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Domestique, attacker, champion, finisher, outsider. A personality like that of Marc Soler belongs to those who cannot be defined: a rider who is almost indomitable when the day allows him to leave the reins behind and ride in the prairies of his Pindaric flights, which - at times - prove to be more real than ever. However slim the chances of success are, Soler is a man who relies more on instinct than mathematics, in a mixture of raw emotion that literally drives cycling fans crazy.
“I really enjoy racing on the attack," explains Soler. "It's a special feeling, often you don't win but you feel good, you know you gave 120% and you have the satisfaction of reaping the results of hard training. That’s real motivation. Defining a rider and his role is never easy. My job is generally to help the leaders, but when I have the freedom and opportunity to find my own space, to give it a try. I do everything I can to try and reap the results. No matter how many chances there are, the main thing is to try".
Now that the Spanish athlete is racing the Vuelta a España - incidentally the race in which he made his professional debut in 2017 - he has already found fertile ground to try and launch his wild sprints with an uncertain ending and guaranteed thrills. The hope is to repeat last year's extraordinary victory when everything seemed to happen, he attacked, broke away and then hung up again, in the name of that law of "nothing is over until it's over."
"The Vuelta is my home race," he says. "I like it because it often takes place on roads I know well and where I train. Last year was really special, I was alone for fifteen kilometres before the finish and looking back at my rivals trying to come back, I thought about all the work I had done up to that point. The team had given me confidence from the start and I was really grateful for that support, they never made me feel alone. When you're suffering, your mind always goes back to the time you spent training and working away from your family, and it's nice to be rewarded in this way for all the sacrifices.”
The three weeks of the Vuelta are long and definitely made for suffering, but also for taking risks, which is Soler's style. Strong at the start in Barcelona, close to home, with all his loved ones around him, he believes in his small but infinite chances of success.
"This edition is very tough, there are so many uphill finishes," he concludes. "But to be honest, I've circled the one on the 6th of September: it's my wife's birthday and I hope to give her a very special present.
So, as is so often the case, cycling combines its romantic side with the cruel side of the most fascinating and merciless Spain to give us more stages like this, impossible to predict but so easy to live intensely.