Severe weather threw a wrench into the 2019 Tour de France and led officials to stop stage 19 on Friday, after the course route became impassable due to a mudslide and hail storm.
With around 30 kilometers left in the stage for the leaders, the decision was made to call off the rest of the stage and take the split times from the Col d’Iseran. As a result, France’s Julian Alaphilippe lost his yellow jersey to Egan Bernal, who had mounted a charge on the climb and reached the peak two minutes before Alaphilippe.
Alaphilippe had closed the gap after passing the peak where the times were taken, but his hard work was erased due to the weather conditions.
The unbelievable footage shows officials had little choice but to stop the race to keep riders safe. According to reports, precipitation triggered a landslide that covered the road, and while bulldozers were used to try and clear the path, there was no chance to safely finish the stage.
In the end, it was Egan Bernal who won the Tour de France 2019, followed by teammate, Geraint Thomas and Steven Kruijswijk.
As early as stage three to Épernay, Bernal was straining at the leash, tempted to shatter his team’s strategy by following Julian Alaphilippe as he attacked on the Cote de Mutigny.
“He’s a pleasure to ride with,” Thomas said. “I don’t want to put pressure on the lad but he’s 22, he’s got 10 years in front of him, he could become one of the greatest ever. Froome is probably the best Grand Tour rider at the moment with his record and consistency but I think Egan can be just as good, or even improve.”
“The harder the race gets, the better he gets,” he said. “I think that’s why as a Grand Tour contender now and in the future, the ability to resist fatigue is one of his greatest strengths.”
Bernal was even dubbed as the ‘New Chris Froome‘ by Ineos team chief, Dave Brailsford. Bernal’s victory is the seventh in eight years for a British-based team, after Ineos took over the ownership of the Team Sky squad earlier this year.
Bradley Wiggins became the first British winner of the race in 2012, with Chris Froome triumphing in 2013 and then claiming three in succession from 2015 before Thomas took last year’s title.
Bernal is just the third Colombian to win one of cycling’s three Grand Tours. Nairo Quintana won the 2014 Giro d’Italia and 2016 Vuelta a Espana, while Luis Herera won the Vuelta in 1987.
Froome’s season-ending crash at the Criterium du Dauphine helped thrust Bernal into the spotlight. The Colombian made great leaps and strides up the Ineos pecking order for the Tour de France. Later on, when Thomas’ spill at the Tour de Suisse occurred, Egan Bernal took over as the sole leader of that team and he went on to win the race.
The 22-year old Egan Bernal is the third youngest winner of the Tour de France, behind France’s Henri Cornet and Luxembourg’s Francois Faber.