Monday, May 18, 2009

La Via Horrillo

Today we should salute Di Luca and Armstrong.

And of course Horrillo.

Whatever may be said about the old and the new ways of cycling, on thing is certain and that is that cycling has always had an ethic of its own. An ethic were the slaves of the route, and the older and the wiser of the sport have not been afraid to take a stand. It seems that sometimes those of the new way forgets this ethic.

Finally, despite the attempts of Armstrong, who again went to the front to slow down the speed, the agreement for Rabobank to win was ignored by the scabs and it was a sprint. Cavendish won.

Below another gem hurriedly translated from the work of Carlos Arribas of El Pais.

La Via Horrillo

A statue of Father Pio and a small cavern with a saint, both images buried under flowers, surprise walkers in a courtyard of the hospital in Bergamo. A bad omen for relatives of patients who need to pray for them to recover, as if they don't trust doctors, you might think this if you forget that you are in Bergamo, Lombardy, and Lombardy is Italy, the country where all the miracles are possible. And Pedro Horrillo knows this all too well. Yesterday at dawn, he opened his eyes, and spontaneously came out from the induced coma, as if he had been woken by the morning song of the birds in the garden. Moving his limbs, he could speak, breathe better now despite the pneumothorax and the two holes in his lungs. Less than 18 hours earlier had been rescued from the bottom of a ravine 80 metres deep. "I did not expect to find him alive," said Sergio Levi, the doctor who found him. But he did not break his neck, nor his spine. His neurological system is running smoothly.

Yesterday, to Lorena, his wife, who had come with her father, spoke Mohammed Amer, the doctor on duty in the ICU Bergamo, he did not talk of life-threatening, but of the struggle of recovering all his functions, the work to rebuild his left leg, his knee mashed into the femur, with an open fracture of 18 centimeters. "We have to operate, to stabalise the femur" spoke, Angelo Fracassetti the doctor . "There is danger of infection, embolism, the hemorrhage is a continuous and all transfusions don't seem top stop them ...". Only after stabalising the femur, can, within two months Horrillo be operated on again, to insert a screw and repair his lungs. Horrillo may return to Spain in 10 to 15 days. The operation yesterday to insert a titanium bridge went well.

To Lorena, who had left the children, Abai, adopted in Ethiopia, almost four years old, and Hori 13 months old, at home with their Grandma, spoke the Rabobank doctor, Geert Leinders, looking into her eyes. "The most important thing is that his head is fine, he is going to be the same Pedro that we all love still. I know of many cases where people have fallen and it has changed them ... Pedro will ride a bike again, although not as a professional. " Horrillo will be again be the same, promised the good Dutch doctor, that is, he will again be unique.

In the Tour, 1951, Wim van Est, the first Dutch yellow jersey fell from a cliff on the Aubisque He was rescued 70 metres down. He was uninjured. A miracle. In the 1960 Tour, Roger Riviére broke his spine in a ravine on the Perjuret. It was a fall of 10 metres that left him in a wheelchair. He committed suicide not long after, a morphine addict. In the 1995 Tour, Fabio Casartelli never made it off the edge into the ravine descending the Aspet. He hit a pillar. He died on the spot. But Horrillo, with his 80 metres of flight, did not suffer a similar fate, like the great mountaineers of history, he opened his own path, la via Horrillo. He did so on Saturday in his fall, and he has done so throughout his career.

"Horrillo don't think so much, riders only have a head to carry a helmet," said Javier Mínguezhis first director, but he, headstrong, strove to keep using his head and he got away with it. He, a man who loves the adventure of the great outdoors, could not submit to the old unwritten law of the group, which makes the riders into sheep. He almost finished his philosophy degree and continued his career as a professional cyclist to be indispensable to all his teams, always on the side of Oscar Freire, who demanded him as a fellow team room. Like Menchov, who also wanted him always at his side, especially for his conversation, his generosity, his way of being.

But the one with whom he shared the most joy about his trade was with Juan Antonio Flecha, a fellow lover of the Northern Classics. Flecha imitated him and also began to write and he also gave him confidence that perhaps told him lately that it was time to leave. Talking about the fatigue that was caused by being a cyclist, of their children, of every night connected on skype from tacky, anonymous hotel lobbies, of the mountains, of crazy hiking in the Pyrenees, walking with a backpack, of the disenchantment they lived, of the sadness of not being able to say more in public, of the pride that he was a cyclist . "I do not understand," Horrillo confessed a couple of days ago. "Spain is precisely the place where we least love cyclists."

Protest fear

Horrillo had been dropped on the climb and, bound by his responsibility to get back Menchov, accelerated in the descent to reach the group. So it was only because of this that nobody saw him fall, but his fall invisible, his miraculous rescue, his hospitalization, so shocked the peloton, that shortly after leaving the circuit race in Milan, from where the first Giro left in 1909, they decided not to slow down and not take any more risks.

The decision of the peloton was led by the Maglia Rosa Di Luca, and by Lance Armstrong. It was decisively influenced by the 20 falls in the first of the 11 of the scheduled 15 km laps. The riders were open to traffic coming in the opposite direction, with cars parked in the middle of the streets, crossing tram tracks, dangers that were simply marked with cones.

It was the straw that broke the camel's back. Armstrong went back to the car of the commissiares, and it was he who negotiated the neutralisation of the stage in respect of the general classification. Five big names, Basso, Di Luca, Armstrong, Voigt and Rogers went to the front and slowed down the speed to to 30 kilometres per hour. "One of Rabobank was meant to win, that is what we had decided, but someone broke the pact," said Di Luca afterwards.

To explain to the public Di Luca stood at the finish line and took a microphone and said: "The circuit is not secure, so we will go slowly." The slow march didn't last too long. The owner of Lampre called Cunego, he threw a tantrum and forced him to accelerate. All of the team went to the front. Behind them more scabs. The picked up the speed.

Finally, despite the attempts of Armstrong, who again went to the front to slow down the speed, the agreement for Rabobank to win was ignored by the scabs and it was a sprint. Cavendish won. Almost four minutes later, came the group of favorites, no risk. Armstrong was the last. "They have got an own goal," said the organizer, Angelo Zomegnan. "It was more the fear and the memory of Horrillo than a protest," said Basso. "On Sunday, at the end of the Giro I will get home safe and sound, not like Horrillo," said Di Luca.

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