Cycling animalness can be manifested in many ways. It can come out in a harsh explosion, in a series of decisions during a race, or even in something as subtle as a gesture. This year’s Tour de France saw several manifestations of riders who reached for that highest accomplishment and honor in the sport: the right to be crowned Most Animal. And they did so in many different ways. In the end, however, only one rider could take the prize home, and the honor had to go to Jarlinson Pantano.
The upbeat Colombian, who MFS spent many hours with at the 2013 Giro d’Italia and who MFS has seen many times since, let his animalness show so many times in this year’s Tour de France that we pretty much lost count. He got into many, many breaks, over many, many days. Not just the kind that French teams usually prefer (i.e. with the goal of getting TV time), but ones that were intended to win stages. Throughout the race, he he relentlessly tried to win stages, and thus was declared the most combative rider twice. He sprinted against the best in the world and out-descended the best descender in the world (in the rain no less) in the name of victory. He went for broke so many times that we’re pretty sure he’s created a figurative fitness vacuum around him that will envelop the 27 year old for months, if not years.
Pantano’s last name is the Spanish word for “swamp.” It would be tempting to name him the Swamp Thing of the Tour, or some other such thing. But we’ll abstain. Firstly, because DC Comics would probably sue us immediately, but also because it would be cheesy, and at any rate… the Swamp Thing was half-human half-plant.