The Jumbos bless Kuss as winner of the Vuelta a España in Cruz de Linares | Cycling | Sports

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Kuss crosses the finish line in La Cruz de Linares after Mas and Ayuso, and ahead of Roglic.Manu Bruque (EFE)

Let them kiss, let them kiss, the fans shout in boxing matches when they suspect that there is a problem, that rather than hitting each other they caress each other with their gloves, and so the three of the Jumbo ascend the last great climb of the Vuelta, grooved cement and vertical in Castañedo’s journey, next to the immense mountains where the happy bears live and the lakes of Somiedo, where not even the endless summer can hurt their greenery, where Vingegaard and Roglic, like loving shepherds, lull Kuss, happy to red, they clothe him, they lead him towards the victory that he has hard-won.

Let them kiss, let them kiss, like three nervous couples, and the audience cheers even happier for the happy ending of the film, the most desired ending. The networks have decided. The torrent of bloody criticism after the Angliru exhibition in which Vingegaard and Roglic followed their instinct as champions, always winners, and forgot that in red was someone who dines every night at their table, who amuses them with their good humor, which relaxes all environments. Jumbo had gone too far in its revolutionary way of managing the collective and leadership. Tradition defeats. The leader is not attacked. The leader is adored and respected. The three of them have coffee on the night of Angliru. They talk. They give up. Kuss imposes his hierarchy in the race for the first time. Roglic and Vingegaard look at each other and accept. If Kuss wins, they understand, at least the other one won’t win, which would hurt his ego more. If Kuss wins they will remember that they owe him a lot. And this is what Vingegaard says: “We had to repay him for everything he has done for us in recent years.”

If it is not boxing, the classics say, cycling is not cycling, but a spectacle of good will. Champions are selfish by nature, and egocentrism always makes them bigger, so they can endure it. The only blows, a legitimate monopoly on violence in a public space privatized by the Vuelta, are given by the national police to a Jumbo assistant who does not know where he is and falls hard at the finish line, before the astonished gaze of his runners whom they he cannot provide his livelihood.

And the fans, that applaud Remco Evenepoel, his cannibalistic bulimia in the valleys and mountains of an unknown Asturias, so much sun, the insatiable appetite of his wounded pride that turns into a flight, a ride, a solo victory, as only he knows how to win, the third victory in this Vuelta, and a heart formed with his hands when crossing the finish line, a gesture he owed to Oumi, his wife. The usual and beloved Evenepoel who wants to continue being so and also be more. “After losing everything between Formigal and Tourmalet, I became a stage hunter, a man on the run for the mountain jersey,” says the 23-year-old Belgian prodigy, whose collapse at Aubisque gave rise to the Jumbo monopoly and which he will see on Sunday in Madrid with a nice American from Durango, Colorado, inherits the red jersey that he wore in Cibeles in 2022. “It’s all part of learning, but I hope it’s the last time that I can’t fight for a general classification.” .

The pride of the superb Belgian also encourages the low, wounded spirit of the three Spaniards crowded behind the Jumbos in the general classification and in the last meters of the climb to the Cruz de Linares, so tough. Bahrain accelerates for Landa, Ayuso accelerates to save his white jersey, Mas accelerates to appear on TV. None of them go very far. They do not escape the control of the Jumbos, led, gregarious for a few meters, by Vingegaard. All three lament their poor form. For Landa, the port was too explosive. Ayuso complains of a cold. But sincerely, he says: “I can’t take it anymore, I can’t take it anymore. “I’m KO.”

Three days before his arrival in Madrid, the Vuelta has ended. The second overall, Jonas Vingegaard, discreetly underlines the the end with a modest exit through the forum in the last 200m. When everyone accelerates, the Dane lifts his foot. He stays behind so as not to dirty the plane. To be sure, also, not to make a mistake on Saturday, in the last big stage, in Guadarrama, and not win the Vuelta even if he didn’t want to with an extemporaneous acceleration. He voluntarily loses a few meters, 9s, one more than the 8s he was behind. “I deserve this jersey. Every day I have more confidence,” says Kuss, pointing to the red after receiving the only kiss that perhaps he wanted, that of his girl, Noemí, so happy. “In Angliru I fought until the end, I did everything I could, and I kept it.”

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