Tour de France 2019 stage 20 finish line quotes

Reactions from Bernal, Nibali, Thomas and more in Val Thorens

Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) – Tour de France winner

"It's incredible, I'm still struggling to understand things. I can't wait to cross the finish line in Paris and understand what I've achieved.

"Now we can say we're really close to securing victory. There's a stage to go and I hope it all goes OK, but I can almost say I've won my first Tour de France.

"The last climb was very hard. Jumbo-Visma made the race hard because they wanted to finish on the podium but I felt good and was well placed.

"I imagine everyone is going crazy in Colombia. This is a historic moment for our country, so I'm happy. This is a dream come true. I watched the Tour on television and dreamt about winning it. Now my dream has come true, so I'm feeling so many different emotions.

"This victory is not for one rider but for an entire country. We already had the Vuelta and the Giro and we are missing this Tour." (French television/Marca)

Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) – stage 20 winner

"I suffered but it's great to win.

"It wasn't easy for me after the fatigue of the Giro d'Italia. I tried to do the GC but exploded. There was a lot of criticism and I even thought about going home but I fought on to honour the Tour de France.

"It wasn't easy but in the last few days I felt better and so even after fatigue of yesterday I went for it. The climb never seemed to end, even if the stage was short, it was like mountain time trial. I was alone up front and the stage never seemed to end.

"It wasn't easy after last year and my crash on L'Alpe d'Huez, I hadn't won a race since, so this is huge. This is for my grandfather who passed away recently. It's also for all my team and staff who helped me to get back to my best." (Rai)

Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) – second overall

"I think this was a good day, an amazing day; to defend the jersey with Egan, and the way we fought through it, both of us. It feels like it's been one thing after another with me, but it was great that Egan took the jersey yesterday.

"I was a bit frustrated at the end [of stage 20]. I wanted to chase [Vincenzo] Nibali but at the same time [Steven] Kruijswijk was so close to me [on GC]. If we brought Nibali back and Kruijswijk won the stage and put three seconds into me, I would have lost second spot on the GC. As it turns out, I was good and he wasn't quite so good, but hindsight's a wonderful thing, isn't it?

"To get first and second, doesn't get any better. The fact that Egan is one step above me is the best person to be riding in front of me. It's been a crazy year for me, but I can be happy and proud that I've given it everything I can to be in the best shape here. I think we rode really well as a team, the whole team from day one has been amazing. We've taken a lot of flack as always but we proved that we are a real strong unit, and we know how to ride well and perform in this race. It was a pleasure to be a part of.

[What's next?] "A burger tonight, not too many beer because Paris is always hard. I'm looking forward to going home with my wife and chilling, and getting out of this bubble because it's intense … a big crazy circus. (Eurosport)

Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) – third overall

"This had to come from very deep. We did everything we could. This couldn't have been better. I was so close to the podium. I always kept on hoping and fighting. Then it's just great when it succeeds.

"The boys have done a great job. We had to work hard. In the end it was still very hard. Everyone was at the limit, which was good for me. I knew I had to keep an eye on Buchmann. I had to wait and see if I could hold him off – he was a shadow in my wheel. We took the initiative and I just had to finish it off today.

"I'll be very happy when we enter Paris tomorrow; this is what I came for." (NOS)

Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) – fifth overall

"I gave it all I had. I think it was hard to do better. I was expecting to explode at some point and I still held on. I'm very proud of the work of Enric Mas – without him I would've exploded and finished quarter of an hour behind. I can be proud of my Tour this year.

"If I had been told [at the start] everything I did in this Tour, I would never have believed it. We didn't arrive with the team best equipped to win the Tour but we had some exceptional moments. These are moments of life to enjoy." (France TV Sport)

Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) – points classification winner

"[The shortened stage] was really a surprise, and thank God that he gave us Christmas is July, yesterday and today.

[On the green jersey] "It's very special. There is still tomorrow and so barring injury, everything should be fine. I'm very happy." (Eurosport)

Dave Brailsford (Team Ineos manager)

"This is brilliant. Everyone has been questioning the team a bit. It was a brilliant race, probably the most exciting Tour de France that we've taken part in … and credit to Julian Alaphilippe. He died for that [yellow] jersey everyday and he made a lot of people second think what they thought they knew about him. Thibaut Pinot did the same in the Pyrenees; he was extremely strong, brave, and they took the race to us.

"In the end, strategy played out over chaos and teamwork played out over individuals. You've got to wait until the end of the race to make a judgement, and that's what happened.

"We looked very hard [for Egan Bernal]. We knew we had some older guys who were performing very well but we looked long and hard to find a new-generation rider, and we decided that was going to be Egan, and we signed him. Not for very much really, anyone else could have signed him, it wasn’t a money issue. We worked really hard to get him and he has developed fantastically well.

"The advice that [Thomas] gave, the words and calmness in a race, he knows what he's doing and he's generous with his advice. He's a generous person, in that sense. It was all about our team winning in the end. People questioned having two leaders and how it would work, hedging bets, but it’s worked to perfection. You can’t get any better than first and second." (Eurosport)

Nicholas Portal (Team Ineos director)

"We have four different winners [overall titles at the Tour de France]. The guys worked so hard and we always believed in ourselves and the guys. The riders are always open and honest, and we never felt in trouble. We were always feeling in the game, never out of control. We knew from six months ago that the third week would be crucial and very hard. The riders were strong.

"I said congratulations [over the team radio to Egan Bernal at the end of stage 20]. To be 22 years old and winning a Grand Tour, and the first Colombian, is just crazy. I hope he [wins as many Tours de France] as much as he can. For Geraint Thomas, he had a tough winter, and there aren’t too many Grand Tour winners in the first year, who can win in the second year, and he almost did with second place, so chapeau to him because he’s been really solid. Changing sponsors halfway through the year; we are just grateful for Ineos now, and now it’s back to business." (Eurosport)

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