. But I can have days like today and you have to enjoy it, ”he accepted. Few like Bilbao. “He deserves it”, collected the witness Matxin; “Especially because until gastroenteritis prevented him from finishing the Tour, he gave up his life to help Tadej”.
Soler knows that he is in La Vuelta to help João Almeida, a candidate to fight for the general classification. But he already has candy, even though he didn’t have them all with him because on the climbs the day before his legs didn’t go as he wanted. “I didn’t have my best day, it was weird. But at this stage it was going well and, although I didn’t expect it or believe it until there were 500 meters to go, I was able to finish off and I’m very happy”, acknowledged the cyclist while pointing out that the mood of the public on the climb to Alto del Vivero. Matxin, who spurred him on the last climb to attack and not stop until the end, praised him: “Marc is talented, an exceptional person and he has a lot of race”. The same was the opinion of Igor Anton, who won his stage of La Vuelta in 2011 —after a semi-mandatory absence of 33 years in the Basque Country for political (ETA) and economic reasons— on the same slopes: “He is a good successor, a rider Tall. And to win like that you have to have a lot of control.” That and legs, also head and claw, a concoction that has ended 121 stages of Spanish drought.
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Source: EL PAIS