The Zipaquirá-Paris express is on time! Egan Bernal takes Tour de France

By Freek Huigen July 27, 2019
Egan Bernal can be the first Colombian Tour winner in history.
Egan Bernal will be the first Colombian Tour winner in history. Photo: A.S.O. Alex Broadway

Egan Bernal stays in yellow and will be Colombia’s first ever Tour de France winner.

In an uneventful stage to Val Thorens, the final mountain stage, Egan Bernal kept the yellow jersey without problems and barring extraordinarily bad luck, the 22-year-old will take Colombia’s first ever Tour de France victory. He’s also the youngest postwar winner of the yellow jersey and holds the white jersey for best young rider.

The stage was shortened, finishing with a 33 kilometre long climb to ski resort Val Thorens. That meant it didn’t bring the expected excitement, but was right up Bernal’s sleeve. 

When team Jumbo-Visma took the initiative for Steven Kruijswijk, number two in the general classifications, Julian Alaphilippe was quickly dropped from the group. Team Ineos riders Bernal and Geraint Thomas were comfortable at the front of the group, however. Kruijswijk and Emanuel Buchmann, the only two other contenders for the yellow jersey, kept their domestiques at the front, but the pace was never high enough to challenge the young Colombian from Zipaquirá.

Team Ineos team-mates Bernal and Thomas cross the finish line together. Photo: A.S.O. Alex Broadway

The group of favourites, without Alaphilippe, stayed together until the final kilometre. Bernal and Thomas passed the finish line cheering together, confirming a 1-2 in the GC for Team Ineos some 17 seconds behind stage winner Vincenzo Nibali. Steven Kruijswijk from the Netherlands will be on the podium with them on the third place. 

Bernal stated after the race, “This victory is not for one rider but for an entire country, it is an honour for me to win it. We already had the Vuelta and the Giro but we are missing this Tour.”

“For my family this has been like a dream, for several years we have been watching the Tour on television. We saw it as something impossible and far away. So, being here is a combination of so many emotions.”

Related: Egan Bernal claims yellow jersey after sudden finish stage 19

Tomorrow is the final stage of the Tour de France to Paris for the seven laps over the Champs Élysées. Traditionally, no time differences are expected, so though Bernal can’t claim victory quite yet, only unprecedented bad luck can keep him from winning Colombia’s first ever Tour de France title. “There is still a stage to come, but if everything goes normally I’ll be the champion. I can’t believe it yet, but what I most want now, is to cross the finish line in Paris and really celebrate.”

Last year’s yellow jersey winner Geraint Thomas is graceful in his defeat.