Cycling is a sport marked by weight and the scale. In the platoon the grams are controlled every day. On bicycles, at lunches and dinners, in the records of cyclists, who cannot gain weight, who take care of themselves even when they are on vacation, who do not allow themselves excesses even when they celebrate. It is a sport for thin people but there are few as light as Valentin Paret-Peintre, a feather that dances in Bocca della Selva, who rises almost floating in the air, agile and light.

The Frenchman is a walking skeleton, all bones, no fat, who leaves everyone speechless by his morphology. Just 52 kilos, in a body of 1.76 meters. Very fine, he attacks Bardet, one of his idols, and then surpasses Tratnik 2.7 km from the finish line, where the Frenchman from Decathlon debuts his record at the age of 23.

Valentin Paret-Peintre and the rest take advantage of the wide sleeves left by the pink jersey. For one day, at the beginning of this second week of the race, Pogacar ignores the stage. He lets it be done. It is the third high finish and the Slovenian has already won the previous two. So the leader loosens the yoke with him having dominated the Giro d’Italia, which is almost at the equator and it seems that he has it in his pocket.

Seeing the contemplative attitude of the leader’s team, a breakaway of 25 cyclists is formed and, like all numerous breakaways in the ports, they are selected and compartmentalized. Tratnik, Slovenian like Pogacar but from Visma de Vingegaard, is the first to try it alone. He is a rocky cyclist, capable of winning this year on the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad cobble, but the long climb to Bocca della Selva is too much for him. Nothing to do with the grace of Bardet and Valentin Paret-Peintre, the two Frenchmen who chase him and catch him.

Just when they see him, Paret-Peintre departs and surprises his compatriot, whom he idolized. “I saw Bardet when I was young and he made the podium in the Tour (he was second in 2016, when Valentin was 15 years old). He saw him and dreamed of imitating him. Today I faced him and I defeated him,” confessed the small cyclist, who has nothing left over and who is immediately protected with a towel around his neck, lest he catch a cold.

Aurelién, his brother, who was also on the breakaway, who arrives fifth, also raises his hands, joy of family and team. Last year it was he who won the stage in the Giro, on the fourth day, also in another high finish. But in the group of favorites, the leader of both in the Decathlon, the fashionable team in 2024, the Australian Ben O’Connor, fourth overall, accelerates in the last meters and takes 4 seconds over Tiberi and 13 over Uijtdebroeks . Full time. All with the approval of Pogacar, who refrained from the fight.