The 2019 Tour de France has ended, but we are at the start of the Egan Bernal era of cycling. At only 22 years old, he is expected to be a strong competitor for years to come. The final stage to Paris is largely ceremonial but an opportunity for one final sprint, This year it was won by Caleb Ewan, his third stage win in this Tour. Now we experience Tour withdrawal while we wait for next year.
Stage 20 was shorted due to the threat of bad weather again today, so the peleton started strong in the Alps. The stage was won by a previous Tour champion, Vincezo Nibali and the overall victory by Egan Bernal was solidified. Many significant stats with Bernal's upcoming win tomorrow: first rider from Columbia to ever win, the youngest rider this year at age 22, and only the 5th rider to win the yellow and white jersey (for best young rider) at the same time.
As if the Tour does not have enough surprises, today the stage race was cut short due to weather for the safety of the riders. Egan Bernal was declared the winner of the stage due to his time at the top of the mountain before the race was halted. Alaphilippe lost the yellow jersey he wore for 14 days, a disappointment for the French who were hoping a countryman would win for the first time in 34 years. There is one more mountain stage and then the ride into Paris.
The Alps in France are harder than the Pyrenees mountains were earlier because they have steeper grades and higher altitudes but there was only a small shake up in the overall standings. Alaphilippe retained the yellow jersey by making up time descending the mountain and with assistance from a team mate. Nairo Quintana was the winner of the stage, but with only 3 more days to go, the race is still up for grabs.
Teams that have not yet won a stage were all competing for this one while at the same time other riders were trying to save energy for the next 3 days in the Alps that will be brutal between the elevation and the heat. Matteo Trentin prevailed by breaking away after the 2nd category climb and riding solo for the win.
Cabel Ewan won his 2nd stage coming out on top of a field of the best sprinters in the world. At 200 meters out from the finish, he was not in the best position but by deploying team work, patience, power, and aerodynamics he rolled across the fishing in the primo position. He will need to hang on in the mountain stages the next few days, and will have an opportunity for another sprint finish on the Champs de Elysee on Sunday.
This was another hard mountain stage won by one of the contenders, Simon Yates. Everyone is tired including the wearer of the yellow jersey who is showing signs of cracking. This is where a strong team is valuable to assist, but Julian Alaphilippe's team is not considered the strongest and his lead was reduced. With a Frenchman in the lead and the race in France, the crowds do not get any better than this anywhere in sports. Tomorrow is a rest day.
They say that Julian Alaphilippe is the gift to this year's Tour that keeps on giving. He showed that he can climb in really big mountains with the best riders and commentators are increasingly saying his total win is sustainable, not just one more day in the yellow jersey. Some of the contenders had bad legs after yesterday's time trial including the defending champion, Geraint Thomas, who lost time, but the teams will be a big factor. There is still a lot to come.
Today the individual time trial was every rider for himself with the clock. It was a technical course with climbs and descents and the weather was hot. Race leaders ride last and most conserved energy yesterday for today. They say when you wear the yellow jersey you ride like two men, and that is what happened--Julian Alaphilppe won/ crushed/powered/stormed/shashed to victory by 14 seconds and extended his overall lead.
Today was the start of a series of mountain stages and the stage included two category 1 climbs. The last climb was long, but not that steep so there was no benefit to attack until the very end. The breakaway started with 42 riders and ended up with 3 riders competing for the stage win with Simon Yates winning his first Tour stage. No changes to the overall standings,
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