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Tour de France Stage 20 Preview

The final mountain stage and an abbreviated route. Once Thibaut Pinot abandoned it seems Mother Nature has thrown in the towel too and blocked roads all over the region, resulting in last-minute course change. But there’s still all to race for, Egan Bernal could win the Tour without a stage win which is very rare while Steven Kruijswijk and Emanuel Buchmann are unlikely to settle for fourth and fifth overall, surely their teams will throw everything at the final climb to crack Alaphilippe again and try to topple Thomas?

Stage 19 Review: a hard start on the approach to the Iseran with the bunch split and riders dropped. Thibaut Pinot abandoned. He’d torn a muscle before and it turns out he had trouble walking after reaching Valloire. He started the day with strapping but it was too much and he left the race. He’ll be back but this exit will take some time to digest, he’d been crushing the pedals in the Pyrenees and even Egan Bernal couldn’t match him but now he, we and much of France can only wonder what could have been.

Meanwhile a breakaway of 26 riders coalesced around an early move of Vincenzo Nibali with the 9th, 10th and 12th overall in Rigoberto Urán, Alejandro Valverde and Warren Barguil and they were kept at minute and not much more by Ineos, Bora-Hansgrohe and Deceuninck-Quickstep. Ineos upped the pace on the Iseran to crack Julian Alaphilippe, first an attack from Thomas which was reeled in, then Egan Bernal went solo and was first over the pass. By this time there were reports of a hailstorm on the other side of the mountain and within minutes the race was halted with TV picking up images of the road carpeted white with hailstones and then further down on the course, a rockfall blocking the road. Was it the right decision? The answer is to put yourself in the race convoy and decide within a minute or two as riders hurtle downhill, rather than over breakfast this morning with more facts in your lap. In safety terms it was right but sportingly it’ll always be unsatisfying because of the synthetic result and the unanswered questions: could Bernal and Yates have combined to hold off the chase from Kruijswijk, De Plus and Buchmann with Thomas as gendarme? Or would the chase have caught a tired Bernal, prompting an alternative? Would Alaphilippe have got back on the descent to mark Thomas, or would have blown on the final climb. We’ll never know but today should be instructive.

The Route: just 59km. It’d be nice to regale readers with words about the scenic Cormet de Roselend and then the Col du Tra being much harder than the roadbook says, plus the most technical descent of the whole Tour with 29 hairpins… but a landslide has closed the Cormet and so the route has been hastily revised for today. It’s 30km up the Isère valley on the Route Nationale, an express road and then straight onto the final climb, a monster 33km ascension.

The 33km final climb is better broken down into three segments. The first 11km are on a small backroad with regular sections of 8% or more and this is the steepest part of the climb. 3okm later a selection can be made but this first part will thin things down. Then a middle section via Saint-Martin-de-Belleville that’s more gentle and big-ring territory in places, this is an awkward spot for any breakaway as here a strong team can set the pace. The final section is the last 13km with a regular, engineered 7% slope with a breather out the back of Les Menuires. It’s all on a big wide road and on TV will feel like slow motion.

The Finish: the riders go into Val Thorens and pass the finish line when the race visited for the only other time in 1994. It’s then out the back of the town and onto the ski slopes via small road that’s been freshly tarmacked. Soon after the flamme rouge it zig-zags at 12% before a finishing straight that’s 8% at first easing to 6% by the line.

The Contenders: Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) is in yellow and en route to winning the Tour de France only he hasn’t won a stage, only seven others have won the Tour without a stage win and if his team’s priority today is to guide him to the finish they’ll surely want to set him up for the win today too and show what he can do. The course suits him with the long climb to altitude.

The breakaway has a chance today, think Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) but they’ll need to deploy their whole team in some kind of team time trial to tow the break away. But Jumbo-Visma and Bora-Hansgrohe still trying to place their respective leaders Steven Kruijswijk and Emanuel Buchmann on the podium in Paris they have a shared interest in cracking Julian Alaphilippe and seeing if they can overhaul Geraint Thomas as well and this should see a high pace.

Egan Bernal
Buchmann, Landa, Kruijswijk, Thomas

 

Yellow story: does the yellow jersey give you wings? There must be an element of confirmation bias here because to get it often means a rider is in peak condition so they’re often exceeding expectations just to get it for a day. But there are reasons to think it helps, first it gives an objective to defend when some might otherwise sit up. Then there’s the effect of being cheered on, positive encouragement is a proven support in sport. Remember when we were asking whether Julian Alaphilippe could hold onto the jersey on the Planche des Belles Filles?

Weather: 25°C at the start in Albertville and half that at the finish with the risk of storms and the Savoie départment is under a weather alert today.

TV: the stage starts at 2.30pm CEST which implies an estimated finish time of around 4.35pm CEST.

 

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jerome Saturday, 27 July 2019, 6:17 am

    Considering where the race ‘finished’ on stage 19 he ‘won’ that stage. It does leave a sour taste in the mouth for the tour to be decided on such a moot scenario.

    • Chris_SK Saturday, 27 July 2019, 8:51 am

      I’m glad they didn’t assign a winner though, in case Simon Yates knew the top was the finish he may have gone deeper to hold the wheel in the last 1,5km.

      • Phil B Saturday, 27 July 2019, 6:34 pm

        the decision wasn’t made until the leaders got over the Iseran though, and were a fair way down. timing was odd to say the least.

  • G was robbed Saturday, 27 July 2019, 6:17 am

    Should be a fun stage to watch. Will have to set an alarm for the early climb and finish in the morning.

  • Augie March Saturday, 27 July 2019, 6:25 am

    To add my two cents in (since everyone else is doing so), the race jury/organisers seem to prioritise creating a narrative rather than doing the more boring, but fair thing, of declaring no result. You can’t have a race if no one knows what the finish line is, and declaring an arbitrary finishing line AFTER many riders have crossed it is stupid in the extreme. No one denies they did the right thing by stopping the race, but they also should have stopped the GC race and left it as it stood at the end of the previous stage. This reminds me of the chaos and bungling of the Mount Ventoux stage in 2016 when rather than neutralising the GC times or allowing the results of the chaos to stand because that’s bike racing, Froome and Porte were awarded Mollema’s time at the finish because, well I don’t know, because reasons I guess. In yesterday’s incident perhaps they decided the idea of the first Colombian to win the Tour de France would be a nice story to tell. As with the deeply unsatisfying conclusion to the recent cricket world cup, prestigious sporting events should not be decided on countback or whatever else by officials, they should be decided by the athletes.

    • Vegar Saturday, 27 July 2019, 7:14 am

      I fully agree that the whole stage should have been neutralized. In the end, Bernal might well have won the TdF now with a hazardous attack about to be reeled in en route to the last climb or exhausting him for today’s stage. Even if he wins today, it might have been a badly timed effort yesterday. We’ll never know, and sadly, that will be a big part of the legacy of what was about to be the best TdF for decades.

      The shortening of today’s stage only adds to the sense of anticlimax (as did Pinot’s exit).

      Well, whereas I’m disappointed and call it an anticlimax, the commentators on the channel I’m watching calls it the greatest TdF drama in the era of live broadcasting and replays the ‘spectacular’ images over and over again. I guess it’s a matter of perspective.

      • JeroenK Saturday, 27 July 2019, 7:38 am

        As far as I heard, the jury followed the rules. The general consensus among team directors was this was the least bad alternative and that any alternative was going to be unsatisfying. I agree and the Iseran finish roughly reflected who was strongest on the day.
        This Tour continues to provide drama! I fear the black hole coming monday…

        • BobH Saturday, 27 July 2019, 11:00 am

          “I fear the black hole coming Monday…”

          THIS!

          • Cheds Saturday, 27 July 2019, 1:16 pm

            Calm down.

    • Larry T Saturday, 27 July 2019, 8:24 am

      +1 One thing I find interesting is the old “what did they know and when did they know it?” question. If the road was blocked and the stage needed to be stopped, was this decision reached only AFTER the leaders went over the top of the Iseran? I find this hard to believe which means they surely knew what had happened and made this decision BEFORE anyone reached the summit.
      If that’s the case Radio Tour (for once earpieces might have been useful) could have announced the shortened stage BEFORE as was done back-in-the-day at the Giro when cars were buried in a snow slide. This way everyone would have/should have known and raced to the top of the Iseran accordingly. Of course with modern CYA tactics we’ll never know for sure if that was the case. It’s really a shame such an exciting race winds up with such a farcical ending.
      Hard not to wonder if in another era the man “gifted” the jersey might not have accepted it and insisted the stage results not be counted – or for that matter the race would have continued through the flooded and muddied roads to the finish like in 1910 at MSR or in the Giro on Monte Bondone in 1956 or even as recently as 1988 on the Passo Gavia. Pro cycling likes to be associated with epics like those, but they’re not keen on repeating any of them it seems.

      • JT Saturday, 27 July 2019, 8:40 am

        Come on Larry, the jersey was not gifted ! That is mean towards Verbal who had attacked and put a minute into his rivals. There was no good situation here but if they had cancelled the stage and Alaphilippe had won the tour, how would that have been fair ? I think this was the best of a bad situation.
        But I am upset as I believe Kruihswijk was clearly going to make a real race on the last climb.

        • Bern Saturday, 27 July 2019, 12:28 pm

          Love that spellcheck^^^

        • Larry T Saturday, 27 July 2019, 2:14 pm

          By my standards it was gift, but note that I wrote “in another era”. Two decades ago Ivan Gotti refused to don the Maglia Rosa after Marco Pantani had been tossed out of the race on what were (even now) dodgy circumstances. If what DaveRides writes is true the organizers made the right decision yesterday by stopping the race and going back to the last place on the route they had reliable times and places.
          In light of what has developed today, with this stage also being ruined due to weather issues, I will now concede annulling yesterday’s stage would be a mistake, robbing too many of their opportunities in the last phase of Le Grand Boucle.
          But to do the race (and their likely victory) justice I hope the INEOS team goes to the front today and pulls Bernal to a stage win and Thomas into 2nd on GC, removing most of the doubts on the overall outcome on a race that (sadly) will be forever tainted (just like this year’s Giro with the loss of the Gavia due to weather issues) in the minds of many.
          If that doesn’t happen, Alaphillipe’s team should RACE on Sunday and try to take back the yellow jersey rather than be a part of the parade into Paris! Vive LeTour!

      • Ecky Thump Saturday, 27 July 2019, 8:49 am

        I suppose it’s a reminder that they’re up at c 12,000 feet or so in Western Europe’s highest mountain range. It’s not a giant holiday park. The mountains should always be treated with respect, they’re not Zwift workouts or Strava segments ffs!

      • JeroenK Saturday, 27 July 2019, 8:54 am

        Larry, everyone knowing beforehand the finish would be on top of the Iseran would have been the best solution and I doubt the organisation and jury would disagree. It’s pretty hypothetical though: When reports started to come in of sudden bad weather on the other side of the col, the leaders were in the last 7 to 5 k. At that point the full impact on the road condition was not clear yet. All in all, I think the organizers, jury and probably local authorities were pretty fast with reaching a desicion, keeping in mind that you have to assess the situation first.

        Maybe, just maybe Bernal had not reached the top yet, but you have to understand it’s not as easy as it seems to inform everyone in time. Earpieces have to work and the communication has to be clear and fair too. You saw the confusion when the race was halted… It takes time to take in such a fact. You would not want the confusion to decide the race either. Two or 3 km to go and some riders know the finish is on top and others don’t; now thát would be unfair.

        As for the association with epics … have you seen the mud slide footage? That was way beyond the line of dangerous. Sure, a little hail or snow would be fine, but this is the equivalent of a road or a bridge collapsing. Anyone would have stopped the race, no question.

      • J Evans Saturday, 27 July 2019, 9:03 am

        There was a landslide. The pictures show there are rocks all over the road.
        The riders could stop, pick up their bikes and walk across those. They could also have ridden – slowly and carefully, mind – through the torrents of water and ice/slush that I’ve seen cascading down the roads, the big jessies.
        But what would happen if people had crashed and hurt themselves in that scenario? Or another, bigger, landslide happens and buries the poor bastards?
        I’m all for epic racing and not stopping races because of the weather, but sometimes there just isn’t a sensible option.
        I blame god, the twat.

        • BigBillBlues Saturday, 27 July 2019, 9:39 am

          If you watch the footage of the landslide, you will see that there was not one landslide but two, with observers scattering as the second one swept down.

          The idea of riders picking their way over debris with the risk of death or injury from further waves of mud and rocks is ludicrous.

          • The Inner Ring Saturday, 27 July 2019, 9:59 am

            Correct, there’s also the practical aspect of if the riders could clamber over (and no one would allow them to venture near the rocks in liquefaction) then how to get the commissaires, gendarme motos, and others to accompany them to ensure a fair race and a safe passage.

        • J Evans Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:39 am

          Was it not abundantly obvious that I was being sarcastic and not actually suggesting that this would be feasible?

          • BigBillBlues Saturday, 27 July 2019, 11:15 am

            Apologies.

            I should have read your comment more attentively.

          • J Evans Saturday, 27 July 2019, 12:07 pm

            BigBillBlues, fair play.

      • The Inner Ring Saturday, 27 July 2019, 9:32 am

        Yes, the decision was taken during the descent of the Iseran.

        • KevinR Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:41 am

          If my memory is correct, that doesn’t tally with the Eurosport coverage. However my memory is very unreliable!

          • DaveRides Saturday, 27 July 2019, 11:30 am

            Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think the Eurosport commentators have access to Radio Tour.

            The world feed commentators (Matt Keenan, Robbie McEwen) did have it, they were giving constant updates to the viewers.
            The summit was at 37.5km to go.
            Radio Tour was still talking about clearing the road and a possible neutralisation for the affected section when Bernal/Yates were at 32km to go.
            The abandoning of the stage came over Radio Tour at 29.5km to go.

      • Al__S Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:00 am

        If they had announced the new finish part way up the climb you would have various riders in each group finding out at different times, with the issues of radio reception and how quickly the team cars process what they’re being told over Radio Tour and communicate it to their riders (along with tactical calls). So you would get some riders launching out of groups whilst others would still be trying to confirm what they think they just heard.

      • DaveRides Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:19 am

        Matt Keenan and Robbie McEwen are among the few commentators who choose to have Radio Tour in their earpieces, they reported live that efforts were still going on to clear it and keep the race going after Bernal had passed the peak. The call to cancel only came over Radio Tour once the leaders were within 5km of the first water on the road.

        If that is reliable info, then I commend the race organisation for making every effort to keep it going

        As usual with most major decisions by UCI/ASO/RCS/CADF/WADA etc, a lot of speculation could be put to bed if they simply went for transparency and explained the decision. The best way to do this would be to upload a video showing the world feed with the audio from Radio Tour synchronised and overlaid on it.

        As for the riders, I’d go with no earpieces at all. Get rid of the 1980s two-way radios and instead replace them with modern technology:
        – race officials’ cars/motos having bright LED light bars like the F1 safety car: green = go racing, yellow = racing neutralised, do not pass the car/moto, red = race suspended, prepare to stop.
        – add in yellow/red flags as a backup for the light bars.
        – incorporate the rider-to-team part of the current radio communication into the NTT data tracking transponders, using a small controller on the handlebars or stem which would have buttons for requesting food/drink supply, requesting mechanical supply and an emergency button for a crash or medical emergency. Pressing the button would send the rider’s identity and GPS location to the race direction, neutral service and their team support vehicle.
        – once the above pieces of the puzzle are all operating, trial incorporating the red/yellow lights into the on-bike service button, just as drivers in pretty well all professional motorsport series these days have flag signals on their dashboard.

        I have noted that ASO is using LED panels for warning of dangerous corners, road furniture etc on the Tour route this year, so it looks like there is finally signs of movement into the 21st century.

        • J Evans Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:45 am

          These seem like good uses of technology: it is pretty amazing what they currently rely on.
          Potential flaws could be if the technology breaks down (which technology often does), e.g. no GPS signal, etc.
          You can back them up with the current systems, of course, but once people are reliant on the the tech. will they still respond to the more traditional methods?

          • DaveRides Saturday, 27 July 2019, 11:18 am

            You only need to spend a little time outside of the cycling bubble and looking at other sports to realise what a backward sport this is. Then you hop back into the bubble and realise that this all happened at the best organised race in the world!

            I think there would be alternatives to the GPS issue – local beacons on race officials cars maybe? NTT would have a good idea of their current data units’ reliability and of the future development path for it.

            Or maybe just … whatever they do currently when the radio doesn’t work?

        • RQS Saturday, 27 July 2019, 12:47 pm

          Watching it live, the ITV presenters said they had race radio. But they seemed a little oblivious to the extent of things until images were flashed up. They then said they were trying to clear it and then that the race was being neutralised, this was all once the lead riders had gone over the top. I think the decision was taken pretty quickly once the extent of it was known. I would not imagine that they knew about the landslide till a bit later, and really it was all about the extreme weather, which impacted heavily on road conditions. Last time riders had to run on the parcours they neutralised the race, which is, at best, what you would’ve ended up with. So correct decision made. I don’t see what relevance the criticism of the decision has since the road was impassable and conditions were dangerous.

          • Anonymous Sunday, 28 July 2019, 8:00 am

            Are you going to continue to bang your drum that Alaphilippe is doping?

      • KevinR Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:35 am

        +1 for your timing point Larry.

        • KevinR Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:38 am

          Although it’s easy to say from my sofa rather than at 8,000 feet on a Tour stage.

        • Dave Saturday, 27 July 2019, 1:17 pm

          The problems only became apparent when riders were already on the descent , that was very obvious at the time as well . I actually think the race organisation did all they could under the circumstances. I completely disagree that cancelling the stage completely is a better solution .

      • Anonymous Saturday, 27 July 2019, 1:58 pm

        “even as recently as 1988” – Larry, that is over 30 years ago. That’s ancient history in sporting years, it’s not recent.

    • Andrew McK Saturday, 27 July 2019, 8:43 am

      Just to make the point that the finish line for the GC is in Paris. For the race with a finish yesterday, the stage, the race jury did what you suggested and declared no result. For the race that didn’t have a finish yesterday, the better comparison is the decision that sometimes occurs to take the GC time from a point before the end of a stage for safety reasons

    • Anonymous Saturday, 27 July 2019, 8:49 am

      Augie March, I’ve been mulling this – like everyone else – for hours and got nowhere. I think you’ve nailed it here: ‘You can’t have a race if no one knows what the finish line is, and declaring an arbitrary finishing line AFTER many riders have crossed it is stupid in the extreme.’

      Essentially, this was a race where no-one knew where the finish line was because it was decided after they’d already crossed it.
      I think that’s more unfair than cancelling the stage.
      Yes, cancelling the stage would favour a different rider – JA – but although that would suck, it wouldn’t be as bad.

      Not sure if/how it would be logistically possible, but I’d rather see them – having annulled that stage – have another mountains stage on Sunday and declare that the winner will be at the end of that (and not go to Paris).

      • J Evans Saturday, 27 July 2019, 8:50 am

        Was me.

        • Augie March Saturday, 27 July 2019, 9:04 am

          Yes, it would be the least worst result, but instead they’ve gifted Bernal the yellow jersey, and unless he can put minutes into his rival up the final climb of the Tour today, to me this will be a win with an asterisk next to it like Andy Schleck’s 2010 victory*

          Perhaps the officials were paranoid about being seen as backing a Frenchman which would have been the result if the whole stage had been nullified. Again though, who knows, communication is not a skill many at this level possess as we’ve seen in the past.

          • J Evans Saturday, 27 July 2019, 9:16 am

            That’s why ideally – not that anything about this situation is ideal (annulling the stage is a terrible decision, but as you say, the least bad) – they’d have changed Sunday’s stage to a mountain stage.
            I’d have thought it wouldn’t be that hard to repeat Saturday’s stage on Sunday.
            At least that would give the riders over 60km of climbing to potentially drop JA (who would be the leader based on the standings after Stage 18).

          • Augie March Saturday, 27 July 2019, 9:33 am

            I like that option. The other one would be as a tribute to the legendary 1989 Tour de France (recently given much coverage on this very site) to dump the boring parade and turn stage 21 into a time trial to keep the race competitive.

          • Matt Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:43 am

            By that measure, the whole Tour needs to be annulled. If the argument is that riders did not know where the finish line was, and that therefor Bernal could have gone way too deep too early and blown up, JA descended like a demon again to catch them, and Alex Dowsett surprised them all with a late surge for the line in Tignes. The same must apply to the race for yellow. All the ‘GC’ riders were expecting the race to conclude with 2 days of severe climbing. Taking the effective race finish at Valloire (given they cancel yesterday and can’t race the proper stage today) means that the course is null and void. You can’t have one and not the other.

            I was, like everyone else, looking forward to a gripping climax to ‘the best Tour for 30 years’. Yes, it’s crappy, but the organisers are doing the best they can given the situation.

          • hoh Saturday, 27 July 2019, 11:38 am

            Matt, well put.

          • Anonymous Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:47 am

            Matt, it in no way means any of that.

          • hoh Saturday, 27 July 2019, 11:47 am

            Bernal doesn’t need to proof anything. He’s the one robbed a legendary win yesterday.

            Nullify the whole stage yesterday would be massively unfair. because that basically says all the Efforts riders made on the day didn’t matter and possibly gifted JA a win given today’s shortened stage that suits him better.

            Whilst others would have raced differently should they know where the finish, so would Bernal. If he knew that he didn’t need to do the descent and the final climb, he could have gone deeper and win with larger margin.

    • Chris_SK Saturday, 27 July 2019, 8:59 am

      Would ASO have enough balls to neutralize the GC completely and null the time gaps created on the road? Maybe the moral thing to do, but at same time, would really escalate those theories that they are pandering to the French, to ensure a French winner. Sure the riders most probably could have cracked Alaphilippe today, and the same gaps are likely today among the other favorites… but it would be unfair to those riders who went deep in their effort to create a difference on the Iseran.

      Bernal is clearly the strongest in the race. He deserves to win, having been given the chance to by the team. They could have forced him to tow G around the Alps this week, pretty refreshing to see the freedom he’s been given to show what he can do. Ineos strength in numbers, but then that’s the advantage of having 2 guys in contention entering this final weekend.

    • KevinR Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:31 am

      The problem is that there are winners and losers whatever the organisers chose to do. And everyone’s view of whether they made the right call or not is influenced by their allegiances. For instance, you think Froome/Porte shouldn’t have been treated as they were because ‘that’s racing’. My view is that the decision was correct because it wasn’t racing – it was an incident outside of the race impacting in it.

      • KevinR Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:49 am

        However, this is a hugely disappointing way to end the Tour and probably leaves supporters and riders alike dissatisfied. And while some of the options being put forward have theoretical merit, they just not realistic on a practical level. Unfortunately

        • The Inner Ring Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:51 am

          What else to do though? The Tour doesn’t take place in a velodrome or a stadium and crossing mountain ranges and being exposed to the elements is the essential part of cycling’s charm. Unfortunately this means the risk of road closures and this is a recurrent problem in the Alps, some roads are closed and reopened a lot because of this.

    • hoh Saturday, 27 July 2019, 11:55 am

      Oh, what reasons? Do you have the balls to spell it out?

      It sickens me to see armchairs insinuating about “reasons” just because things didn’t went their preferred way when riders rides their hearts out on the road.

      Reasons…

    • Sergio Saturday, 27 July 2019, 12:20 pm

      I disagree. Leaving things as they were at the end of the previous stage would ignore Bernal’s attack, Alaphillippe’s crack and, by the same logic, even Pinot should be able to start today if he was feeling better.

      And do you seriously believe the organizers got together, with an urgent problem and the riders’ safety at stake, and came up with a solution that would create a nice “narrative” with a Colombian win? That’s too much of a stretch.

      What we’ve seen on the road is reflected in the standings. THAT is the narrative.

      • Louis Saturday, 27 July 2019, 5:54 pm

        Exactly. This is the most sensible take on the situation I’ve read so far.

  • J Evans Saturday, 27 July 2019, 7:50 am

    Nothing that could be done, but the weather has largely decided this race – unless something bizarre happens. Such a disappointment.

    Also gutted for Pinot, of course. I feared for his fragility in this race, but this was desperately unlucky.

    If Bernal doesn’t want this to seem like a hollow victory he needs to ride and take time on the others tomorrow, but I suspect Ineos will ride to conserve his lead.

    Mind you, with the revised route it seems like it’ll be a hollow victory anyway. No offence to Bernal – and he might well have gained more time on Stage 19; no way of knowing – but this is not how you want to see any grand tour decided.

    Annulling the stage would be no better a solution, because it would be gifting a huge amount of time to JA.
    And, let’s face it, he would very probably have lost much more time on the climb to Tignes than he has now lost.

    Unfortunately, there is no satisfactory solution to this, there will always be ‘What ifs’ and we’ll never know what would have happened in the rest of the stage.
    Equally unfortunately, if Bernal wins, the feeling is always going to be there that he was gifted it (albeit by the weather).
    I feel for Bernal, because I think he’d probably have won the Tour anyway.

    What was potentially one of the best TdFs in decades is potentially going to have the worst possible denouement.

    • Dave Saturday, 27 July 2019, 1:21 pm

      No , you are wrong , if he wins it he wins it. The weather played it’s part as it has done before . There is no asterisk or anything like that , except in your head.

      • Anonymous Saturday, 27 July 2019, 2:09 pm

        And those of many others, whether you like it or not.

      • Anonymous Saturday, 27 July 2019, 2:09 pm

        It’s subjective: no-one’s ‘wrong’. Or right.

  • Richard S Saturday, 27 July 2019, 7:50 am

    It all does feel massively anti climactic. But to be honest I felt like that while Bernal was cresting the Iseran before we even knew of the freak hail storm. Alaphilippe isn’t going to win, Pinot isn’t even going to finish, Skyneos have won again even when at reduced strength and are about to blow a load of cash on strengthening their GT team. Why bother…?! Unless Alaphilippe pulls off some sort of superman stunt today I don’t see a challenge to Bernal. As good as Buchmann and Kruiswijk have been they are very much in the Quintana/Porte/Uran mould of recent Sky cannon fodder, I.e followers happy to hang on for 3rd/4th/5th/6th. Not that 57k gives them any room to do anything.
    I don’t feel that giving times at the top of the Iseran has falsified anything. Annulling the stage results and having to pretend we didn’t know Alaphilippe had cracked, and then him hanging on for a couple of hours today though fun would not have been any more satisfying from a sporting context.

  • Stuie Saturday, 27 July 2019, 7:51 am

    I believe it was the correct decision. To neutralise the whole stage would have been the most unfair outcome. Alaphilippe was suffering big time at that point and whatever time he gained back on the descent, he surely would have lost even more on the climb to Tignes. Its just a shame we didn’t get to see him fight all the way to the finish, the French public and media would have loved it. Kruijswijk and Buchmann will feel a bit hard done by, but I think the organisers have made the best decision. It’s never going to please everyone.
    Which brings me to today. I find it hard to believe that this is the best they could come up with for a final stage of the TdF. It’s just worsened the feeling of anticlimax. Hopefully I’m completely wrong and it’s an amazing free for all on Val Thorens.

  • Paul Saturday, 27 July 2019, 7:52 am

    Wow what a TDF nothing is straight forward an intriguing stage 19 with JA coming under his greatest pressure and still wanting to compete on the descent.

    And now a sprint for the line today! Is this the shortest TDF Road Stage ever?

  • RQS Saturday, 27 July 2019, 7:56 am

    All sport is drama. We can’t be guaranteed the authenticity of what we are seeing, so it is about being wrapped up in the moment.
    The organisers did the right thing in cancelling the stage. You can’t re-run the thing, and the riders have expended a lot of energy so it is unfair for their racing not to mean anything. It is unsatisfactory for all. Alaphilippe is rob of a chance to reduce his deficit. Bernal the opportunity to extend his lead, and Thomas the time to bridge to his team mate. And, the fans miss out too. But it can’t have been an easy decision to make. I think you have to consider the alternatives: no timing point in the valley, racing to a premature stop. I thought the whole thing was relatively uncontroversial, and a sensible delcision, especially after seeing the very real panic of the journalists that went to visit the landslide. The final times seemed likely to reflect the final anticipated positions of the riders as best they could. Probably most annoying for Ineos is that they didn’t get a stage win.
    Anyway so sad for Pinot.

    • KevinK Saturday, 27 July 2019, 9:07 am

      Well said.

      • Cassandra Saturday, 27 July 2019, 9:37 am

        @rqs

        +1

        For those who were saying ride on, I wonder if they have ever experienced on of these sudden hailstorms? We have gone through three of them in our time in France, they are truly terrifying. The hailstones can be as big as tennis balls, so you are being pelted with lumps of ice that size. A few years ago, aSwiss car dealership suffered wrecked cars which were on their forecourt during a similar event. They didn’t just have the odd little dent, some of them looked as if they had been attacked by heavy artillery. The missiles don’t melt instantly, of course, so you would be riding through a sort of shale, which would be liquifying as you passed. There is some exciting footage on Meteo France of a similar storm in Bordeaux.

        When you add the danger of a second landslide ( which of course has occurred yesterday and overnight in more than one place in the same area) you would be putting not just riders but officials and spectators in a life threatening scenario. Totally unacceptable.

        I don’t always find the race organisers above question, but in this case they have acted with exemplary promptness, and it is quite an achievement to rearrange an sort of stage for today under these circumstances.

        • RQS Saturday, 27 July 2019, 12:50 pm

          Exactement.

  • J Evans Saturday, 27 July 2019, 8:00 am

    It’s like watching a TV show for three series where you go through all the machinations and wait to find out who the murderer is and then they run out of money and don’t make the last show, but just tell you ‘It was that guy’.

    • Eddie C Saturday, 27 July 2019, 8:38 am

      That great analogy explains why I feel so deflated. (Tho loss of Pinot and crack of Alaphillipe felt like a deflation too).

    • PaulG Saturday, 27 July 2019, 8:50 am

      Coitus interruptus……!!!!

  • Digahole Saturday, 27 July 2019, 8:03 am

    What to say, what to do?

    The only fair solution is to annul the entire race ride the exact same route next year 😉

    • hoh Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:52 am

      OMG, Froome will be back.

  • Richard S Saturday, 27 July 2019, 8:10 am

    What I found quite funny was that out of all the riders Uran seemed to be the most aggrieved. He’s never attacked ever before but yesterday he was going to drop all of them, it was his big day. At least that’s how he tells it.

    • Kevin Saturday, 27 July 2019, 9:10 am

      I took Uran’s reaction to be the result of him flashing back to 2014 on the Stelvio when he lost the Giro under similar circumstances… hard to say though, heat of the moment and all that.

    • JeroenK Saturday, 27 July 2019, 9:28 am

      Uran gave me the impression he simply did not understand what was going on at all, which is sort of understandable in the confusion of a neutralized race and language barriers.

      • Larry T Saturday, 27 July 2019, 9:40 am

        I will remind the next person who tells me the riders need radio earpieces “for safety” about this fiasco. Until Prudhomme showed up in the car to tell them, none of the riders seemed to have a clue as to what was going on. I still believe the decision was made BEFORE the race arrived at the summit of the Iseran and everyone should have been informed so they could race to the top accordingly. If that was not possible the entire stage should have been annulled. Today’s shorter stage is more understandable, but just as disappointing – a sad way to end what had been an exciting race 🙁

        • J Evans Saturday, 27 July 2019, 9:48 am

          ‘I still believe the decision was made BEFORE the race arrived at the summit of the Iseran’ – based on what evidence?
          And why would Prudhomme have waited such a long time to make his decision known – what advantage was there in doing that?

          • Nick Saturday, 27 July 2019, 12:03 pm

            Based on the fact that he would rather Sky/Ineos didn’t win, and this decision confirms that they will. It is therefore a bad decision.

        • JeroenK Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:15 am

          Larry, you live in a fantasy world or you are just trolling. ‘Believe’? Based on what?

          You cannot rely on earpieces for safety or communicating race alterations. With a neutralization, it’s quite simple: The race director drives to the lead rider and halts everyone. With communicating an alternate finish, you have to communicate to all the riders equally, or it’s unfair. That takes time. Then you have to have some road left to have a race to the alternate finish on. That also takes time. Is your world too simple to consider these complexities?

        • plurien Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:20 am

          Chapeau to Prudhomme for being right there at the very moment the riders needed reassurance on what they were hearing as speculation from their team cars. He then made himself available first to the riders when others might turn to the media, the race support crew, road authorities, le bon Dieu or whatever…
          ASO must have such a fantastic tier of delegation and liasons with all the authorities and contractors – on every stage. Within minutes of the stop at Val d-Isere they had a hall opened up to the riders. There was a whole operation of snowploughs and loaders going in a frantic effort to get the road to a usable state – That plant must have been on standby right there.

          • JeroenK Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:30 am

            +1 to Plurien. Yeah, it’s easy to misjudge calls like this if you do not grasp the complexity of organising a Tour stages on these roads. They clearly have a very short line with local authorities along the race route.

          • RQS Sunday, 28 July 2019, 12:29 am

            +1 Plurien
            The lack of appreciation for the sort of pressure that Prudhomme must have been under from some of the comments is astounding by those that seem to think they have some deeper understanding of the sport. It staggers me. Especially when you have Larry, a tour organiser himself, not seeming to appreciate the difficulties faced by ASO (to the extent that he thinks they fixed the result, rather than reacting in the moment, which is surely what they must have done).
            As Plurien says dealing with all the parameters and logistics in the way they did is a credit to the organisation. Should France need to organise an invasion they should definitely speak to Prudhomme on logistics. The Tour is effectively a rolling army that runs more or less like clock work. From the caravan, the start points, finish lines, media, the racing and everything in between (including the team buses travelling to the finish before the riders themselves); its an immense beast.

        • Larrick Saturday, 27 July 2019, 11:18 am

          Wiggins went through on his moto past the mud slide which was just before the final climb and all was clear. He was on his way to the finish for his tv spot. That was about half an hour before the race was stopped so at that stage they were 3/4 of the way up the climb. The issue at best became apparent only a few k before the summit but more likely even closer to the top.

        • Anonymous Saturday, 27 July 2019, 12:15 pm

          Every team car got the message in English and French. It’s very clear – we’ve all heard it by now. Then they pass the message on. Hardly a reason to denigrate race radio with some bizarre conspiracy theory.

        • Dave Saturday, 27 July 2019, 1:26 pm

          Believe whatever you want to believe Larry if it makes you feel better. Did you actually watch the stage live on TV and see it unfolding ? They were on the descent before anybody knew there was a problem

  • Anonymous Saturday, 27 July 2019, 8:12 am

    I guess the problem with making the last 3 days so challenging is that everything that came before quickly starts to seem insignificant. It’s like a 17 day prologue and Giro ’18 felt similar, with Alaphilippe playing the role of Simon Yates (and Pinot sadly finishing on a similar note). Bernal’s TT suggests he entered the race not flying which may have been pre-planned or may have been an inevitable consequence of initially aiming for the Giro, in any case the route meant it just didn’t matter.

    Today should mark the birth of a new era and Simon Yates will one day be able to tell his grandkids about that time he almost followed Egan Bernal over the Iseran on that stage in the ’19 Tour.

    PS This extreme Alps weather has been signposted for several days. It was the highest pass in the Alps and the teams and organisers surely knew the dangers.

    Hopefully today will be a great day for Colombian cycling, it’s been a really enjoyable tour with lots of riders and teams playing a big part so, whatever happens today, let’s not all start complaining again.

  • jc Saturday, 27 July 2019, 8:18 am

    In the end it is all rather disappointing, I suppose we could get some late drama today, Egan Bernal suffers a mechanical at the wrong moment and has to try to chase back to defend the jersey but that is pretty unlikely.

    Thibaut Pinot abandoning was pretty gut wrenching, in hindsight it is clear he was not right on the Galibier but was able to put in one last effort but that aggravated the muscle injury beyond the point where he could ride. Maybe he will be back, cyclists are a tough breed, but given all his history I am not so sure.

    Easy to sit at a keyboard and say “they” could have done this or that but in the moment it was the only sensible and practical decision. It was not like Milan San Remo where the organisers could collect all the riders a long way from the finish and bus them around the obstacles, there was a real risk to the riders hitting of ice on the road.

    What was shaping up to be a memorable Tour will know be remembered for rather different reasons.

    • Bern Saturday, 27 July 2019, 12:56 pm

      Still plenty memorable tho…

  • brent sword Saturday, 27 July 2019, 8:18 am

    I am going to give simon yates 2 chainrings and bernal one because he can win from a breakaway and from the main group. I think there is a good chance if ineos shut things down a good climber nearly at the level of the top 5 will get away and be given enough rope to win the stage as all the others look at themselves so i won’t give anybody else more than 1 chainring. Think Yates, Yates, Quintana, Uran, Porte etc. Even the really good domestiques.
    I hope jumbo visma and bora smash the bottom steeper sections super hard just to see if they can drop both ineos riders. Unlikely but possible. Bernal may be more tired after 3 weeks then we think and Thomas has not really looked 100% of last years level. If the ineos riders don’t get dropped early the other teams will start defending and a breakaway from someone down on GC becomes likely.
    Some of the ineos riders have been all but invisible so they must be really happy about the shortened stage.

    Most likely winners from yesterdays unfortunate turn of events were
    Alaphilippe, Because he would have likely lost 5 minutes or more on his own. He was not even making much headway on the downhill only catching up a few seconds in the 10 odd km they road downhill.

    Bernal, because this basically gifted the overall to him unless he implodes today. The followers would have been closer if the finish line was known as they would not have hung back behind the domestique so long. We will never know if Bernal could have gone all the way until the finish line with others saving themselves until the final climb using the domestique.

    Biggest likely losers.
    Yates. If he sat on a 3rd stage win beckoned. Maybe bernal has a faster surge but after sitting on for the valley and the climb I think yates looked good even if the others caught up.
    Buchmann, Kruijswijk, Thomas. Because they never got a chance to see.
    I personally think they would have caught up the gap at least in part or totally because Bernal was going 100% and they were going hard but not 100%.
    For all the suggestion that ASO have made this route to combat froome it has simply suited a different ineos rider. Especially with the unfortunate races changes.

    • Charles Saturday, 27 July 2019, 8:43 am

      Totally agree. I think Ineos planned for Thomas to be towed back to Bernal where he could counter, overhaul Bernal’s 5 sec advantage and leave Thomas and then Bernal I’m commanding positions. I think this is what they wanted for the previous stage too but left it too late.

      • PaulG Saturday, 27 July 2019, 8:53 am

        ….Alaphilippe would have closed the gap on the descent, recovered, attacked the final climb as if it was the Poggio….and taken 6 seconds on everyone else……!!!!

        • Charles Saturday, 27 July 2019, 8:55 am

          You’ve had a few too many sugars in your espresso this morning.

      • KevinR Saturday, 27 July 2019, 11:05 am

        I reckon that could well be right. Only problem is I don’t think Thomas quite has the legs of last year.

    • Chris_SK Saturday, 27 July 2019, 9:05 am

      Watch Kwiatko, who has been anonymous for 2 weeks, randomly find something to shut today down and make it a 1-2km uphill sprint for those still interested. Total anti climax.

    • Anonymous Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:13 am

      It was pointed out many times before, but as this nonsense never dies, I point it out again: The Tour de France route is NOT decided on the form of a rider. Right now the route for next year is already in the finishing touches with the mayors signing the last contracts – and this years‘s race hasen‘t even finished!

      Do you know how much organisation goes into the Tour de France? Towns/villages have to know long in advance, years in advance in some cases, that they get a start/finish in order to get the funds, push it through politically etc.. Then the Tour can only go where a travelling caravan of a few thousand people can be accommodated. They can only use roads, which are good enough, wide enough for the whole caravan. And so forth.

      ASO surely has the routes for the next 4 or 5 Tours already roughly finished and is working on realizing it. Yes, they can tweak a few things like the TT- kilometres, but that is all (and even here, I bet it are mostly the bad tv ratings, that speak against TTs. And aside from everything: If a 3 week race is decided by one stage – the TT stage- something is seriously, seriously wrong in the sport, like we could often see, when the reality behind certain wins was shown). And then there come people saying: french rider y was good in this year’s race – of course they will make a race for him now. Or: They engineered a race so ryder x will not win! Maybe, just maybe their desire is to have an exciting race and not work against a certain rider?

      All that these people do, is showing their own bias, their own motives. Because we always presume what other people’s motives are according to what we think normal/plausible. These people can‘t imagine, that others have integrity, a sense of honor and don‘t act out of selfishness, because they have none. This btw is the usual modus operandi of populism and of alt right: Always thinking the worst, the lowest of all people, so that you in the end use up all your focus and energy in defending against their imaginations. And through spending all your energy on something, that is not real, the real world can get attacked and the whole discourse is poisoned until everybody always thinks the worst about anybody. All these „suggestions“ against ASO do is destroying the trust in the race, sucking the joy and innocence out of the race and step by step, such „suggestions“ poison every interaction with others.

      Why not have and show some respect towards other people and not think, that they always act in the most selfish way possible? We might be surprised how often that happens.

      • HodH Saturday, 27 July 2019, 12:17 pm

        Great comment

      • brent sword Saturday, 27 July 2019, 12:48 pm

        My bad – I was to subtle (although it was fairly obvious). My comment about ASO choosing to suit other teams was slightly sarcastic aimed at conspiracy theorists. Although the nature of the tour route has changed drastically over the years to combat the rise of the people who are great TT and climbers. Not just an attack on froome / ineos but to attempt to keep some balance between climbers and TT all rounders is how I read it.

      • Cassandra Saturday, 27 July 2019, 11:34 pm

        Oh I so agree.

        We have seen so many great performances in this Tour, I am bold enough to say, performances that make one ( on) , proud of the human spirit: Alaphilippe discovering a new potential and nearly fulfilling it , Yates, Nibali , Bardet, (even) Quintana showing how a champion doesn’t give up… Thomas de Ghent , ( William Marshall would know him) well, say no more. Bernal, look at his back story, and be pleased for his success.Geraint Thomas, giving the kid who has beaten you a hug……

        So, the weather Gods played their part, maybe our protected selves, rashly and wrongly. don’t expect them to intervene. But it was ever such, and the organisers did their best, and I think did well.

        Thank you to this website’s host, and thank you to the posters:: insightful, biased, grumpy, sensible, historically awesome, sometimes just plain bonkers. you have given me a great three weeks when I really needed it.

        Xxxx

  • ErnieC Saturday, 27 July 2019, 8:26 am

    If bernal wins, will that make him one of the youngest TdF winners?

  • Charles Saturday, 27 July 2019, 8:40 am

    A hugely disappointing end to what could have been a classic TdF. JA gains the most as he’s still in 2nd when he’d surely have cracked massively on the climb to Tignes. Plus he now has a realistic chance to defend that position with today’s stage so reduced in distance and difficulty. Can Bora and Visma crack JA? They will try for sure while. Thomas must be fuming. He can’t attack and simply has to follow wheels. I think Bernal, Thomas and Buchmann on the podium. With Bernal only 22 how many TdFs can he win? And will he be allowed back to defend next year? Froome’s accident looks more and more costly.

    • Larry T Saturday, 27 July 2019, 9:29 am

      “With Bernal only 22 how many TdFs can he win?” reminds me of similar things said about the 1997 winner, who I think was a mere 23 when he won?

      • Augie March Saturday, 27 July 2019, 9:32 am

        Phil and Paul fell over themselves in 2013 proclaiming Quintana The Greatest Climber in the World (even though there was also this Froome guy in the race who out-climbed Quintana on every stage bar one) and asked how many TDFs he would win, so hype is not the same as foresight.

      • Richard S Saturday, 27 July 2019, 9:36 am

        I was thinking the same. I can’t see Bernal going mental at Oktoberfest and turning up to Paris-Nice weighing 85 kilos though. Bernal might win 10 Tours, but he’ll never be as cool as Big Jan.

      • Ronytominger Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:12 am

        Ulle was 23 and sent germany into immediate frenzy. Yet as nobody knew at the time, he already reached rhe high-point of his career with this win. 2nd places and lots of strange stories were ro follow.

      • MCH Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:50 pm

        Perhaps worth noting that this year’s TdF had very few kilometres of ITT and Bernal lost significant time on what there was. It seems very likely that there will be significantly more ITT in the 2020 tour.
        No doubt Ineos will be working with Bernal to improve his time trialing for 2020, but it is far from a given that he will be able to.

  • Whaleoilbeefhooked Saturday, 27 July 2019, 8:53 am

    If anything the whole episode shows leaving your challenge for the yellow jersey until the last possible moment is always a risky affair.

    Nobody really knows what the final outcome of a full stage 19 would have been. On the evidence of all previous mountain battles this Tour I suspect Bernal would have continued to gain time. If the JV guys and Buchmann had the legs they wouldn’t have let Bernal get so much time when he did.

  • Stuie Saturday, 27 July 2019, 9:32 am

    It was shaping up to be a great battle for the KOM Jersey too. Its all gone a bit flat.

    • J Evans Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:09 am

      At least there’s more chance of that reaching a satisfying conclusion. A lot of different riders could do it:
      Mountains Classification
      # Rider Name (Country) Team Result
      1 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 86 pts
      2 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 74
      3 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 67
      4 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 59
      5 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Ineos 58
      6 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 58
      7 Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team 45
      8 Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma 40
      9 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Lotto Soudal 38
      10 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 33

      The Lantern Rouge is still a battle – Langeveld or Offredo?

      Movistar will be happy – the all-important team classification is sewn up.

  • BC Saturday, 27 July 2019, 9:35 am

    Not the finish yesterday that anyone would have wanted.
    Best remember a race is decided by the course, weather and riders – in no particular order. Yesterday the weather made the ultimate call. ASOs decision was probably the only option possible given the circumstances.

    • Dave Saturday, 27 July 2019, 1:32 pm

      ASO are far from perfect but what else could they do ? I’d be interested if any riders actually agreed with the idea of cancelling the whole stage and leaving JA in yellow .

  • plurien Saturday, 27 July 2019, 9:56 am

    Laurent Jalabert referenced the Tour turning to vinegar for the French public – JA out of yellow, Bardet out of polka-dot and Pinot just out – but he said it’s a bigger event and the organisers made the right decision that could never be ideal. He also pointed out that JA limited the damage by not having the final climb.

    JA can go again but he will have Bernal and all Skineos on his case. Could be a boring procession for podium-holding teams so let’s hope Barguil, Vuillermoz, Ladagnous (& Kung), Laporte can bring on some redemption.
    Uran, Caruso, Yates, Yates and more have a lot to prove and nothing to lose.
    But yeah, I’m hoping it will be a smash-fest with nothing under control of the podium teams. Wind direction could be a big help/hindrance to that.

    • me again Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:08 am

      Wait. I thought Bardet was out of Polka-dot. He isn’t!
      Today’s climb is HC with 40 points which puts Wellens, Caruso and Quintana in reach of his 86 point tally. This puts a new slant on today’s proceedings.
      I still don’t understand why Bardet doesn’t make the jersey his thing every July.

      • Martin Saturday, 27 July 2019, 11:11 am

        The most likely winner of the KOM jersey is Bernal.

      • J Evans Saturday, 27 July 2019, 11:15 am

        All of these people can win it:
        1 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 86 pts
        2 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal 74
        3 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 67
        4 Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott 59
        5 Egan Bernal (Col) Team Ineos 58
        6 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team 58
        Most likely winner might well be Bernal, but Bardet, Yates, (Quintana if he’s on a good day) might well go earlier than Bernal is willing to. So, they attack and race it whilst he sits behind his train?

        • Ecky Thump Saturday, 27 July 2019, 12:49 pm

          The KoM competition was unsatisfactory before the stoppage yesterday but even more so with the shortened stage today.
          How can Bardet winning the polkas be a worthy reflection of the race?

          • JeroenK Saturday, 27 July 2019, 2:17 pm

            You are echoing a certain L. Armstrong who said the same thing, even suggesting they should use climbing times to crown the true ‘best climber’, not a breakaway specialist.

            I must say I like the idea.

          • The Inner Ring Saturday, 27 July 2019, 2:39 pm

            A climbing time competition could be won by someone drafting cars in the convoy and nobody would see them at the front of the race, it wouldn’t be much better.

          • JeroenK Saturday, 27 July 2019, 11:04 pm

            Somewhere above this reaction DaveRides paints a picture of a much more modernised Tour as far as technology is concerned. If you know where everybody is and where the cars are, you could have rules like f.e. you only get awarded climbing points if you are in front of the cars that trail your group (or maybe in front of any car to rule out any abuse).

  • Frank Delatorre Saturday, 27 July 2019, 9:57 am

    nerdy note: I think that is a sampling rather than confirmation bias.

    Where would the intermediate sprint be?

    • DaveRides Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:38 am

      Race organisation has confirmed there will not be one.

  • Foley Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:00 am

    In 1989 even many of us who were happy to see LeMond win had misgivings about the idea that his equipment had provided the margin of victory. But win he did. That Tour was fascinating for much more than the controversial late stage, and the same is true of this one. It seems no one wants to watch a predictable Tour, but dammit someone should do something about the weather!

  • Anonymous Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:10 am

    Just thinking ahead to next year, and Dave Brailsfords next leadership selection headache… Has any team ever gone to the tour with 3 previous winners on the roster?

    • Greasy Wheel Saturday, 27 July 2019, 11:38 am

      And they’ll have Carapaz! Dear me – what a strong team. Is Froome going to the Vuelta? Could easily have all 3 GT winners in their line up for next year.

      I’m sensing our best chance of excitement next year might come from the direct battle between Jumbo (Dumoulin, Roglic, Kruijswijk) and Ineos rather than the free for all of this year.

      Poor Pinot. A unique opportunity gone.

  • Larrick Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:17 am

    Augie – It might be an “arbitrary finishing line AFTER many riders have crossed it” but IF the sprint point had been 15 k down the descent they could have called that the finish line BEFORE any riders crossed it and the gaps would have been similar.

    Like with Rowe & TMart and Ala’s swanny’s push, there’s no conspiracy, just a whole lot of pieces of information to be taken into consideration and a decision required. Whatever they did would be detrimental to someone and in this case, those that lost the most were those that weren’t attacking nor falling backwards. That sort of seems fair to me.

    You mention the world cup and that’s another emotional set of circumstances. Maybe people should realise how much emotional thinking they’re doing and how much logical thinking the officials are doing following the regulations. That way they might make more sense. I think Trump does enough emotional thinking to make up for the rest of us btw…

    • hoh Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:47 am

      Agree.

      People proposing nullifying whole stage should ask yourself, deep in your heart, what are you motivated by.

      Is it really “fair racing” or actually “I don’t want to see another Sky/Ineos” Tour winner? Would you propose the same should the rider stand to benefit was actually say … Pinot? Would you still think nullify the whole stage is fair?

      Really try imagine the scenario, put your emotions in, not just do a “logical” call.

      You can make all sorts of arguments for either side of any situation depending where you stand. 90% of the time the arguments weren’t what convinced you. You took a stand long before you considered any of them, and they are there to justify your decision. That is just our sorry human nature.

      The one who is really short charged yesterday was Bernal. He was on course to a legendary win and now that’s taken away from him and he’d need need to endure this nonsense of “gifted the stage”.

      Alaphilppe is probably gifted a podium, and he knows it. SK can’t overhaul Bernal and he knows it as well. It looks like his Beef was more against Not able to overhaul Alaphilppe or Thomas.

      And finally all DSs, people who has a skin in this, thought it was the best solution.

      • Baroudeur Billy Saturday, 27 July 2019, 5:59 pm

        I just think it’s fairest for everyone to know where the finish line is. That was not the case yesterday until it was too late (for everyone but Bernal) and I think that’s problematic. It’s not an issue to me of who benefits and who doesn’t – Bernal may well have gone on to win the Tour regardless, given the form he’s in – that decision just doesn’t sit that well with me.

      • STS Saturday, 27 July 2019, 11:18 pm

        Yes, my motivation for considering the only correct option is the nullifying of the stage, are:
        – fairness (it’s only a bike race when everyone knows where the finish line is. And that’s especially true in the mountains)
        – dependable rules.
        – no discussions, no bullshit and certainly no “emotions” (you must be kidding, right?) influencing such a decision.

        • Anonymous Saturday, 27 July 2019, 11:35 pm

          Well said. Patronising as f to disregard others’ opinions as “emotions”.

        • Anonymous Sunday, 28 July 2019, 3:36 am

          – “Fairness” isn’t a logical concept, it’s an emotional one.
          – There are rules and the regulations were used.

          And to anon below. No one is disregarding opinions as emotions. I don’t read what’s been written in that way. It’s about constructing an argument based on fact not opinion and using rational thought. You prove the point as does STS. You see it as patronising. That’s your emotional response. STS doesn’t give a single reason in all of that other than he thinks it’s not a bike race if the finish line changes. That’s not a factual thing. He says they need “dependable rules”. They were using the regulations as they saw fit.

          You both might be better off understanding the difference between rational and emotional thinking before feeling like you’re being disregarded or patronised because no one should ignore what you think. What you think is fair, in the example STS used, is a valid opinion. People can disagree or agree. What it isn’t though is a rational argument to prove that the stage should have been fully neutralised. That’s the difference.

          • Anonymous Sunday, 28 July 2019, 8:09 am

            The arguments for cancelling the stage are just as logical as those for making the 2nd last mountain the finishing line.
            The reasoning is written – by many – elsewhere on this page.
            One can agree or disagree.
            Attempting to denigrate those points rather than discussing/arguing against them seems like the much more emotional response.

        • Anonymous Sunday, 28 July 2019, 7:59 am

          BS

  • Carlton Flyer Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:46 am

    Maybe in view of the shortened stages yesterday and today the traditional GC truce in Paris should be abandoned tomorrow.

  • Digahole Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:53 am

    More than yesterday’s weather drama I think it’s Pinot’s abandon that’s robbed the race of an exciting finish. He and Bernal were clearly the two strongest climbers and it would have superb to see them smashing each other today and yesterday, shortened stages or not. Don’t think there would have been too many GC changes otherwise

  • Megi Saturday, 27 July 2019, 11:05 am

    Remember Kittel’s comment on the 2013 (1st stage) finish line, the last time the TdF changed the finish line midrace?
    Half the riders didn’t know about it and continued racing for the original finish line while the rest raced for the new one.
    Then, once the team bus had been detached from the finish gantry the organisers changed their mind.
    On hearing the finish would be at the finish line the eventual winner, Kittel, asked his team car: “Where the … else would it be?”
    Yesterday the TdF was lucky in that there was a timing point close to the stop point that they could use and after all, the overall GC winner is the one who completes the course AS RIDDEN not as planned, in the shortest time. ASO were right all the way yesterday . Good to see no-one was OTLed.

  • Vegar E Saturday, 27 July 2019, 11:05 am

    Its bad for the race but the obly right thing to do was to stop the race.
    Former pro cyclist and tdf stage winner Dag Otto Lauritzen encountered this landslide only 10min before the leaders was going to pass..

    https://www.tv2.no/v/1478211/

  • Kavan Saturday, 27 July 2019, 11:30 am

    Can Sebastian Langeveld manage to lose four seconds to gain the Laterne Rouge?

    • Steve Sunday, 28 July 2019, 2:06 am

      Yes! He did!

  • glyn whiting Saturday, 27 July 2019, 12:14 pm

    I’ve been , like everyone, picking the situation apart since yesterday. And, like everyone, can’t come to a satisfactory result. I’ve read most of the comments, and many have merit. Certainly a race car situated in advance of the riders with coloured lights and signage in these high mountains would give some comfort to the riders. It might be wise, in future, not to have the highest stage 2 days before Paris. If this had happened last week there would have been time for things to even out. What makes it so unsatisfactory is there is very limited time to change the result.

  • andysho Saturday, 27 July 2019, 12:32 pm

    Hi, never posted here, but I have been following this blog and discussion for some years now. I feel this is the right forum to share my musings on yesterdays neutralization of the stage and decision on where to take GC times.

    My initial reaction was that’s it makes no sense to take the times at the top of d’Iseran if the riders did not know about it beforehand. Maybe Alaphilippe would dig deeper, limit his losses and have one more day in yellow, maybe Bernal would attack sooner and be at the top with 5 minutes advantage. Or some completely different scenario. We would never know, because the riders did not get the chance to make those decisions. Clearly the race can not be legitimate if the finish line is arbitrarily set ex-post. The only decision preserving the integrity of competition would be to cancel the stage. No one reached the finish, no results. Some would be hurt, some would profit, but that’s life and mountain weather.

    But that makes sense only if TDF is just “a” parcours, an arbitrary place where competition happens and we want to see the competition to play out as fairly as possible and we do not really care about extraneous factors.

    On the other hand, one can also think of “Le Tour” as an institution, with its own agenda, mythology, culture, where competition is just a way to make the ride more interesting. Basically, and very simplistic, the point is to get the whole caravan round the France, and – by the way – see who can cover the distance in the shortest time. The ride may be shorter, if the road is impassable, or longer, if there is a detour. We do not really care how the riders race, the important thing is that they ride. Than it would make sense to take times wherever the race stops, or as close to that point as possible. Some would be hurt, some would profit, but that’s Le Tour. The stage still happened, there was a podium presentation, Iseran has one more story added to its mythology. The ride goes on.

    I am still torn and think I would prefer the stage cancelled altogether, but maybe it ultimately is about riding through France?

    • brent sword Saturday, 27 July 2019, 12:58 pm

      Think of this as a car race which is under a pace car and then gets cancelled due to severe weather or runs all the way to the finish under the pace car. At least here in Australia once a certain proportion of the race is completed the race can be called this way and all the race plans are thrown out of the window.
      Anybody who had the wrong tyre / fuel stop plan has lost but the race is still completed favouring some and not favouring others.

    • Anonymous Saturday, 27 July 2019, 6:55 pm

      Very interesting idea. Thanks a lot for posting it! I feel like a plant, that just got watered! Would have never expected a comment like this here. Thank you!

  • Anonymous Saturday, 27 July 2019, 1:04 pm

    Replying to their two comments above Larrick and hoh:

    There is no conspiracy and no-one is suggesting there is, as far as I can see. Certainly, no-one sensible.

    I don’t believe my biases (I would like to see a non-Ineos rider win, but most of all I want to see an exciting contest and that’s much more important to me) are influencing my opinion overly – this is proved by my very first post on this page saying that annulling the race would be no better.

    My mind was changed by Augie March’s point.
    To put it even more simply:
    Imagine you are in a 10km race.
    At 8km you are told, the finish line was at 7km.

    That is less fair than annulling the race, because the result produced is completely false. Better no result than a false result.

    JA thus benefitting would be extremely unfortunate and if he went on to win it would be deeply unsatisfactory. (Certainly, that’s what I think and I would love him to win.)

    As I’ve said above, I think the best way to counter that unfairness would be to repeat today’s stage tomorrow, thus providing others with ample opportunity to beat JA. (We don’t need Paris – it’s not as important as finding a true winner.) Even under today’s ruling, it would be better if they did this (it can’t be that hard to arrange).
    Also, would it be feasible to run the stage twice today? It’s short and they’ve had split stages in the past.

    As it is, Bernal has been virtually guaranteed the win when perhaps others would have overtaken him had we had the original ending. (Personally, I think he’d have taken more time – especially as he had Yates with him – but that’s entirely by the by.)

    I think this is the most logical call and, yes, regardless of who was involved this is what I would want to see happen (even if the end result was Moscon winning).

    Overall, JA (my favoured rider) has probably benefitted by not losing more time. Bernal (I’ve nothing against him, but don’t want Ineos to win) is one of the big losers, because the victory will forever have an asterisk next to it for many (no matter what others might think). And he might well have taken more time and had a glorious victory.
    Buchmann, Kruijswijk and Thomas have been robbed of knowing what they could actually have done.
    All of this is – in my view – a worse scenario than what would be the case under an annulment: i.e. only JA would have benefitted. And he could still have been beaten.

    – J Evans

    • Larrick Saturday, 27 July 2019, 1:27 pm

      On your analogy, if you change that to something more similar, a series of 10k races, during the 19 10k race at the 8k mark you’re told this race doesn’t count at all. Isn’t that just a variation on the theme of “the result produced is completely false”? Isn’t counting, in this example, 180k out of 190k, more false than counting 187k out of 190k?

      As for re-running the stage, aren’t you then changing the race anyway? In this case from less accumulated fatigue than was planned to more?

      Once nature intervened, what would have been was never going to happen and nothing that anyone could do can recreate that.

      If Bernal rides away from everyone today he won’t be thought of as having an asterisk next to his win. In fact, it will be a quite niche part of the audience that is even aware about this in 30 years time.

      I think that it matters so much to some shows that there’s emotion at work. I’d put money on it that the riders are less worried about it in a weeks time than some posters. I look at it as though everyone got caught up in a crash not of their own making. Something that happens in every race and has an effect on every result. It’s often forgotten and as Inrng often points out, cycling fans have a habit of looking forward quick smart. The Vuelta will be on more peoples thoughts by this time in a fortnight than the Tour is.

      • J Evans Saturday, 27 July 2019, 2:18 pm

        My/Augie’s suggestion would produce an unfair result. But I personally think that it would be a slightly less unfair result than what we have.
        ‘Emotion’ has nothing to do with it. I have given my reasons.
        You have given yours and they seem perfectly reasonable. I disagree, but I don’t put that down to your ’emotions’.

        • Larrick Saturday, 27 July 2019, 2:31 pm

          I’m interested to know why you think it would be “a slightly less unfair result” to have even less chance to make a difference on a mountain stage? The sort of stage that gives us the winner of the race.

    • Dave Saturday, 27 July 2019, 1:40 pm

      You don’t want INEOS to win is the most important part of your huge post.

      • J Evans Saturday, 27 July 2019, 2:14 pm

        Dave:
        No, it’s not.
        I think what I wrote, not what you tell me I’m thinking.

  • DJW Saturday, 27 July 2019, 1:24 pm

    and now serious speculation, with storms at the finish line, that today’s stage will be cancelled. 59km does not allow for much in the way of tactics but better than nothing.

    • J Evans Saturday, 27 July 2019, 2:22 pm

      If that does happen it’ll certainly make yesterday’s decision the correct one. And people like me will have to get back in their box.

  • Ken Saturday, 27 July 2019, 1:54 pm

    I agree the racing had to be stopped. I just wish the organizers/commissioners had planned ahead. It’s not like the high alps are an indoor track; even Hannibal faced blocked roads. The rules in the event of a stoppage should have been clear ahead of time, perhaps even more timing points installed. Maybe some of the more prepared teams (guess who?) thought of this eventuality and stormed the penultimate climb just in case.

  • Richard S Saturday, 27 July 2019, 4:44 pm

    Kruiswijk and Buchmann within a few seconds of Thomas and not once did they even think of attacking. Thank god for Alaphilippe or this Tour would’ve followed the script of all of the others post 2012. JV setting a fast pace as if Ineos have never thought of that. They would’ve been better off backing Bennett and De Plus into the pack to slow it down.

    • Greasy Wheel Saturday, 27 July 2019, 5:26 pm

      Kruisjwijk didn’t have the legs, did he, in the end? Got dropped meaningfully.

      “Thank god for Alaphilippe”… yes, but what about Pinot? Let’s not forget he also joined JA on one of the non-mountainous days in attacking, strolled the Tourmalet, attacked multiple times the next day to distance Bernal before he got the injury on the stage to Gap. The anti-climax is also about his absence, as well as the freak landslide action.

      Problem for JA is he can’t sashay off the bunch in future years without losing 10 minutes first!

    • Bern Saturday, 27 July 2019, 6:19 pm

      “Thank god for Alaphilippe”

      This.

  • Nick Saturday, 27 July 2019, 4:57 pm

    As it happens, Bernal finishes just ahead of Thomas today, both slightly further ahead of Kruiswijk, with Alaphilippe cracking again. So we have the same results irrespective of whether yesterday had been cancelled or not.

    • Baroudeur Billy Saturday, 27 July 2019, 6:11 pm

      Alaphilippe almost certainly wasn’t going to win, that’s clear. But if yesterday’s stage had been cancelled, Bernal would have gone into today only 5 seconds ahead of Thomas and 17 on Kruijswijk and it’s possible today unfolds differently. I don’t think Thomas becomes a trusty lieutenant when he’s only five seconds off, for starters.

      • MCH Saturday, 27 July 2019, 11:10 pm

        Ineos are a very disciplined team and I don’t think that they would have risked the overall by allowing Bernal and Thomas to freelance.
        In the hypothetical that S19 had been discarded the standings (excluding JA) would have been:
        1. Bernal
        2. Thomas +5
        3. Kruijswijk +17
        4. Buchmann +44
        Based on what they have done in the past I think that we can assume that initially S20 would have panned out as it actually did. Ineos happy to let the break go, with other teams keeping the gap manageable in order to keep the option of going for the win. From the bottom of the climb Ineos would have would have ridden hard to break JA. Once that had happened they would have maintained the pace to discourage attacks from Kruijswijk and Buchmann leaving it for other teams to chase the breakaway if they were interested in the stage win. I think that if necessary (other Ineos domestiques gone) Thomas would have ridden for Bernal.
        It is just about feasible that they would have allowed Thomas and Bernal to race one another for the last couple of km.

  • Noel Saturday, 27 July 2019, 6:45 pm

    So one good thing can come out of this…

    From now the ASO should make it clear that timings will be taken on the major summits, and these will act as finishing times in the event of a similar situation. This might negate the tactic of all chugging along waiting for the final climb and promote more riders to attempt the Hail Mary ride that we all want to see..

    • J Evans Saturday, 27 July 2019, 10:58 pm

      Very good point.

    • Charles Sunday, 28 July 2019, 12:25 am

      This wouldn’t change anything as a stage cancellation is so rare.

      But… if you had multiple potential finishes within the stage and randomly spun the wheel every hour to decide if the stage was going to continue 🙂

  • Anonymous Saturday, 27 July 2019, 7:52 pm

    battle of the keyboard warriors!!

  • Spectator Saturday, 27 July 2019, 9:28 pm

    Am I alone in thinking that the climax to this year’s Tour has been wonderful ? (I use ‘wonderful’ in its original sense, meaning full of wonder). The sporting dramas, the personal tragedies and to top it all, an Act of God. Disappointed? No, I was enthralled.

  • Stoneglider Saturday, 27 July 2019, 11:47 pm

    Once again, many thanks INRG for a haven of insight and explanation for this edition of the TdF. That events overwhelmed human endeavour in these last two stages stand as a testamont to the nature of sporting efforts.
    This has been a wonderful edition of Le Tour. I particularly enjoyed the success of ‘older heads’ on this stage as Nibali & Valverde took full advantage of other pre-occupations to pick-pocket the stage.
    Paris beckons, I shall choose some claret.

  • plurien Sunday, 28 July 2019, 12:21 am

    Thinking of opportunities instead of problems: If the Champs Elysees is the Sprinters’ World Cup, why not make stage 20 a perennial Climbers’ World Cup? Keep it short and give the teams time to make the dash to Paris. Wrap up the mountains jersey and credit the climbers just as attention switches to the sprinters once again.

  • GC hopeful Sunday, 28 July 2019, 6:02 am

    I wonder what would have happened if JA had trained to be a GC contender.