Komenda (Slovenia) (AFP)

1245 kilometers from the Champs-Elysées, in the small town of Komenda, north of the capital Ljubljana, neighbors and fans gathered on Sunday to celebrate the surprise victory of Tadej Pogacar, the native of the country, in the Tour de France .

Around the Komenda sports hall, several hundred people gathered to watch the race on a TV screen installed in the parking lot.

Many came by bicycle, wearing yellow jerseys.

At the same time, a local marching band plays.

This rally was organized overnight.

Because as everywhere, most of the inhabitants, including the mayor Stanislav Poglajen, expected the victory to go to the other Slovenian Primoz Roglic, and second place to Pogacar.

So, in one night, the main roundabout of the city was transformed in honor of the native of this town of 6,300 inhabitants.

Here it is surrounded by yellow, white and white with polka dots, like the three jerseys that Pogacar won on the Tour.

Some, by bike, do not fail to pass there to immortalize the moment under the sun of Komenda, which has become in 24 hours the Slovenian capital of cycling.

The mayor of the city, who himself proudly wears a yellow T-shirt, tells AFP that the municipality painted it at night.

A sign that the 21-year-old runner's performance surprised everyone.

And it is not Stanislav Poglajen, although a little embarrassed, who will say the opposite: "From the bottom of my heart, I must say that I would have been very happy for Roglic if he had won and Tadej had finished second . But Pogacar surprised us, pleasantly surprised! "

- "The strongest won" -

The surprise, in fact, was not pleasant for everyone.

In the crowd the bitter smiles of Primoz Roglic fans emerge.

They canceled the party they had planned for today and came to Komenda, after their idol, big favorite on the Tour, lost their 57 seconds lead on the penultimate stage.

Roglic is a native of Trbovlje, a small town of 16,000 inhabitants just 60 km from Komenda.

"We would have preferred Primoz (Roglic) to win, but the strongest wins. We came here to greet the Pogacar fans," says Jure, in his twenties, adding that Roglic was under much greater pressure than his rival, nine years younger.

Close to them, Marko Grilc, a retiree of about 70 years old, yellow jersey on his back, sounds his old firefighter's foghorn.

"On the one hand, I'm disappointed and I would have liked Roglic to win, but on the other, Tadej is with us ... it's ecstasy!", He declares.

A little further on, a woman in her fifties works in her garden.

She noticed the journalists looking in the direction of Pogacar's house and said angrily: "I know why you are here, you came for him (note: Pogacar), but Roglic should have won!".

I "cried last night when I saw what they did to him ... and I'm afraid he's giving up his career now," she blurted out of Roglic.

- Historical day -

Slovenian President Borut Pahor, who attended the last stage on the Champs-Elysées in Paris, hoisted on Saturday the presidency building, along with the national flag, a yellow flag to once again honor the feat of Pogacar.

The yellow madness has also invaded the Slovenian press.

The Slovenian news agency headlines "Historic day for Slovenian cycling".

For the daily Dnevnik, "Pogacar and Roglic shocked the foreign media".

For its part, the daily Delo adds that the final turnaround was a surprise ... but not undeserved.

"The race ended as it should with a duel won by the best cyclist that day. He (Pogacar) is heading for a brilliant career but Roglic did not say his last word," wrote the journalist. Miha Hocevar, on the daily's website, adding that it is their competitors who should now be worried.

Before we think about later, Komenda is still celebrating Sunday.

When the end of the race arrives, the bottles of champagne open, the horns and sirens sound and the flags are waved.

People clap and toast with their plastic cups as they watch the broadcast and search for their heroes among the cyclists crossing the finish line.

At the moment when the TV broadcaster announces the rise of Tadej Pogacar on the podium, some light smoke.

And the applause erupts like a short fireworks display visible in a nearby field, followed by "bravos" and the Slovenian national anthem, sung by the crowd at the same time as being played in Paris.

© 2020 AFP