Magnus Cort is the perfect cyclist. He is not achieving super-human feats, he is not a robotic winning machine, he’s close enough to us, the rank amateur, to be relatable, whilst still existing on a clearly superior athletic plane.
A winner, but not too much of a winner.
In winning a gripping Stage 19 of this 2021 Vuelta Espana, dangling just clear of the peloton to take a sprint win from the breakaway, he took victory number three from the race. That’s six career Vuelta stages to add to his single Tour de France stage win in 2018. He’s done this by swashbuckling, picking his moments, and often defying the odds (particularly with his steep-finished breakaway win on Stage 6).
That he does this resplendent in EF pink and bedecked in POC helmet and shades seals, for me, a man not immune to sartorial brilliance, the deal.
From this high point he’ll go quiet again. Sinking from our gaze into a performance trough, tank probably empty. He will no doubt re-emerge further down the line at some other race to peak in a way that is thoroughly enhanced by said trough.
When glory is fleeting and streaky, when it follows anonymity, it’s more glorious, right?Embed from Getty Images
He also, helpfully, looks like a WW2 spitfire pilot. This adds a layer of charm only undermined slightly by the lack of a British accent. I’m not sure what ‘tally-ho chaps’ is in Danish but I feel sure I heard him yell it as he drove the Stage 19 breakaway across the up ‘n’ down terrain of Galicia
He’s perhaps more accurately a minor character in a POW escape movie. The quirky Scandinavian who earns the respect of the stiff upper lip mob and contributes some left-field foreign knowledge to the tunnel dig but is shot early when caught scattering tunnel soil down a trouser leg.
After win number three he might now be shot, is what I’m saying. Hence his forthcoming disappearance.
Had social media been around in 1942 (and, stretching credulity, had the aforementioned POW camps furnished the residents with a reliable WiFi connection), he may also have documented his escapades in wry fashion with a must view series of Instagram stories.
Instead, for 2021 era Magnus, we get his gloriously unhinged hotel reviews.
EXACTLY what we want from our sportsman. If we’re going to love a cyclist we need quirk and character in lieu of standard-issue PR brand-correctness. We need a willingness to subvert the genre and fiddle with the straps of the corporate strait jacket.
All of which, ironically, is very much on brand for his EF Education Nippo team; arch disruptors and plough-ers of solo furrows that they are. Which makes him either on brand, off brand, or straddling a confusing grey area between the two.
I’ve lost track a bit.
Like I said: quirky.
So: take a mental snapshot of Magnus’s spine-tingling wins at this Vuelta, commit the splendour of his blonde ‘tache to memory, and remain vigilant for his next little burst of race-winning brand-bending activity.
“Ahh Magnus,” you’ll think, “I remember you! How’s the tunnel coming along old boy?”
(Top Image: Magnus Cort Fair Use via Eurosport https://www.eurosport.co.uk/cycling/vuelta-a-espana/2021/opinion-magnificent-magnus-caught-at-the-death-by-ruthless-roglic-in-stage-11-of-la-vuelta_sto8505324/story.shtml)