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Tour de France 2019: Stage 19

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This has all turned out rather more entertaining that anybody could have anticipated. For a decade or so, the Tour de France had become an event whose prestige greatly outstripped its suspense. Even in 2017, when Chris Froome held a slender lead through the final week in the Alps, it always felt as though the Briton was holding his rivals comfortably at arm’s length, and so it proved. Julian Alaphilippe has a bigger buffer (1:30) than Froome did on the corresponding stage two years ago (23 seconds) and yet his lead feels altogether more tenuous for the obvious reason that this is wholly uncharted territory for the Frenchman, who has never before contended over three weeks. Some five riders are poised should the last two days in the Alps prove too much for Alaphilippe, and just 44 seconds separate second-placed Egan Bernal from Emanuel Buchmann in 6th. Just about anything can still happen, starting with today’s short but demanding stage from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Tignes by way of the mighty Col de l’Iseran.

The general classification picture is as follows ahead of today's stage:

 

1 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 75:18:49
2 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Ineos 0:01:30
3 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Ineos 0:01:35
4 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:01:47
5 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:01:50
6 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:02:14
7 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:03:54
8 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team 0:04:54
9 Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First 0:05:33
10 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:05:58
11 Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo 0:06:30
12 Warren Barguil (Fra) Arkéa Samsic 0:07:47
13 Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty-Gobert 0:15:11
14 Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:16:21
15 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Dimension Data 0:17:00
16 David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:18:37
17 Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty-Gobert 0:22:43
18 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:23:39
19 Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates 0:34:23
20 Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) Groupama-FDJ 0:35:52

 

There are five climbs on today’s route, though in truth, the first 89km might well feel like one long ascent all the way to the highest point of the Tour, the 2770m-high Col de l’Iseran. The first classified ascent is the category 3 Côte de Saint-André (3.1km at 6.8%) after 25km. A short plateau leads on to the category 2 Montée d’Aussois (6.5km at 6.2%). After climbing a portion of the Col de la Madeleine (category 3, 3.9km at 5.6%), the road leads on to the Col d’Iseran (12.9km at 7.5%). The Souvenir Henri Desgrange will be awarded to the first man across the top. A long, long descent follows before the final category 1 ascent to the finish at Tignes (7.4km at 7%).

 

Julian Alaphilippe’s face betrayed signs of suffering for much of the day yesterday, but his pedalling remained agile right up until he hit the upper reaches of the Col du Galibier. Even then, he limited his losses to 20 seconds at the top and then produced a daring descent to recoup those loses. He might have to repeat that feat on the Iseran this afternoon. His rivals must surely know by now that they cannot rely on the hard road to unseat Alaphilippe – they must take matters in hand themselves. Alaphilippe escaped a time penalty last night, incidentally, after a team helper pushed him near the top of the Galibier.

 

Competing ambitions are nothing new at Team Ineos - witness Froome and Wiggins in 2012, and Froome and Thomas a year ago - but it seems they haven't yet settled on their hierarchy at this Tour. Egan Bernal looked the best of the GC contenders yesterday, but the buffer he built up over the chasers on the Galibier was reduced somewhat when Thomas put in an acceleration nearer the summit. "I don't care what happened with G. He's my teammate, and we need to gain time on Alaphilippe," Bernal said afterwards

 

 

 

The peloton is assembling on the start line in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, where the neutralised start is at 13:45 local time. They are scheduled to hit kilometre zero at 13:55.

 

The peloton rolls out of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne in warm but slightly overcast conditions.

 

Thibaut Pinot was the most impressive rider in the Pyrenees, winning atop the Tourmalet and attacking with élan at Prat d’Albis, but the Groupama-FDJ man betrayed signs of fatigue on the Galibier yesterday. Nonetheless, he still put in a useful acceleration near the summit, and while he now lies 5th overall at 1:50, he remains resolutely in the hunt to become the first French Tour winner since 1985. “Now it's time for two summit finishes, where more things should happen and where I hope, above all, to have better sensations," Pinot said. Alasdair Fotheringham and Patrick Fletcher have more here.

 

Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) slipped off the provisional podium yesterday but the Dutchman will hope his diesel qualities can keep him in the hunt when others falter in these dying days of the race. He is now 4th, 1:47 down on Alaphilippe, but confident the Frenchman can still be unseated. "I know what's yet to come tomorrow and on Saturday," said Kruijswijk. "Next time, there'll be no downhills for him to come back." Alasdair Fotheringham has more here.

 

126km remaining from 126km

The flag drops and stage 19 of the Tour de France is officially underway. There's immediately an injection of pace. There will be no shortage of riders trying to get in the day's early break.

 

125km remaining from 126km

Michael Woods (EF Education First) stretches things out on these gradually rising opening kilometres. Rui Costa and Romain Bardet are also prominent near the front of the peloton. 

 

124km remaining from 126km

Rui Costa stretches things out a little further but the elastic has yet to snap at the head of the peloton. Alex Dowsett and Jens Debusschere (Katusha-Alpecin) are already out the back of the bunch in these opening kilometres. On a short, mountainous stage like this, the time limit will be very severe.

 

122km remaining from 126km

Pello Bilbao (Astana) and Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) put in digs at the head of the peloton but the day's early break has yet to take shape.

 

121km remaining from 126km

Dan Martin accelerates with Vincenzo Nibali, Pello Bilbao and Jesus Herrada for company. This quartet has a small lead over the peloton.

 

118km remaining from 126km

Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates), Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Pello Bilbao (Astana) have 12 seconds in hand on the peloton but there are still plenty of riders endeavouring to bridge across.

 

116km remaining from 126km

Nibali, Martin, Herrada and Bilbao have extended their buffer to 20 seconds over the peloton. This is a group with serious pedigree and none of them are a threat on general classification - an ideal combination in such circumstances. Dan Martin is the best-placed rider on GC, 19th at 34:23.

 

114km remaining from 126km

Martin, Nibali, Herrada and Bilbao are exchanging turns fluidly and their buffer over the bunch is up to 27 seconds. Joey Rosskopf (CCC) is trying to bridge across alone.

 

111km remaining from 126km

40 seconds now for the leading quartet, but there are still riders trying desperately to fling themselves across the gap and join the break. Joey Rosskopf, Nils Politt and Romain Sicard are currently in no man's land between the break and the bunch.

 

Chad Haga and Ben King have joined Rosskopt, Sicard and Politt in their pursuit of the four leaders. This has been an intense start to proceedings and riders will surely pay for these efforts come the fearsome Iseran.

 

108km remaining from 126km

The small chasing group has been subsumed by the peloton, which is 34 seconds down on Nibali, Martin, Herrada and Bilbao.

 

Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos) was briefly among the riders trying to forge up to the break and now Dylan van Baarle is part of a group of five riders that is giving chase to the leaders.

 

105km remaining from 126km

The Van Baarle group has been brought back, and the peloton is strung out into lone long line, 31 seconds behind the four escapees. 

 

104km remaining from 126km

Martin, Herrada, Nibali and Bilbao hit the base of the day's first classified climb, the category 3 Côte de Saint-André (3.1km at 6.8%). Their buffer is down to 26 seconds.

 

Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates) has been very active in the opening part of this stage and the Sardinian is now bounding up the climb and trying to bridge across alone to his teammate Martin in the break.

 

Michael Woods and king of the mountains Romain Bardet lead the peloton up to Aru's rear wheel. The break's lead is down to 20 seconds.

 

Now French champion Warren Barguil accelerates from the bunch in a bid to make it up to the leaders. Tony Gallopin is on his wheel, with Fabio Aru trying to get up to them.

 

102km remaining from 126km

There are plenty of riders being jettisoned out the back of the peloton in these brisk, uphill opening kilometres. Andre Greipel and Stephane Rossetto are among those losing contact. 

 

Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ) has been dropped from the shrinking peloton. It seems Thibaut Pinot will be without a key support rider later in the stage.

 

101km remaining from 126km

Dan Martin leads the break over the climb. They have 20 seconds in hand over the peloton, which has pegged back Barguil and Gallopin.

 

A short descent brings the race towards Modane. After a brief plateau, the road will start climbing once again towards the category 2 Montée d’Aussois (6.5km at 6.2%).

 

In the main peloton, Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida) and Sergio Henao (UAE Team Emirates) slide out on the descent but both men quickly remount and continue in the race. 

 

Romain Bardet is among the riders struggling at the rear of the peloton. The Frenchman placed second yesterday to move into the polka dot jersey but he appears to be paying for those efforts today. 

 

95km remaining from 126km

No one team is able to bring order to this most unruly peloton, which is fragmenting into several groups. A sizeable group containing Rigoberto Uran is 25 seconds down on the break, while a very reduced yellow jersey group - containing all the GC contenders - is 47 seconds down.

 

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) is back at the medical car and he looks to be receiving treatment to an injury on his left thigh. The doctor has removed a bandage from his thigh and is applying heft plaster just above his knee. A spray is also being applied to his thigh. Is his challenge unravelling on the Montee d'Aussois?

 

The Groupama-FDJ team car pulls up alongside a visibly struggling Pinot, who is now 30 seconds down on the yellow jersey group. His teammates Molard and Anthony Roux ride past and pat him on the shoulder as they do so. It seems clear that Pinot's teammates were already aware that he had an issue, though news of a leg injury had obviously entered the public domain. 

 

Pinot stops on the road side and directeur sportif Philippe Mauduit removes the bandage from his leg. Pinot starts riding again but he is now 2:36 down on the break and almost two minutes behind the yellow jersey group. He is now being caught by Alexander Kristoff. Pinot's Tour podium challenge is over.

 

91km remaining from 126km

Meanwhile, the large Uran group has caught Nibali, Martin, Herrada and Bilbao.

 

There are now 25 riders at the head of the race, with a lead of 47 seconds over the yellow jersey group, but for the time being the focus is on the solitary Thibaut Pinot. Quite why no Groupama-FDJ teammates are with him is beyond me. Perhaps they understand his challenge - and perhaps his race - is already over, and are simply battling to stay within the time limit.

 

Rigoberto Uran and Alejandro Valverde are the GC dangermen in this 25-strong group at the head of the race, 44 seconds clear of the Alaphilippe peloton. Uran started the day 9th overall at 5:33, while Valverde was 10th at 5:59.

 

Pinot's distress is evident as he climbs the Montee d'Aussois alone, 3:51 down on the escapees and 3 minutes behind the yellow jersey group. 

 

The men at the head of the race are: Dylan van Baarle (Ineos), Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hasngrohe), Tony Gallopin (AG2R-La Mondiale), Vincenzo Nibali and Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Merida), Sébastien Reichenbach (Groupama-FDJ), Alejandro Valverde and Andrey Amador (Movistar), Pello Bilbao, Gorka Izagirre and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Laurens De Plus (Jumbo-Visma), Rigoberto Uran, Alberto Bettiol and Michael Woods (EF Education First), Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Dan Martin and Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates), Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), Michael Matthews (Sunweb), Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Warren Barguil and Elie Gesbert (Arkéa-Samsic).

 

88km remaining from 126km

Damiano Caruos leads the break over the Montée d’Aussois but the news is at the back of the race, where Pinot is on the brink of climbing off.

 

Pinot is in tears as teammate Mathieu Ladagnous rides alongside him. The moment has come. Pinot rolls to a halt on the roadside. Ladagnous holds his bike while Pinot climbs into the team car and abandons the Tour de France. 

 

Pinot's ill-starred relationship with the Tour de France continues. However this race ends, Pinot's story has been one of the most compelling these past three weeks. AJ Liebling's description of Archie Moore’s unsuccessful attempt to take Rocky Marciano’s world heavyweight title in 1955 seems apt: “What would ‘Moby Dick’ be if Ahab had succeeded? Just another fish story.”

 

81km remaining from 126km

The Tour goes on. Uran and Valverde have a minute in hand on the yellow jersey group, where Jonathan Castroviejo and Wout Poels are setting the tempo for Ineos. Bernal and Thomas have no other teammates left, though they do have Dylan van Baarle up the road for the second day in succession. 

 

Steven Kruijswijk has teammate Laurens De Plus up the road in this move, while Emanuel Buchmann is represented by Patrick Konrad. They could be very useful allies come the Iseran.

 

L'Equipe is reporting that Pinot was suffering from a torn quadricep. It is not yet known precisely when that injury was sustained, but it is clear that his Groupama-FDJ teammates were aware that he was carrying the injury into today's stage.

 

76km remaining from 126km

Meanwhile, the 26-strong leading group is on the rather rugged plateau that leads towards the Col de la Madeleine, with a lead of 1:04 over the yellow jersey group, which contains all of the podium contenders and is being led by the seemingly indefatigable Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-QuickStep).

 

Michael Matthews has been distanced by the front group and the Australian has sat up and waited for the peloton.

 

You can read more on the developing story of Thibaut Pinot's abrupt abandon from the Tour here

 

 

There are in fact 28 riders in this front group, which is 55 seconds up on the peloton: Dylan van Baarle (Ineos), Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hasngrohe), Tony Gallopin (AG2R-La Mondiale), Vincenzo Nibali and Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Merida), Sébastien Reichenbach (Groupama-FDJ), Alejandro Valverde, Marc Soler and Andrey Amador (Movistar), Pello Bilbao, Gorka Izagirre, Magnus Cort and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Laurens De Plus (Jumbo-Visma), Rigoberto Uran, Alberto Bettiol and Michael Woods (EF Education First), Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Dan Martin and Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates), Giulio Ciccone and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal), Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Roman Kreuziger (Dimension Data), Warren Barguil and Elie Gesbert (Arkéa-Samsic)

 

71km remaining from 126km

It's interesting that Movistar have three riders in this front group. Given Nairo Quintana's remarkable display on the Galibier yesterday, not to mention Mikel Landa's form, are the Spanish squad planning a grand offensive on the Iseran? They have precious little to lose, given that they started the day in 7th (Quintana), 8th (Landa) and 10th (Valverde) overall.

 

70km remaining from 126km

The race has settled into some discernible pattern after that intense start (36.5km covered in the first hour). 1:11 separates the large yellow jersey group - which still includes Peter Sagan, incidentally - from the break.

The break starts to splinter as it hits the truncated Col de la Madeleine (3.9km at 5.6%). Bauke Mollema has dropped back to the bunch, while De Gendt and Kreuziger are also among those losing contact with the move.

 

Groupama-FDJ have issued a short statement on social media about Pinot's injury: "Thibaut suffers from a muscular lesion on his left thigh. Yesterday, he finished stage 18 with a sharp pain and had troubles walking in the evening. His condition didn't improve today, he just withdrew from the #TDF2019."

 

66km remaining from 126km

The escapees are onto the Col de la Madeleine, with a lead of 1:23 on the Alaphilippe group. Michael Woods sets the tempo on behalf of Uran at the front.

 

 

Interesting that Buchmann has a strong delegation of Bora-Hansgrohe riders around him in the yellow jersey group. The German has been the quiet man of the overall contenders, but he automatically moves up a place after Pinot's abandon and must be starting to believe more fully in his podium chances. 

 

Marc Soler, incidentally, had dropped out of the break and waited for the peloton, where he now accompanies Landa and Quintana. Movistar still have Valverde and Amador in the front group, which is now 1:42 up.

 

64km remaining from 126km

Jonathan Castroviejo sets the tempo in the peloton on the Col de la Madeleine, with that Bora-Hansgrohe delegation just behind him. At the head of the race, Nibali and his fellow Sicilian Caruso hold the reins in the break.

 

63km remaining from 126km

Damiano Caruso leads Nibali over the top of the Madeleine. With Bardet and Tim Wellens both absent from this move, Caruso has a chance to move into the polka dot jersey this afternoon if he can stay clear over the Iseran. 

 

58km remaining from 126km

There are 21 riders left in the break after the Madeleine. Their lead over the bunch is 1:56 as they approach the intermediate sprint in Bessans. The men in the group are: Dylan van Baarle (Ineos), Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hasngrohe), Tony Gallopin (AG2R-La Mondiale), Vincenzo Nibali, Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Merida), Sébastien Reichenbach (Groupama-FDJ), Alejandro Valverde, Andrey Amador (Movistar), Pello Bilbao, Gorka Izagirre, Magnus Cort, Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Laurens De Plus (Jumbo-Visma), Rigoberto Uran, Michael Woods (EF Education First), Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates), Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic).

 

Groupama-FDJ directeur sportif Philippe Mauduit has told France Televisions that Pinot's injury was sustained two days ago. He managed to suffer through yesterday's stage but the pain proved too much in the opening kilometres here. “While he was avoiding a crash, his left knee hit the handlebars and the pain just got worse,” Mauduit said. “We’ve been hoping for an improvement, but we knew this morning that it would be complicated if the race was hard. He’s been in pain since the start. It wasn’t possible to keep riding.”

 

55km remaining from 126km

The escapees are 5km from the base of the Col de l'Iseran, the pivotal moment of this stage and perhaps of this entire Tour. The hors categorie ascent is 12.9km at 7/5%, and rises to an altitude of 2770m.

 

Thibaut Pinot nearing the end of his Tour de France earlier in the stage.

 

 

An updated version of the story of Pinot's abandon is here.

 

Dylan van Baarle has sat up from the break and waited to join Thomas and Bernal in the yellow jersey group ahead of the Iseran.

 

49km remaining from 126km

The break is fragmenting on the lower slopes of the Iseran, with Dan Martin among those dropped as the climb begins in earnest.

 

Back in the peloton, Ineos are setting the tempo. Castroviejo takes a long turn on the front on the lower ramps and then swings over. Now Dyalan van Baarle is setting the pace for Ineos. Is the grand offensive from Bernal imminent?

 

Barguil, Nibali, Caruso, Ciccone, Barguil and Valverde are prominent at the front of the break. Patrick Konrad and Dan Martin are among those who have been distanced. The gap is down to 1:30 on the Ineos-led peloton.

 

48km remaining from 126km

Van Baarle rides on the front of the peloton for Ineos, with Wout Poels on his wheel. Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal sit just behind them.

 

14 riders remain in front on the Iseran with a lead of 1:20 on the Ineos-led yellow jersey group: Uran, Valverde, Barguil, Guillaume Martin, Reichenbach, Lutsenko, De Plus, Woods, Ciccone, Nibali, Caruso, Simon Yates, Amador, and Cort.

 

The yellow jersey group is down to 20 or so riders with no obvious absentees - bar, of course, Pinot, who abandoned earlier in the stage. Alaphilippe still has Enric Mas for company in this group. Asgreen was there until very recently, but has now been distanced. 

 

46km remaining from 126km

Van Baarle is still setting the pace in the yellow jersey group, which has closed to just over a minute behind the break with five miles or so of the Iseran still to climb.

 

45km remaining from 126km

Van Baarle swings off, his day's work done. Wout Poels takes over for Ineos with Thomas and Bernal on his wheel. 

 

Nibali and Caruso lead the break, and their efforts have seen Woods and Ciccone drop out of the back.

 

45km remaining from 126km

Alaphilippe is alone in the yellow jersey group. Enric Mas has been dropped under the weight of Poels' forcing. George Bennett has also lost contact, leaving Kruijswijk alone in the group, though the Dutchman does still have De Plus up the road in the break. 

 

Nairo Quintana has been dropped from the yellow jersey group as Poels continues to force the pace. Quintana impressed so much yesterday that he breathed some life into his fading podium challenge, but it has ended defintiively here.

 

44km remaining from 126km

The break's lead is down to just 31 seconds as Poels still sets a brisk tempo in the yellow jersey group. 6km of the Iseran remain...

 

43km remaining from 126km

Geraint Thoma attacks from the yellow jersey group. He opens a small gap but Bora-Hansgrohe' are shutting him down.

 

When Thomas is brought back, Kruijswijk accelerates and opens a small gap. Alaphilippe is battling to stay on the wheels behind...

 

42km remaining from 126km

Thomas follows Kruijswijk. This duo has a small gap over Buchmann, Bernal and Landa. Alaphilppe has been distanced, but he can still see his rivals just ahead of him. He still has 5.5km of the Iseran to go...

 

Bernal and Buchmann have joined Thomas and Kruijswijk. This quartet is picking off the remnants of the break and is gaining ground on Alaphilippe.

 

43km remaining from 126km

Now it's Egan Bernal's turn to attack, and this could be the decisive move. The Colombian has moved clear of Thomas, Kruijswijk and Buchmann. Alaphilippe is struggling further down the mountain.

 

42km remaining from 126km

Bernal is at the head of the race in the company of Barguil, Simon Yates and Nibali. He has 14 seconds on Thomas, Kruijswijk, Laurens De Plus and Buchmann, and 36 seconds on Alaphilippe with 4km of the Iseran remaining.

 

41km remaining from 126km

The situation with a little under 4km of the Iseran left: Egan Bernal (Ineos) is in front with Warren Barguil, Rigoberto Uran, Vincenzo Nibali and Simon Yates. 

Geraint Thomas, Steven Kruijswijk, Laurens De Plus and Emanuel Buchmann are at 15 seconds.

Julian Alaphilippe is 50 seconds behind.

 

41km remaining from 126km

The situation with a little under 4km of the Iseran left: Egan Bernal (Ineos) is in front with Warren Barguil, Rigoberto Uran, Vincenzo Nibali and Simon Yates. 

Geraint Thomas, Steven Kruijswijk, Laurens De Plus and Emanuel Buchmann are at 15 seconds.

Julian Alaphilippe is 50 seconds behind.

 

40km remaining from 126km

In the virtual overall standings, Bernal is now 27 seconds down on Alaphilippe and edging ever closer to the maillot jaune. Alaphilippe will need to produce the descent of his life to resurrect this situation. 

 

39km remaining from 126km

De Plus sets the tempo in the Thomas group, which is still only 16 seconds down with a mile of the Iseran left. 

 

Nibali has been dropped from the Bernal group. Uran has also lost contact as Barguil sets the tempo.

 

38km remaining from 126km

Bernal kicks again, and only Simon Yates can follow as Barguil loses ground. Bernal has 21 seconds on Thomas and 1:24 on Alaphilippe. The Colombian is in the process of moving into the yellow jersey.

 

Egan Bernal is virtual overall leader of the Tour as he extends his lead over Alaphilippe to 1:30 in the final kilometre of the Col de l'Iseran.

 

Bernal is now putting Simon Yates into difficulty, but the Briton is just about staying in contact. They have 38 seconds in hand on Thomas, Kruijswijk, De Plus, Buchmann and Nibali. Alaphilippe is at 1:40.

 

38km remaining from 126km

Egan Bernal has dropped Simon Yates and now he is all alone on the Iseran, riding toward the yellow jersey, though he has a long descent and the climb to Tignes still to come. The Colombian will take the 8-second bonus at the top, but he could do with some company in the valley before Tignes.

 

De Plus sets the tempo in the Thomas group, and they have picked up Uran. Alaphilippe, meanwhile, is now 1:55 down and it's difficult to imagine how there can be any way back for the Frenchman now.

 

37km remaining from 126km

Egan Bernal crosses the top of the Iseran alone. He takes an 8-second time bonus and throws himself into the descent.

 

Thomas, Kruisjwijk, De Plus, Buchmann, Nibali and Uran have been joined by Mikel Landa. They cross the top of the Iseran 1:00 down on Bernal.

 

Alaphilippe reaches the same point all alone, 2:09 down on Bernal. The yellow jersey takes noticeable risks on the first two corners of the descent...

 

33km remaining from 126km

Simon Yates catches Bernal on the descent. He could be a very useful ally of circumstance for the Colombian ahead of the final climb to Tignes. 

 

32km remaining from 126km

Bernal is extending his lead on the descent. He has 1:10 on the Thomas group and 2:05 on Alaphilippe.

 

A heavy hail storm has hit the Val d'Isere, where Bernal and Yates will be arriving imminently en route to Tignes. 

 

Word reaching us that the heavy shower of sleet and snow in the Val d'Isere has caused the stage to be stopped from the top of the Col de l'Iseran!

 

The stage is over... The times for GC will be taken from the top of the Col de l'Iseran as the road to Tignes was impassable. Egan Bernal is the new yellow jersey.

 

Christian Prudhomme pulls up alongside Simon Yates and Egan Bernal in the race director's car and explains the situation to them. Confusion reigns on the Tour but from what we understand right now, the stage finished atop the Iseran. 

 

The riders are soft-pedalling down the descent. Uran and Nibali couldn't hide their annoyance, and Alaphilippe cut a forlorn figure when he caught the Thomas group and realised what had happened. 

 

The Tour de France has taken its imitation of the Giro d'Italia to new extremes. The riders are still descending the Iseran and confusion reigns. We think the stage win will be awarded to Bernal, with the time taken from atop the Iseran. That would put the Colombian in yellow - but we can surely expect polemics and objections from Deceuninck-QuickStep and perhaps others.

For now at least, Egan Bernal is the new yellow jersey. ASO have formally confirmed that the race has been stopped with the times taken from the top of the Iseran. the riders are approaching the icy section of road that caused the race to be stopped. Alaphilippe wheels to halt, pulls on a long-sleeve yellow jersey and now leans against the bonnet of the Deceuninck-QuickStep team car. 

We have seen episodes like this - the Stelvio stage of the 2014 Giro, the Ventoux stage of the 2016 Tour - but nothing exactly like this. It's no hyperbole to say this is one of the most extraordinary moments in Tour history.

 

The television images, however, show that the sudden shower of hail and sleet made the road too treacherous to ride at the base of the descent of the Iseran. It seems the commissaires had no other choice but to bring the stage to a halt. Helicopter images focus on a snow plough clearing the road. 

 

Christian Prudhomme explains the situation to a rueful Geraint Thomas. The Ineos leadership question may well have been settled atop the Iseran.

 

As Trek-Segafredo posted on social media, this is why the stage was stopped early.

 

It appears that the issue was not just the ice, but also a mudslide between the base of Iseran and the climb to Tignes. 

 

While ASO have informed us that the times will be taken from the top of the Iseran, we are still awaiting confirmation of those times and thus of the new overall standings.

 

Bernal had 2:09 on Alaphilippe at the summit per my watch. That would put him 39 seconds up on the Frenchman on GC before time bonuses are factored in. And there is a question over time bonuses - does Bernal get the 8-second bonus for leading over the Iseran or a 10-second bonus for stage winner, if stage victory is indeed awarded at all.

 

As far as I'm aware, there was no electronic timing atop the Iseran, and so the commissaires will likely have to pick through race footage to decipher the time gaps at the top. We might be waiting a while longer for the stage results and new GC to be published...

 

The riders, meanwhile, are climbing into team vehicles to be driven to Tignes. The stage is over, but the fall-out is only beginning.

 

Deceuninck-QuickStep have posted this image of the mudslide that led to the abrupt end to this stage. (Source: Twitter).

 

We're still waiting for confirmation of the revised GC standings. My (very) rough estimate is that Bernal will carry a lead of 48 seconds over Alaphilippe into stage 20 and 1:13 over Thomas. That would leave Kruisjwijk at 1:25 in 4th and Buchmann 1:52 down in 5th.

 

 

Julian Alaphilippe reacts to today's events: “I gave everything, I was beaten by stronger riders. It was a dream to wear the yellow jersey. It was longer than I could have imagined. I gave the maximum. I didn’t dream that I would go on to win the Tour but I fought to the summit and on the descent too. I was carried along by the craziness of the yellow jersey. The result doesn’t matter much, I gave everything.”

 

Ineos directeur sportif Nicolas Portal: “It’s good for the security of the riders. The ideal would have been if the race hadn’t stopped so that we could take more time on the last climb. The race hasn’t been turned upside down. We would have liked to have done the last climb but it’s like that. ASO did a very good job. We have to concentrate on tomorrow. We have the jersey. It was hard to drop Julian.”

 

The last time the weather shortened a Tour stage was in 1996 and it was also in this neck of the woods. Stage 9 on that occasion was supposed to be a 176km leg from Val d'Isere to Sestriere but heavy snow on the Galibier forced the stage start to be moved forward to  Le Monêtier-les-Bains. Bjarne Riis won a shortened 46km stage to move into the yellow jersey. You can read the Cyclingnews report from that day in 1996 here.

 

 

ASO have confirmed that Egan Bernal will be presented with the maillot jaune on the podium in Tignes. We await confirmation of his overall lead, which should be in the region of 47 seconds.

 

Confirmation that the time cut will not be applied to today's stage, whatever the gaps atop the Iseran. Men like Alex Dowsett, who was distanced early on, will live to fight another day.

 

In 2013, RCS Sport were able to stop Milan-San Remo after the Turchino, bundle the riders onto buses and restart the race on the Riviera, but it seems it was impossible to do so here as the landslide made the road to Tignes unrideable.

 

Bahrain-Merida manager Brent Copeland to RAI television: "I spoke to Gorazd Stangelj in the race. There was a lot of confusion on the decent as the race direction told the riders what was happening. It’s all very strange, I’ve never seen anything like this. I’ve seen snow before a stage and so the stage was shortened but this seems very stranger. But seeing the images of the roads, it’s right to stop the riders."

 

There will be no stage winner's time bonus for Bernal, but it seems the GC gaps will be tighter than the on-screen graphics atop the Iseran suggested. Eurosport's hypothesis is that Alaphilippe will be 25 seconds behind, with Thomas at 1:06. We still await official confirmation. 

 

It appears that Bernal will not be awarded the stage victory, but he will, of course, have his time advantage from atop the Iseran applied to the overall standings.

 

Deceuninck-QuickStep directeur sportif Geert Van Bondt to Sporza: "It is a pity that the race was cancelled. We thought that Julian could make time in the descent. But the safety of the riders now prevails over the race. Safety is the most important thing."

 

LeTour.fr reports that Bernal's provisional advantage atop the Iseran was 50 seconds on Thomas and 2:07 on Alaphilippe, but the same post inaccurately reports Uran's deficit as 2:30 (he was in sight of the Thomas group at the top), so this is far from definitive just yet.

 

As reported, there will be no stage winner's bonus awarded today, but Bernal does pick up 8 additional seconds as the first rider across the Iseran. Simon Yates took the 5-second bonus for second, while Warren Barguil hoovered up the 2-second bonus for third.

 

If Letour.fr's reported time gap of 2:07 to Alaphilippe is confirmed, then Bernal's advantage on GC would be 45 seconds. But the commissaires have yet to issue any official results, so this is all guesswork for the time being. 

 

A (very) provisional and utterly unofficial estimate of the current GC picture:

 

1 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Ineos
2 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 00:00:48
3 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Ineos 00:01:03
4 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma 00:01:15
5 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:01:42
 

 

A (very) provisional estimate of the GC picture, though we still await formal confirmation of the time gaps on the Iseran: 

 

1 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Ineos
2 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 00:00:45
3 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Ineos 00:01:03
4 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma 00:01:15
5 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:01:42
 

 

 

Egan Bernal has arrived in Tignes where he will become the third Colombian to wear the maillot jaune after Victor Hugo Pena and Fernando Gaviria. He is now on the brink of becoming the first Colombian to win the Tour - and he is still only 22 years old.

 

You can find images and video of the conditions that caused today's neutralisation here and a report of the stage action here. News of Thibaut Pinot's abandon is here. Alasdair Fotheringham will have a fuller account, including all the reaction from Groupama-FDJ, in due course.

The initial reaction from Team Ineos, who are on the brink of a seventh Tour win in eight years. The house, it seems, always wins. We'll have more later from Egan Bernal who is currently in the mixed zone in Tignes. 

 

 

 

Egan Bernal in the yellow jersey on the podium in Tignes.

 

Egan Bernal to France Televisions: "I don’t know what happened. I was going full on. I had attacked and then they told me to stop. I said no! Not now! Then they told me that the race had been stopped. When they explained that I was the leader and I had the yellow jersey, I couldn’t believe it. The tar was dry but you couldn’t continue with the road in that state up ahead. In that moment, it was very bizarre. What counts is that I have the yellow jersey, it was a dream for me. It’s something incredible. Tomorrow there is still a very hard stage. But when they gave me the yellow jersey and the lion, I really wanted to cry. I still can’t believe it.”

 

Julian Alaphilippe is 45 seconds behind Bernal on GC as things stand, and he does not believe he can recoup that deficit on the road to Val Thorens on Saturday. "I don't think so. It was already a dream to wear the jersey. I've pursued the dream for a long time – a lot longer than I ever imagined. Voila, that's how it is." Patrick Fletcher has more here.

 

 

 

Thibaut Pinot to France Televisions on his untimely abandon early on stage 19. The Frenchman was the strongest rider in the Pyrenees and looked poised to bridge that 34-year gap to Bernard Hinault. “I kept fighting. I kept believing and hoping it [his injury] would pass. It’s the biggest disappointment of my career. I felt since Sunday in the Pyrenees that I was capable of doing it [winning the Tour]. I was convinced that I was going to do it, that nothing could happen to me. Now we’ll never know. I’m fed up, it’s going to take some time to digest… it’s the Tour! I took a little blow when avoiding a crash in Nîmes. I had a lot of pain when I made an acceleration yesterday. I must have had a little muscle tear that became aggravated.”

 

As well as taking the maillot jaune, Bernal has claimed leadership of Team Ineos, as Geraint Thomas confirmed. "Most definitely. Going into the last stage, with Egan in yellow, the main thing is that he finishes the job now," Thomas said. "For sure, he has decent advantage over everyone else. So yeah, fully support him now." Read the full story here.

 

Finally, the commissaires have released the definitive results of today's stage and the general classification. It turns out that our estimate that Bernal has a 48-second lead on Alaphilippe was correct after all. 

 

There were the official time gaps atop the Col de l'Iseran, where the GC clock stopped on stage 19;

 


1 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Ineos 02:40:31
2 Simon Yates (Gbr) Mitchelton-Scott 00:00:13
3 Warren Barguil (Fra) Arkea-Samsic 00:00:40
4 Laurens De Plus (Bel) Jumbo-Visma 00:01:03
5 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
6 Geraint Thomas (Gbr) Team Ineos
7 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
8 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
9 Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First
10 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Movistar Team
11 Richie Porte (Aus) 00:0'20
12 Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe
13 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 00:01:49
14 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
15 Wout Poels (Ned) Team Ineos
16 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 00:02:10
17 Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty-Groupe Gobert 00:02:29
18 Andrey Amador (Crc) Movistar Team 00:02:45
19 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team
20 Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Astana Pro Team
 

 

General classification after stage 19:

 

1 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Ineos 78:00:42
2 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:00:48
3 Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Ineos 0:01:16
4 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:01:28
5 Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:01:55
6 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team 0:04:35
7 Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First 0:05:14
8 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 0:05:17
9 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:06:25
10 Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo 0:06:28
11 Warren Barguil (Fra) Arkéa Samsic 0:07:03
12 Guillaume Martin (Fra) Wanty-Gobert 0:16:18
13 David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ 0:20:45
14 Fabio Aru (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 0:23:14
15 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Dimension Data 0:26:10
16 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:26:26
17 Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team 0:40:17
18 Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) Groupama-FDJ 0:40:45
19 Daniel Martin (Irl) UAE Team Emirates 0:42:37
20 George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma 0:44:27

 

The full results, report and pictures from today's remarkable stage of the Tour de France are available here.

 

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