The top 10 of the 2019 Tour de France general classification was a true mixed bag. Joining the youngest winner for more than 100 years, Egan Bernal, on the podium were two riders in their 30s, in Geraint Thomas and Steven Kruijswijk. Further down, there were the revelatory Julian Alaphilippe and Emanuel Buchmann along with all three of the famous Movistar triumvirate of Mikel Landa, Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde, who are set to break up next year.
Cyclingnews takes a look at where the 2019 Tour de France leaves its top-10 finishers, and what now lies ahead.
Team: Team Ineos
Tour report: Although Bernal failed to win a stage, he imposed himself on the race when it really mattered, and had stage 19 played out to its full fruition, we could have witnessed a career-defining performance. He handled the issue over joint leadership with both care and respect and never once looked flustered.
Best non-Tour result of 2019: Winning Paris-Nice and Tour de Suisse.
Tour 2020? Even if Chris Froome comes back to his full potential and Geraint Thomas has a consistently strong start to 2020, it would be hard to see Team Ineos line up with three co-leaders next season at the Tour. The most likely scenario is that one of their three amigos – and it's unlikely to be Bernal – is persuaded to try their hand at the Giro d'Italia. This very much depends on Froome's fitness, what Ineos owner Jim Ratcliffe wants, and if the next rider on this list can see the Giro as an opportunity rather than a demotion.
Team: Team Ineos
Tour report: As Thomas stated in his post-Tour press conference, few - himself included - would have predicted that he would take first and second in the last two editions of the race. This year he came in half-baked after a sluggish start to the season and a heavy fall in Suisse that moved the momentum further into Bernal's camp, but the Welshman dug in and by the time the race reached Pau he was sitting second overall. He was found out on the Tourmalet, however, and despite improvements as the race wore on he consistently lost time to Bernal in the high mountains. Had Bernal been on a rival team or had the Colombian not been halted in his tracks on the road to Tignes, the margin between first and second could have stretched to several minutes. Those that suggest that Thomas was in the ideal position if Bernal tired between the final two climbs on stage 19 are neglecting the fact that the defending champion's attacks in the mountains were all nullified. If Gregor Mühlberger can chase you down, you're not going to win the Tour.
Best non-Tour result of 2019: Third overall at the Tour de Romandie.
Tour 2020? Thomas will want to return to the Tour because, at 33, his chances are limited. He can certainly win another Tour but will pride win out over rationality? If he put his hand up and demands Giro d'Italia leadership, few within the team would stop him. He could probably take his pick from several strong domestiques and target a Grand Tour without the distraction of leadership questions. Much will depend on the next few months. There's still a chance Thomas rides the Vuelta, in which case three Grand Tours in a row might alter his thinking. That said, if he uses half the Vuelta to prepare for the Worlds TT, then it changes the complexion once more. Then there's Froome. If he wants a fifth Tour title and Bernal wants to defend his crown then Thomas might just see the Giro as a chance to dodge a bullet. Why put yourself in the position of a super domestique when you can try and win a Giro?
Tour report: Arguably one of the most underrated stage racers in the modern peloton, Kruijswijk and his Jumbo-Visma squad took the race to Team Ineos throughout the Tour. They and Groupama-FDJ provided one of the most enthralling moments when they went head-to-head with the defending champions on the Tourmalet and the image of Kruijswijk ordering George Bennett to go full gas was worthy of a podium spot in itself. Kruijswijk lacks the acceleration of some of the pure climbers but those that label the Dutchman a 'wheel sucker' simply highlight their lack of understanding of Grand Tour racing.
Best non-Tour result of 2019: Consistent throughout the year but maybe his TT in the Critérium du Dauphiné.
Tour 2020? Much will depend on whether the team signs Tom Dumoulin, and while it's hard to see Kruijswijk improving on a third place in the Tour de France, he could be relied upon as a super domestique next year. The idea of Dumoulin, De Plus, Roglic, Kruijswijk and Bennett all in the same Tour team, and united behind one leader, is a mouthwatering prospect.
Tour report: Few would have predicted such a fine result from the young German but, Bernal aside, he was the revelation of the race in terms of the GC. The quiet all-rounder was solid against the clock, never looked out of place in the mountains, and was well deserving of his fourth place in Paris.
Best non-Tour result of 2019: Third overall in the Dauphiné.
Tour 2020? The most pressing question is whether the squad signs more riders to compliment the German in the mountains and whether they reduce Peter Sagan's clique yet further. Rafal Majka could be persuaded to ride a Giro and then support Buchmann, but in Shachmann, Mühlberger and Konrad, the team already have a young and strong supporting cast. If the team manage the situation properly, Buchmann could be on the podium next July.
Tour report: There are very few superlatives left to describe the Frenchman's race. He was simply startling from the start and re-defined his career as a possible GC contender for the future. He was eventually found out in the Alps and would have lost more time if stage 19 had run its course but 5th and two stage wins was still a phenomenal result.
Best non-Tour result of 2019: Milan-San Remo victory.
Tour 2020? There's little doubt that Alaphilippe will return in 2020 but it's unlikely he will be allowed the freedom to express himself as he was this year. Rivals will not allow him to go up the road in the same manner and QuickStep have a challenge if they want to try and put together anything like a stage racing unit with so little time to spare. He'll be back in 2020 but the priority should be stage wins and a possible tilt at the KOM jersey.
Tour report: Lost time against the clock and in the crosswinds when Barguil took him off the road but then came through in the mountains. This was a typically consistent Landa performance that could once again be dissected into three acts. Act one: lose enough time in the first part of the race to ensure that your overall chances are suitably diminished. Act two: resurrect those hopes with a string of attacks and quality rides. Act three: lose that edge because you’re now knackered and eventually finish off the podium. Throughout all three acts: wink at the cameras, say 'free Landa' and smirk whenever someone asks you about your relationship with Nairo Quintana.
Best non-Tour result of 2019: Fourth in the Giro d'Italia.
Tour 2020? He looks set to move to Bahrain-Merida next season with strong speculation that the deal was done as far back as 2018. Without Quintana or any other GC rival, Landa will have the complete support of the team, which means we'll finally see what Landa can do when he's the number one option.
Team: EF Education First
Tour report: More than held his own when racing against the clock and went on the offensive on the road to Tignes only to see the weather ruin his chances. Losing time in Albi severely altered his race and dented top-five hopes but he wasn't great in Foix either. He climbed up the standings after Thibaut Pinot quit and Quintana slipped back, and a stop-start programme ahead of the Tour almost certainly cost him.
Best non-Tour result of 2019: Third overall at La Route d'Occitanie
Tour 2020? With no major signings on the horizon for 2020 it's unlikely that the American team will divert from the script they've delivered since Uran's arrival in 2017. If he finishes he'll provide a top-10 overall in Paris and most teams outside of the elite are crying out for that level of consistency. The Colombian might be tempted by one more crack at the Giro d'Italia after two second places but it very much depends on if he does the Vuelta later this year and how the EF squad juggle some of their younger riders next year. Route announcements probably don't factor too much into discussions given how dependable Urán is over a variety of terrain.
Tour report: Won a hugely impressive stage in Valloire despite his own team chasing him down and made the crosswinds split into Albi. Other than that, this was another drab affair from the Colombian. Some will scoff at that notion, pointing furiously to the results sheet that displays his name inside the top 10, but we're talking about the only rider who took it to Team Sky in those early years and who looked destined to become his nation's first Tour winner. His palmares is still hugely respectable and, other than Froome and Nibali in today's peloton, only Quintana can point to two Grand Tour titles, but he hasn't won a stage race in nearly three years.
Best non-Tour result of 2019: Second overall in Paris-Nice.
Tour 2020? His move to Arkea-Samsic makes a lot of sense. He won't have to tussle for leadership with several other riders, and he will bring a core group of climbers with him as he looks to rebuild his Tour reputation. Whether everything clicks in 2020 is another matter but a change of scene for Quintana was a must.
Tour report: Had it not been for the rainbow jersey on his shoulders, Valverde would have been virtually anonymous for most of the race. While Landa and Quintana played a game of who could be the least reliable team leader, the veteran Spaniard rode in the shadows. There was the odd token cameo and he came close to a stage win at Val Thorens, but that was about it. Still, it's another Grand Tour top 10 for a rider who made his Grand Tour debut in 2002. To comprehend how long ago that was, phones only just started using in-built cameras, the New England Patriots beat the St Louis Rams to win their first of six Super Bowls, Bernal was five, and Justin and Britney had recently broken up. It's a really, really long time ago.
Best non-Tour result of 2019: Won the Spanish road race title.
Tour 2020? He'll be 40, but why not? With Quintana, Landa and Carapaz set to move on, Movistar will be looking for Valverde's experience to rub off on Enric Mas and whoever else joins the squad.
Tour report: A consistent presence from the Frenchman in the mountains saw him nudge ahead of Richie Porte and squeak into the top 10 overall on the penultimate day. This was a far more assured performance than the one we saw in 2018, although nothing like the sparkling form from 2017 that earned him a move to his local team. There were a couple of attacks but when you shed close to five minutes in the time trials you're always going to be fighting with one hand tied behind your back. Had it not been for those time losses he could have been France's top finisher.
Best non-Tour result of 2019: Winning the French national title and then donning perhaps the most stylish national champion's jersey in the Tour.
Tour 2020? Even with the team looking to step up to WorldTour and the arrival of Quintana from Movistar, there's little chance of Barguil skipping the Tour or being sidelined. Quintana will not see Barguil as an internal threat and will look to bring the Frenchman onside. The Colombian will need any help he can get, even if Barguil fostered a reputation of individualism at his previous team.