Pio Garcia: Javier Garcia launches the sprint

There is a lot to be learned from cycling. And not only from the mountain stages, when strategies collide with some impossible slopes and sharp-featured climbers ride through snowfields. Sometimes the flat stages, which are almost the only ones to survive, are more educational. In the Tour, the cyclists are racing through a gently undulating landscape. For seventy kilometres nothing happens – or seems to happen – Perico tells his stories and you can take advantage of the opportunity to take a nap without a guilty conscience until suddenly, in the last two kilometres, a dizzying whirlwind forms and long-legged riders take the lead in the peloton. They are preparing for the sprint.

Sprinters use beastly gears but cultivate an almost scientific craft. Much of their success relies on timing: you have to launch yourself at the right moment. Video libraries are full of images of sprinters who have suffocated just a few metres from the finish line because they have gritted their teeth too soon and have seen how another rider – cleverer, more efficient, more patient – ​​has overtaken them from the side and ended up beating them in a tubular halfway line. The opposite also happens and that is where guys like Cavendish emerge, who measure the space well, know their own strengths and know the exact moment to launch themselves.

Javier García, mayor of Arnedo and spokesman for the PSOE in the Parliament of La Rioja, has just launched the sprint. On Monday he put on a big plate and separated himself from the pack. What he announced did not surprise anyone – everyone assumed that he would stand to succeed Concha Andreu – but it is a risky manoeuvre. He does not know where the finish line is or who his opponents will be, if there are any.

1. The goal

Javier García senses that the finish line is already near, perhaps around the next bend. There are signs that announce it, although vague, not entirely conclusive. The general secretary, Concha Andreu, accepted the request of the municipal group of Logroño and expressed her willingness to ask Ferraz for permission for the ordinary congress of La Rioja to precede the federal one and to be held before the end of the year. If this is the case, the regional conclave would be resolved in November or December. García estimates that the finish line banner will be there.

But no one guarantees it. What if Ferraz does not consent, perhaps for fear that other federations will get out of hand? What if Andreu does not request it or does so without insisting too much, just to cover the file? What if Sánchez calls general elections beforehand? If things were to follow the ordinary calendar, the congress could be delayed until the end of 2025, and García – and the entire party – could find the road too long. He who strikes first does not always strike twice; just ask Alberto Bretón.

2. The rivals

The sources consulted by this newspaper believe that Javier García will not enter the finish line alone, comfortably raising his arms. There will probably be other sprinters in the running, still hidden in the peloton, whose strengths are unknown. From the sector closest to Concha Andreu, the possible candidacy of Elisa Garrido, former mayor of Calahorra and member of Congress, is slipping in; although at the moment everything moves in the realm of maybe, we’ll see, maybe, there’s a long way to go.

From the other side of the PSOE, news is also expected. In an interview given to this newspaper, the former general secretary, Francisco Ocón, left a sentence that is easy to interpret: “I am not planning anything right now,” he warned, “but what I am very clear about is that at the next congress there will be present all that space of people whom the current leadership of the PSOE decided since 2021 to leave out of the entire institutional and organic sphere.” A name has yet to be put in that box.

In short, there is still a long way to go.

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