Tour de France: Egan Bernal in yellow jersey after sudden stage 19 finish

By Freek Huigen July 26, 2019
Egan Bernal is the new Tour de France leader with one mountain stage to come
Egan Bernal is the new Tour de France leader with one mountain stage to come. Photo: A.S.O Pauline Ballet

Egan Bernal took the yellow jersey after bad weather conditions on the final climb to Tignes brought the race to a sudden halt.

A bad hail storm around Tignes made the final climb of the stage impossible with ice, mud slides and what TV commentators described as a “river” on the road. Organisers saw no other option but to take the unusual decision to stop the race.

The announcement that riders’ times from the Col de l’Iseran – the summit they’d rounded just before the race was called – would be used, put an end to speculation about the impact of the stop. And meant that Egan Bernal had taken the yellow jersey, although no stage victory was given.

The 22-year-old Colombian is in pole position to become the first ever Colombian to win the Tour de France. Nairo Quintana came second twice, but Colombia has never before worn the yellow jersey in Paris.

The Zipaquira-born rider rounded the summit first after a decisive attack four kilometres below. His team-mate at Team Ineos, Geraint Thomas opened the game on the climb to get away from the group of favourites. Steven Kruijswijk from team Jumbo-Visma countered, but neither of them could put distance into the rest of the favourites.

Bernal saw his chance with a jump that was so strong, nobody could follow his wheel. Race leader Alaphilipe cracked even more, unable to follow the other GC contenders. Bernal saw his chance and he slowly extended his lead. At the top of the Iseran he held a 1:00 minute lead over other favourites, Thomas, Kruijswijk and Emanuel Buchmann from Team Bora and 2:03 minutes over Alaphilippe. In the descent Bernal took all the risks to extend his lead, but was brought to an abrupt halt when the organisation car pulled up next to him and told everyone the rest of the race couldn’t continue.

The differences on the Iseran were taken as the final result of the stage. Thibaut Pinot, third in the GC before today, had already experienced a personal drama early on, abandoning the race in tears due to a knee injury.

After the organisation confirmed the time differences, Bernal is holding a 48 second lead over Alaphilippe and over 1:16 minutes over number 3 Thomas. Kruijswijk and Buchmann are also still in the race, within two minutes from the leader. Rigo climbed to seventh place and Nairo is now eighth, having three escarabajos in the top ten.

Tomorrow, the hors-category climb to ski resort Val Thorens will mark the finish of the final stage through the French Alps and the final opportunity for the GC contenders to make a difference. The Tour will finish on Sunday with the traditional flat stage to the Champs-Élysées in Paris.