We are writing these words as we make our way in the convoy towards the west of France, some 500 kilometers and a 6-hour journey from the finish line of the 9th stage in the Pyrenees.
Why do we mention that? Maybe as a reminder that the life of a pro cyclist does not resemble in any way that of the Messi‘s or Neymar’s. It’s a life of athletes who labor hard and are expected to handle what comes their way with dignity and tolerance.
So, it wasn’t a surprise to see Israeli Guy Niv celebrating his first nine days, 1,200 km, and the 30 categorized climbs (so far) of his first-ever tour with a few slices of pizza as if they were the most significant prize.
Or the great Andre Greipel, that is happy to still be in the game after his war of attrition. He raged in the climbing stages, hanging in there, still carrying his crash scars, with a mission to be there in the coming stages when he has a chance to do what he does best: the sprint.
Or even Dan Martin, who hasn’t yet been able to show his best here, still suffering from his nagging back injury. But today, he went deep into his pain zone to prove to himself that he will soon hit his stride: “It was important as training. But I killed myself to go in the break, and then still went hard at the end. Better times are coming. My back is not yet 100%, though”.
And Ben Hermans? Suffering from some stomach issues – he battled all day just to recuperate and maybe go at it again.
The team has shown their fighting spirit in the last week plus – surprising everyone around with four top-ten finishes and a solo escape, and got tons of credit and worldwide media coverage.
Rest day tomorrow: Relax a bit and return even stronger.
Pictures: Noa Arnon and Bettini Photo