Tour de France: Bernal takes yellow from Alaphilippe as hail stops stage 19

Egan Bernal took the Tour de France yellow jersey from Julian Alaphilippe as a hailstorm and reported landslides forced stage 19 to be stopped before the final climbing into Tignes

The most dramatic mountain stage yet in the 2019 Tour de France ended in chaos when race organisers were forced to abandon the schemed finish at Tignes because of a combination of hail, flooding and landslides, as Egan Bernal moved into the yellow jersey.

As the Colombian rode clear towards a likely stage victory and the maillot jaune , having eventually distanced the long-term race leader, Julian Alaphilippe, severe climate on the long and rapid descent of the Col de l’Iseran caused the stage to be stopped.

While Bernal and Simon Yates plummeted down the Iseran climb, with Geraint Thomas in a seek group that included their contenders Steven Kruijswijk and Emmanuel Buchmann, images of the adverse conditions filled Tv screens across France.

The race was immediately neutralised and the rest of the stage aborted with five kilometres of hail, flooding and mudslides rendering the route towards Tignes too dangerous to race. The time gaps at the summit of the giant Col de l’Iseran, which the Colombian intersected first, were then reflected in the overall standings, with Bernal awarded the race lead.

” There was no way through ,” the Tour director, Christian Prudhomme, said.” They could not pass that .”

After the flood water receded, the results showed that Bernal results Alaphilippe by 48 seconds and his Ineos teammate Geraint Thomas by 1min 16 sec.

Eventually presented with the yellow jersey at the schemed finish in Tignes, the Colombian bowed his head and wept.

Quick guide

Tour de France: official standings after stage 19

Stage 19 results

General classification

1 Egan Bernal( Col) Team Ineos at 78 hrs 0mins 42 secs, 2 Julian Alaphilippe( Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep at 48 secs, 3 Geraint Thomas( Gbr) Team Ineos at 1min 16 secs, 4 Steven Kruijswijk( Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma at 1min 28 secs, 5 Emanuel Buchmann( Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe at 1min 55 secs, 6 Mikel Landa( Spa) Movistar Team at 4mins 35 secs, 7 Rigoberto Uran( Col) EF Education First at 5mins 14 secs, 8 Nairo Quintana( Col) Movistar Team at 5mins 17 secs, 9 Alejandro Valverde( Spa) Movistar Team at 6mins 25 secs, 10 Richie Porte( Aus) Trek-Segafredo at 6mins 28 secs

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“It’s just incredible,” Bernal said.” There is a hard stage tomorrow with a lot of tough climbing but I will now do everything that I can to hold on to this jersey until the race finishes in Paris .”

But Bernal admitted he had initially ignored the race neutralisation.” I hear some words in English but I didn’t really understand what they were saying ,” he said.” I didn’t realise that they wanted us to stop. I asked them to repeat what they were saying in Spanish and it was only then that I actually understood what was actually going on.

” I was feeling really good and when they said that I had to stop I told them:’ No, I’m not going to .’ But then they explained to me that I was the race leader and would be in the yellow jersey. I couldn’t believe it and I still don’t believe it. I’m so happy .”

” It was dangerous ,” Dave Brailsford said of the neutralisation.” When I consider the landslide and people running away, that was nothing to do with sport. My dad’s a mountain guide. That kind of thing is dangerous .”

Julian Alaphilippe cuts a thwarted figure as he climbs into his squad automobile following the abandonment. Photograph: Marco Bertorello/ AFP/ Getty Images

Marc Madiot, director of Thibaut Pinot’s Groupama FDJ team, concurred.” The safety of the riders is the first priority ,” he said.” Imagine if one, two or three of them had crashed and ended up in a ravine or in hospital. Then what ?”

But Bernal was not the only rider in tears. There was a funereal ambiance among the crowds in Tignes, more to do with Thibaut Pinot’s dramatic abandonment, than the extreme weather conditions on the descent from the Iseran.

Pinot’s hopes of a yellow jersey aimed earlier in the stage, as the Frenchman ground to a halt on the Montee d’Aussois, crying his eyes out, and left the race.

A muscle tear in his left thigh bring an aim to the Frenchman’s race as the gnawing dread among all French fans that his body might let him down yet again became a reality. Pinot started the stage to Tignes with his thigh strapped and had, according to his Groupama FDJ team, struggled to walk on the evening of the stage finish in Valloire.

According to his athletics director, Philippe Maudit, Pinot had banged the inside of his left thigh hard on the handlebars when avoiding a crash during the stage to Gap.

” The pain just got worse. We supposed, despite everything, he might be able to carry on but we knew it would be complicated if the race was hard ,” Maudit said.” He’s been in pain since the start. It wasn’t possible to keep riding .”

The fragility that caused Pinot to abandon the 2018 Giro d’Italia with pneumonia, 48 hours from the finish, while third overall hit again. In seven Tour starts Pinot has finished only three.

” I did all I could ,” the Frenchman said.” I believed I might have had a chance[ of continuing] and that it would pass. But unfortunately it did not. I was convinced that I could possibly win the Tour but unfortunately now I will never know. It will be hard to get over this .”

As Pinot exited the race, the dizzying heights of the Iseran also put paid to Alaphilippe and his dream finally came to an objective 38 km from the finish when Bernal attacked to leave him behind.

In a distance of a mere two kilometres, Bernal took back his deficit, and became the Tour’s yellow jersey along the road. Even a spate of verbal self-flagellation by Alaphilippe, who swore and cursed at himself, as he struggled to keep pace, did nothing to help.

Afterwards Thomas accepted his teammate’s supremacy.” The main thing is we’ve got the jersey in the team now ,” the defend champ said.” We’re in a great position. We’ve just got to go and finish the job off tomorrow.

” Egan’s in yellow so the mainthing is he finishes the job. For sure he’ll have a decent advantage over everyone else, so we’ll fully support him now .”

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