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Bernal snatches yellow from Alaphilippe as landslide, icy snow forces mid-stage cancellation

A dramatic day a the Tour de France on Stage 19 saw the GC lead change hands and chaos reign after a freak storm

In a bizarre conclusion to the nineteenth stage of the Tour de France, the race was stopped with 30-kilometres to race because of a landslide and icy snow on the downhill of the penultimate climb.

Egan Bernal, who was first over that climb, Col de l’Iseran, was not awarded the stage victory but assumed the yellow jersey from Julian Alaphilippe by virtue of his time gap cresting the mountain. It appears that yet another Tour de France is heading towards a Sky/Ineos victory, seven in eight years with four different riders.

The Course

The profile went upward right from the start in Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, with two early Cat. 3s and a Cat 2 climb before the HC Col de l’Ilseran and the summit finish up at Tignes. It was the penultimate day in the Alps.

Pinot Abandons

Michael Woods was active early and joined a dangerous breakaway that formed on the first two climbs. His seventh place on Thursday after his inclusion in the breakaway saw him leap ten places on GC to 36th.

Behind, fifth-place Thibaut Pinot was struggling with a left calf problem, something of which his team was obviously aware, as there were no teammates around him. Having visited the medical and stopped for care, the Frenchman abandoned in tears. Pinot’s Groupama-FDJ team tweeted, “Thibaut suffers from a muscle injury in his left thigh. He finished the 18th stage with significant pain and had difficulty walking in the evening. His condition did not improve on Friday.”

The most dangerous riders in the 29-strong breakaway were 9th place Rigoberto Uran and 10th place Alejandro Valverde. Damiano Caruso was in the escape looking to nick Romain Bardet’s polka dot jersey.

Col de l’Ilseran

At 12.9 km of 7.5 percent, the Col de l’Ilseran was also the Souvenir Henri Desgrande at 2770-metres. The Woods-Uran-Valverde group was down to 22 riders with 1:46 over the yellow jersey group by the time it started up. Ineos drove the streamlined GC gang, isolating Alaphilippe and dropping Thursday’s winner Nairo Quintana. Woods fell away from the breakaway with 7.3-km left to climb.

Geraint Thomas was the first to attack. This drew a counterattack from Steven Kruijswijk. The activity popped off Alaphilippe and Mikel Landa. Bernal then made a dig. The two groups intermingled with 4.8-km left to climb.

Bernal carried on with remnants of the breakaway.

Now solo, Bernal took the Souvenir Henri Desgrande and maximum bonus seconds at the peak of Ilseran. Thomas, Landa and Kruijswijk were 56-seconds in arrears, while Alaphillipe was 2:00 back.

The Landslide

At first it appeared that only hail and snow had fallen on the far slope of the climb in Val d’Isere. A truck tried to clear it.

Simon Yates rejoined Bernal on the descent. Everyone was racing towards dark skies at the finish at Tignes.

The race was stopped, but the riders, still riding on dry roads, were very confused, with Vincenzo Nibali and Uran arguing about the chaotic situation. It was difficult for the cycling world to understand what was going on until the photos of the landslide emerged. It turned out there was no road to race on anymore.

It was decided that the day’s times would be taken atop l’Iseran.

When the riders pulled into Val d’Isere, Bernal seemed poised to take the yellow jersey, although his ceremony was to be held much later. The organizers announced there would be no stage winner.

Order at the top of the Col de l’Iseran
1) Egan Bernal (Colombia/Ineos)
2) Simon Yates (Great Britain/Mitchelton-Scott) +0:05
3) Warren Barguil (France/Arkea-Samsic) +0:41

2019 Tour de France GC

1) Egan Bernal (Colombia/Ineos)
2) Julian Alaphilippe (France/Deceuninck-Quick Step) +0:45
3) Geraint Thomas (Great Britain/Ineos) +1:03
4) Steven Kruijswijk (The Netherlands/Jumbo-Visma) +1:15
5) Emanual Buchmann (Germany/Bora-Hansgrohe) +1:42