Le Tour 2019 - Stage 19

Cooling Off!

Well, yesterday, I may have said the race was hotting up, but today, it was definitely cooling off! In a somewhat bizarre twist of events, which haven’t at the time of writing been finalised, the Tour has been turned upside down.

Firstly, we’ve had the very sad abandon Thibault Pinot, with a muscle tear injury. He retired early on the stage apparently in excruciating pain, and having lost 4 plus minutes on the GC group. Then after Egan Bernal attacked and started putting significant time (2-mins or so) at the summit of the giant Col de Iseran (2770m) in Julian Alaphilippe. On the descent it looked like Alaphilippe started to take some time back on the Bernal/Simon Yates tandem and the Geraint Thomas GC group. I’d expected he would have pulled the time back by the end of the descent on the Thomas group. However, part of the way down the sinuous descent of the Iseran, the race was stopped due to snow, hail, and a landslide at the bottom of the descent in Val d’Isere.

Riders, were initially confused and wanted to carry on. However, the road was simply not safe for the race to continue, and there were also spectators and others at risk. The weather was simply freakish after the scorching weather of the previous few days.

UCI rules state that the organisers can take the times at whatever point they like having declared the stage cancelled, and that’s what they did. Time was taken at the top of the Iseran.

Who knows what would have happened had the race continued. Buchmann looked like he was waiting for the finish climb as did perhaps Thomas. Maybe Alaphilippe would have caught the Thomas group on the Iseran descent, but who knows what would have happened after that.

It’s a bizarre day, and now we just have one stage to Val Thorens to go (plus the procession into Paris).

Richard Stern