Le Tour 2019 - Stage 20

To the Max

After yesterday’s cooling off stage with absolutely freakish weather, the bizarre weather continued, forcing the last mountain stage to be cut short, with a short flat section, and then smash fest up to Val Thorens. Riders, at least those wanting either the stage win, or to fight for the GC would need to ride to their max, and be on or above their limits.

A break went from the beginning, which contained ex TdF winner Vincenzo Nibali, and on the upper slopes of Val Thorens, after the break had been allowed to get over 2 minutes on the GC favourites, he maxed out and rode to a fantastic victory. Behind Jumbo Visma set an infernal pace hoping that Kruijswijk would attack, but this didn’t happen, but it did distance Alaphilippe, who tumbled a few places down the GC to fifth. This has been an amazing Tour for Alaphilippe.

Up front, Nibali would have been on the limit to stay to stay away from the GC riders, and his lead was closed down to just a scant 10-seconds on the line. However, this sort of win would have required many hours of training riding at or close to his FTP in small block of 15 to 60-minutes especially being done uphill. He’d have completed many sessions for example riding up Mount Tiede which would have also helped him to become resistant (or more correctly to minimise the damage) that altitude causes. For more regular riders, completing 20-minutes at FTP repeated 1 to 3 times in a session, and between 1 and 3 times per week would help to increase your FTP. However, also, it’s important to increase your VO2max and this is done with shorter, harder efforts of 3 to 6 minutes, repeated 3 to 8 times.

Egan Bernal, is I think the youngest winner of the Tour in recent history and has proved to be a great racer. He’s conducted himself well, and lived with the best, even though he had an off day in the Pyrenees where he was put into a tiny amount of trouble. It looks like he’ll have many more Tour wins to come.

Richard Stern