Everyone awaited Col de la Loze with bated breath.
One could expect nothing less for the Henry Desgranges Memorial, 2304 metres above sea level, crossed by the Tour de France for the first time. Nothing less than a combat by bicycle to establish the Tour’s top riders once and for all.
Miguel Ángel López made his decisive move two and a half kilometres from the finish. As he slipped between Primoz Roglic and Tadej Pogacar, the two riders exchanged a look to determine which of the two should chase down the light blue jersey moving quickly away from them. But by the time Roglic decided it was to be him, it was already too late. So, we might say the win was the matter of a moment, a glance, as “Michelangelo” went on alone to paint a road never before travelled by the Tour.
The emotions a rider feels when attacking to win the key stage of the world’s most important race are indescribable. Indescribable because the adrenaline generated by the thirst for victory is blended with the desperate fear that the attempt will prove vain, the prospect of crushing disappointment just meters from the finish with no chance to fight back because the gruelling climb has sucked every ounce of energy out of you. This is what Miguel Ángel López must have felt as he faced the final ascent on the 16, then 17 and then 18% slope of Col de la Loze.
The fear of failure must have been extreme, even though the finish line was within reach, even though a few meters from the banner, from behind the crush barriers a fan wrapped in the yellow, blue and red Colombian flag screamed wildly: “Ganaste, ganaste!”.
But this time there was to be no disappointment.
This time, Lopez flashed across the finish line before any other rider had a chance to fight back and, as one great sports journalist said: “This time, Michelangelo created a masterpiece”.
Now, the annals of cycling will forever record that the first rider to cross Col de la Loze was Miguel Ángel López from Pesca, a Colombian town 2540 metres above sea level: 200 metres higher than the Memorial Henry Desgranges.
So, coming from a Cordillera plateau, it is only natural for Michelangelo to look down on all the other riders.
And with him, gazing down on the entire Tour de France from atop Col de la Loze, is a Wilier 0 SLR.