Team Ineos sports director Nicolas Portal has expressed his full comprehension for Tour de France organiser ASO's decision to stop stage 19 on the descent of the Iseran after a mudslide made the road between Val d'Isère and Tignes impassable.
After it became clear that it would impossible to continue the race, ASO took a rapid decision to stop riders, telling them as they racing down the descent that the final ascent to Tignes would not take place.
As riders ground to a halt, French television showed images of Christian Prudhomme explaining the situation to Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos), already in a raincoat as the heavens threatened to open again, whilst his teammate and the new race leader Egan Bernal was informed by Portal.
Portal later told French television that the team had been highly motivated from the get-go on the stage, with Thomas making an opening acceleration, 6km from the top of the Iseran before Bernal attacked a kilometre later.
"It would have been ideal if the race hadn’t stopped, it was getting very hard to crack Julian [Alaphilippe]," he said. "I think he was going to fight very hard to pull back time on the descent. But that’s how it is, we had to stop."
"We’re in yellow, we may have G in second or third, I’m not sure."
As for how his riders will be taking the situation, Portal said: "Egan would have liked to do the final climb and tomorrow will be a very big fight. it was getting very difficult to dislodge Julian. It’s still not over."
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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