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Tour de France Stage 21 Preview

The final stage of the race that’s first victory parade, then the most glamourous criterium in the world.


Stage 20 Review: an abbreviated stage and so a dash to the final climb of the Tour. Vincenzo Nibali got in the breakaway and led the charge with Ilnur Zakarin, Pierre-Luc Périchon, Tony Gallopin and Michael Woods and then went solo. Jumbo-Visma got to work with 25km to go and had George Bennett pulling like there was 5km left, this was their plan to crack Julian Alaphilippe and get Steven Kruijswijk on the podium in Paris and it worked. Kruijswijk also had to watch for Emanuel Buchmann but the German was never a threat.

Ahead Nibali took a prestigious stage win for his career and his first big summit finish win since Risoul in the 2016 Giro. Movistar could have tried to bring him back but their riders were all over the place, ironically they’ll collect the team prize later today but only after a series of individualistic performances. In another ironic twist Romain Bardet wins the mountains jersey and after all that Pinot and Alaphilippe achieved this month he’ll be the Frenchman on the podium this evening, there’s a touch of the Steven Bradbury about it but it means he’s on the podium and his team sponsors will be delighted.


The Route: a start in Rambouillet and the Chevreuse valley, probably on some of the roads that will be used for the 2024 Paris Olympics and then into Paris via a couple of tourist novelties as they cross the Pont Neuf and pass through the courtyard of the Louvre with its glass pyramid. Then nine laps of the Champs Elysées circuit.

The Contenders: it’s not an easy pick, for the last three years the Paris stage has gone to a sprinter who hadn’t won a stage see Greipel in 2016, Groenewegen in 2017 and Alexander Kristoff last year. Still it’s hard to see anyone getting the better of Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal), Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) and Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quickstep) with Ewan proving to be the obvious pick today and Viviani the least reassuring given he was in the breakaway yesterday and has been on team duties while his rivals have been trying to save energy here and there.

Caleb Ewan, Dylan Groenewegen
Elia Viviani
Alexander Kristoff, Peter Sagan



Yellow story: Egan Bernal is not the youngest winner of the Tour de France, that’s Henry Cornet, also known as Henri Jardy, who won the 1904 edition aged 19. But at 22 years, six months and 15 days Bernal is the youngest ever winner of the yellow jersey in Paris.

Weather: sunshine and clouds, 25°C and not a landslide or hailstorm in sight.

TV: the stage starts at 6.05pm CEST and finish is forecast for 21.20pm CEST / Euro time. Even the most dedicated cycling fan doesn’t have to sit through the first couple of hours but after all that’s happened the riders deserve a parade and besides this final stage is the carrot to keep sprinters in the race when they might otherwise bale before the Alps, even if a finishing medal in the Tour de France is an achievement all starters want.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • paul Sunday, 28 July 2019, 7:11 am

    Thank you again for all the illuminating comment. The competition keep improving but you are still way out in front.

  • Somers Sunday, 28 July 2019, 7:27 am

    I wonder when the last time was that one team had three yellow jerseys winners in it.

    • Somers Sunday, 28 July 2019, 7:28 am

      By that I mean 3 TDF winners

      • oldDAVE Sunday, 28 July 2019, 10:22 am

        This is a very hard question to answer even with a quick google… so many teams have had two – Sky 17 Astana 09 going back to Riis/Ullrich, Indurain/Delgado, Hinault/Lemond but three…?? Any answers?

        • Tedba Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:26 am

          Yup… Very interesting but I’m coming up short. Astana 09-10 is tantalising as Pereiro joined as Armstrong (pre dq) was on his way out.

          Lemond / Hainault / Fignon shared Renault I think but before they had all won.

        • Morten Reippuert Knudsen Sunday, 28 July 2019, 8:37 pm

          Riis, Zabel, Ulrich, 1996 + and they won stages.

          Nothing new too see….

          • Tom Monday, 29 July 2019, 11:46 am

            Which edition of Le Tour did Zabel secure overall GC?..

          • The Inner Ring Monday, 29 July 2019, 11:48 am

            I think he’s trying to say we’ve seen super teams in the past, helped by nine rider teams. You wonder about Groenewegen’s chances if Jumbo hire Dumoulin soon.

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:35 am

      Think it’s been done in the 1920s (Thys, Lambot, Scieur) and the 1930s (Speicher, Leduq, Magne). As Tedba says Renault had Fignon, LeMond and Hinault but not as winners, LeMond would only win after leaving for La Vie Claire in 1986.

      • Anonymous Sunday, 28 July 2019, 2:12 pm

        Last time was last year. This year the same team will very likely make it four.

        • Simon Sunday, 28 July 2019, 3:38 pm

          Which team? Think you’ve missed understood the OPs question!

          Sky/Ineos had Froome and Thomas in yellow, who was the third (bearing in mind Wiggo had retired and doesn’t count as being in the team as I’ve understood the OP). So, 2019 will see Ineos with froome, Thomas and Bernal

  • Nico Sunday, 28 July 2019, 7:32 am

    Maybe Ewan’s sprinting style will give him some problems in Paris? We saw his rear wheel jump all over the road on stage 7 because of some bumps in the uphill sprint. Surely costed him the victory there.

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:36 am

      It’s a problem but this Tour he’s been winning with a more classic sprint position rather than going out as much over the front wheel.

      PS added Sagan to the chainring picks.

    • Geir Werner Hagen Sunday, 28 July 2019, 5:34 pm

      I was thinking along those lines too; Ewan has learned/honed his technique in the sprint, but that skidding with the backwheel should be less. He has lost by cm’s lots of times and with more groundcontact it Would maybe be just the cms he needed?

  • Anonymous Sunday, 28 July 2019, 7:58 am

    An absolute joy of a Tour de France to watch, with the kind of open racing so many of us have been waiting years for.

    There’s a rather large ‘but’, though.

    Hugely disappointing end.

    Yesterday’s stage was like a prescient and ominous return to the last few years with the other GC riders queuing up behind Ineos and not even trying to attack and win the race, instead clinging on to their top 5 positions.
    (And next year, Ineos will have the winners of the last three years’ TdFs, plus the Giro winner – and that’s before the inevitable signing spree in August. The next open TdF looks very distant.)

    Disappointing from Bernal as well. He had the opportunity to prove he is the best rider in this race – and if he is the strongest, he chose not to show it.
    As it is, he was probably the best rider (after Pinot dropped out; who knows otherwise), but ‘probably’ is not good enough, even if the others suggested yesterday that they didn’t have what it took to catch him on Stage 19.
    That’s not his fault, but however much some wish to delude themselves that ‘he’d definitely have won anyway’, no-one knows what would have happened.
    Annulling Stage 19 would have been a better idea. We’d have had a true winner decided yesterday (probably still Bernal).

    The time he gained to take overall victory was ‘won’ at a finish line nobody knew existed.

    • DJS Sunday, 28 July 2019, 8:20 am

      That’s rather harsh on Bernal – who is only 22 years old and was on his way to a likely stage win before he crossed this finish line that he also didn’t know existed. I would argue that the time he gained to win the overall was the day before when he attacked the group of classification riders and took enough time to leapfrog his teammate in the GC and thus become ‘leader’ of Ineos. That Alaphilippe was going to crack was pretty much a given, it was great to see him hold out that long. Also – yesterday was not clinging on by other riders but a determined drive by Jumbo Visma to get Kruijswijk on the podium. They might have tried to attack Bernal/Thomas but the finishing, with Bernal and Thomas crossing the line smiling, ahead of the other GC riders, showed that further attacks would have been to no avail – apart from the chance of loosing spots in GC because of exhaustion.

      • Matthew Sunday, 28 July 2019, 8:27 am

        If anything it would be Jumbo Visma that were disappointing, an injured George Bennett then a phenomenal Laurence de Plus shelled most of the peloton the SK made no effort to finish it off. Getting on the podium is obviously a great achievement for SK, but does that leave him with a few decades of wondering what would have happened if………

        • Lanterne_Verte Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:51 am

          No effort? We have no idea how he was feeling, its quite possible, highly likely in fact that he was in a world of pain and had no more to give after three weeks of hard racing. After his attack on the Alpe d’Huez stage last year no one can accuse him of not being willing to give it a go when he can

          • Anonymous Sunday, 28 July 2019, 12:45 pm

            Or when he has little to lose, like last year.

      • Anonymous Sunday, 28 July 2019, 8:58 am

        DJS, I don’t think it’s harsh on Bernal. He remains a ‘probably would have won’. But he didn’t prove it. Yesterday was an opportunity to do so.
        Matthew, I was much more disappointed in SK than in Bernal, hence I wrote ‘the other GC riders queuing up behind Ineos and not even trying to attack and win the race’. Like you, if I was SK I’d be wondering ‘what if…’ forever – and I’d much rather try and come 4th than not try and come 3rd: it’s one place different and I can’t see how the podium matters at all.

        • Megi Sunday, 28 July 2019, 9:24 am

          DJS and Anonymous. Egon Bernal already had an impressive palmares before the TdF and had shown he could ride away from the rest before Stage 19. I have no problems with him winning the Yellow Jersey nor the way ASO handled an extraordinary situation, which they did as fairly as possible in the circumstances.
          I hope in years to come Bernal makes it clear to both of you by the many future wins that are bound to come that he deserves his place on top of the podium this year.

          • Anonymous Sunday, 28 July 2019, 10:07 am

            Bernal almost certainly was the best rider, but it would have been much better to see a bit of panache on the final stage. He could well have taken it and shown us all – the likelihood of him cracking seems very remote, but maybe the team didn’t allow this in order to conserve Thomas’ 2nd place.
            On that note, what’s so deeply unimpressive about SK’s (non-)performance is that whilst he was almost certainly not going to win with an attack, he was 12 seconds off 2nd and didn’t even have a crack.

          • Sergio Sunday, 28 July 2019, 1:33 pm

            As a Brazilian, I read panache and it reminds me of us talking about “futebol arte”, which is the “jogo bonito” (though no one says that in Brazil).

            Our usual reference is the 1982 team, with Zico, Socrates, Falcão, Eder etc, which was the last time Brazil played beautifully— and lost horribly to Italy in the semifinals.

            Also, both sports has changed dramatically: many more athletes and teams at the highest levels, all workers at a big industry with a lot at stake.

            So I’m all for panache, or futebol arte, but would much rather have the win!

          • hugh Sunday, 28 July 2019, 10:23 am

            Bernal deserves his place this year. He took 32 seconds on the Galibier stage, maintaining a gap in the descent won at the top of the climb. The others chased but could not catch. On the weather affected Tignes stage, he clearly shredded all his opponents on the highest climb of the race. No one was to know what what happen at that stage and he should not be penalised for having dropped all his opponents and every rider he came across on the way up. Its speculation but I find it hard to believe he would have come anywhere less that 2nd on that stage although I imagine more likely first since he had already caught and passed Simon Yates once. Yesterday was all about being the pro doing the team job and finishing with the 1-2, a possibly disappointing but highly professional approach that we have come to expect from Sky/Ineos. I, too, was a little disappointed by that. Bernal failed to take polka dots by only 8 points and the notion that the winner, Bardet, is a better climber than Bernal in this race is, frankly, a joke. BUt that was the call Ineos made. BUt let’s not pretend that Bernal doesn’t really deserve it or that there is some procedural asterisk over his achievement. He is the best rider there, the ever fragile Pinot included.

          • DJS Sunday, 28 July 2019, 2:28 pm

            Megi – my statement was in defense of Bernal. I totally agree with you that he is a deserving winner – which is what I was trying to explain above by saying that he probably would have won in Tignes and that the decisive attack was made the day before when he got himself to 2nd in GC. I also agree that we are very likely to see him win a lot more, including a lot more TdFs – he is so strong that I almost fear we are in for another multi-year winning streak of the same rider. But we’ll see.

        • JeroenK Sunday, 28 July 2019, 10:11 am

          The Iseran situation is what it is and the riders had to move on. For Kruiswijk that meant moving up on GC, by dropping Alaphilippe. I am sure that if he felt strong and Thomas looked weak, he’d have attacked. His result at the finish showed he was at his limit and so were the others. At least he and his team showed tactics with a clear goal. Buchmann just sat there and Movistar… well – others will probably talk lots about those guys. Bernal risked blowing up his team mate by trying to win the stage, handing 2nd to Kruiswijk.
          They cannot do anything right, right? If you have an imposing winner like Froom in his best years, critics speak of Sky robots and doping allegations are filling up entire data centres. If it’s really close like this, you expect them to risk all, while my wild guess is none of you have ever been in a situation remotely like this.

          The Tour needs an armchair critic jersey for guys like you, probably a whole lot bigger than their usual size range.

          • Anonymous Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:04 am

            JeroenK and oldDAVE:

            We’re all armchair critics (unless you’re in the peloton?).
            This is a cycling website with a ‘Comments’ section at the bottom – and, yes, those comments are bound to include criticism. Criticism of cyclists, the races and all other aspects of cycling.

            What were you expecting to find?

            I don’t understand why people seem to take this personally.

            What baffles me more is that some seem to think that commenting on other commenters is more interesting and relevant than commenting on cycling.

            (oldDAVE: see first sentence of the original comment. The first 18 stages were fabulous.)

          • hoh Monday, 29 July 2019, 9:57 am

            Arrogant people usually find it strange when people don’t like what they do.

          • HeleninSomerset Sunday, 28 July 2019, 1:34 pm

            Thank you JeroenK – well said.

          • Anonymous Monday, 29 July 2019, 11:34 am

            hoh, can you not see how aggressive your posts containing multiple personal insults are?

          • hoh Monday, 29 July 2019, 12:54 pm

            My friend, on this very public forum you firstly lay a very unfair judgement on a 22 year old (remains a probably would have win); then you then try to diminish his achievements with this “gifted a win” nonsense even though he won fair and square.

            You did both aggressively, all the while hiding behind Anonymous.

            All that quite frankly are inviting people to lay a very personal judgement on you. And then you are surprised by people‘s response?

            My god, you really need to reconnect with humanity.

          • The Inner Ring Monday, 29 July 2019, 11:35 am

            Anonymous: cut out the arguments please, it’s wasting my bandwidth.

          • Anonymous Monday, 29 July 2019, 11:39 am

            Good idea, Inner Ring, don’t criticise the person making the personal insults, criticise the person calling them out for it. Unbiased.

          • The Inner Ring Monday, 29 July 2019, 11:42 am

            It’s one anonymous person arguing with someone in the comments section of a blog, it’ll go nowhere rather win over people by force of argument and wit. I find it tedious and you’ve been warned.

        • oldDAVE Sunday, 28 July 2019, 10:36 am

          Oh geez.
          This is such a tiresome comment.
          Not sure why we even respond to a ranting Anonymous who can’t even be bothered to scribble down a name.

          Bernal was clearly the strongest in the end, I think we’re clutching at straws to pretend K or even a fit Pinot would have gone with him on Friday. He had his chance and took it.

          I wanted Pinot to win or even Alaphillippe to hold on (even if Thursday made it clear that wouldn’t happen)… but you can’t always get what you want and that doesn’t mean you should lambast a 22 year old prodigy for playing it slightly cautious on the final day to win his country’s greatest ever sporting achievement. It’s incredible what he’s done, I think it’s time to get up off the sofa and re-engage with humanity if you can’t appreciate that.

          Yes the final stage was a washout and we didn’t get the magical end most we’re hoping for – but there’s a thousand things to blame before Bernal, the weather for one, Jumbo+K flattering to deceive, Buchmann running out of legs (not his fault), Ineos having the best two riders etc etc…

          But isn’t that just cycling? It’s kind of how it works and partly why it’s relentlessly great. You don’t always get what you want.

          I’d rather be thankful for two and a half weeks of magic than angry over a day and a bit of underwhelming action.

          Next year we just need to see the best vs the best – Dumoulin vs Bernal vs Froome vs Simon Yates vs Landa – and they all need to come in form and not lose time in the opening stages (jokes… that will never happen)

          • omegaman Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:03 am

            The problem with your final scenario Dave is that its a fantasy. As you say yourself earlier, there is a thing called “bike racing” and in this bike racing silly things happen. Riders lose time in cross winds, they bang their knee on the handlebars, they get a chesty cough, they miss a feed, they hit a random roadside supporter, they take the wrong route, they crash in a descent, etc, etc, etc. A grand tour is 21 days of what can happen will happen and so there will never be the fantasy scenario of the ten best guys in the world all at their best, toe to toe, racing in a vacuum in which only their ability decides the outcome. I tend to think its the unknowns of bike racing that make it was it is though. Alaphilippe is the big joy of this particular Tour, certainly an unknown no one guessed before the start. Yet the genuinely best rider in the race did win it because after all the unknowns that which is most likely to happen will probably still happen. If it can.

          • oldDAVE Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:45 am

            Er did you miss the bit where I said jokes that will not happen?!

          • Anonymous Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:34 am

            ‘re-engage with humanity’.
            Seriously? You’re commenting on how engaged a stranger is with humanity.
            That is as meaningless as it is baseless.

            As for Bernal, I said ‘That’s not his fault’ and I’ve criticised SK a lot more than I have Bernal.
            It’s fair enough not to agree with what I said – hugh makes an excellent response – but the personal judgements on a stranger are worthless.
            Talk about the cycling.
            I’ll leave this tedious subject here.

          • oldDAVE Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:55 am

            Ah. You’re probably right. I went too far. Apologies. I have just found the tone of your comments throughout this Tour tiresome – assuming that it is the same Anonymous looking to wind up this comments section on a daily basis.

            Anyway. I’ve been google translating Colombian newspapers today, similar to Equadorian after the Giro, I’m really elated for them and excited to see where this tidal wave of South American riders and support takes the sport next.

          • hoh Monday, 29 July 2019, 10:01 am

            No need to apology, Dave. He deserves it. And you went a lot milder than myself (my post somehow was located in the wrong place).

          • Anonymous Sunday, 28 July 2019, 12:44 pm

            Not the same anonymous. Fair play to you for apologising.

    • Digahole Sunday, 28 July 2019, 10:28 am

      Yep, an unsatisfying an end, but let’s be real, when it got to the pointy end, it was clear that Bernal was the strongest climber to finish the race. He rode away from the rest of them on stages 15, 18 and 19 and they just didn’t have it to go with him. He knew he was strongest and they knew it.
      Except Pinot, he shredded them all, inc Bernal on the Prat D’albis… not with an attack on a steep section, but with sustained power on a 7% gradient.
      Yeah, stages 19 and 20 were a way off from the classic finish the race deserved, but for mine, that was gone with Pinot’s abandon.

      • Larry T Sunday, 28 July 2019, 10:44 am

        Hard to argue with any of that. OTOH, this is the most egregious example of the “Can’t beat ’em? Buy ’em!” strategy displayed by Dave B’s team to-date. They bought this guy lock-stock-and chamois cream from Androni and put him into service of their homegrown stars last season and moved him up to take on the Giro as leader only to have injuries swap him over to LeTour this year.
        I’m as happy for him as I was for Carapaz as they both raced to win but a Tour (and Giro) that promised so much I guess was bound to deflate at some point?
        At this point I’m hoping a rider from Central/South America might win La Vuelta as well to make a GT 2019 trifecta. Who can step up?

        • omegaman Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:07 am

          I hope, Larry, that you realise Brailsford bought Bernal initially, at his own public admission in a live TV interview the other day, for “not very much money. Anyone else could have bought him too”. Perhaps you imagine only Sky/Ineos could have afforded him. If I’m understanding Brailsford correctly, he is saying that’s simply not true. And there goes your point.

          • SYH Sunday, 28 July 2019, 4:31 pm

            There’s a difference between buying out a contract and paying the salary for a new 5-year contract.

          • Larry T Sunday, 28 July 2019, 5:00 pm

            Your comment assumes other teams had whatever it took to match or beat SKY/INEOS offer -which is something I don’t know…do you?
            And in the end, no matter what he paid, how does “I bought him on the cheap!” improve the “Can’t beat ’em? Buy ’em!” idea that I dislike?
            And then there’s the Ivan Sosa saga…perhaps you can offer a rationalization for that one too?

        • Augie March Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:21 am

          We’ll all be cheering on Esteban Chaves for the Vuelta.

    • Dave Sunday, 28 July 2019, 12:55 pm

      Disappointing from Bernal ? Maybe he should have attacked at the start and dropped everybody on the flat then won by 20 minutes ? Only then would he be a worthy winner ?

    • hoh Sunday, 28 July 2019, 2:31 pm

      I want to be polite here, as our host deserves so. But I also have to call out what this is: a total BS, massive lots of it.

      After stage 19 where a legendary is denied of him by weather, he needs to prove nothing to nobody, especially not to armchair experts.

      I will start with the factual stuff.
      – Firstly, riders were not follow Ineos. They were following JV yesterday. As to what that meant for competitiveness in the Tour in the future, only the god knows;

      – Secondly, even if stage 19 was nullified, we now know for sure Bernal would win (not probably). SK can’t do nothing after his teammates rode their guts out. And Buchmann only managed to gain two secs on SK (both finished behind Ineos due despite their celebration at the line). As for the possibility of a Thomas last minute betrayal, it is only fantasy of selfish losers who doesn’t understand team work and sacrifice (who would go on to bash Thomas by saying he lacks courage, he is a robot controlled by earpiece that can’t think for himself etc. etc.);

      – Finally, as for Pinot, as sad it is to see him leave, he needs to be there to win the damn thing. Keeping oneself healthy/injury free is important part of winning the Tour. And Frankly, Pinot failed on that, plain and simple.

      Both Pinot & Bernal were robbed by freak events. However, if you still consider Bernal only a “probably” after his showing on stage 18 & 19, and you care anything about applying consistency when you dish out this “probably” label, then you have to admit that Pinot dominating the Alps over Bernal is a even less likely “probably” and frankly not good enough.

      At the end of the day Bernal win. “What if”s and “should”s does not matter. A lot of people are going to feel upset. It is perfectly reasonable to feel that way. What is not, is to bungle up some moral high ground and try to diminish Bernal’s win under pretence of “fairness”. This is simply pathetic.

      • SYH Sunday, 28 July 2019, 4:38 pm

        We don’t know any of this. You put Bernal beating a healty Pinot in the alps as a for-sure, and I remember last year’s Lombardia, where he cracked, in succession, Roglic, Bernal and Nibali to win solo in an amazing bit of attacking climbing. One day races and all that but he’s a talented young rider, he’s not invincible.

        • hoh Monday, 29 July 2019, 10:07 am

          I did not say that.

          My post was directed at the very arrogant Anonymous who was disappointed at Bernal and still considered him a “probably would have won”.

          I was reminding him that given his tendency of doubting things, Pinot dominating 3rd week even when healthy is still a “probably” event, and a low possibility compared to a Bernal win.

    • SYH Sunday, 28 July 2019, 4:36 pm

      I agree that the end was very disappointing- seeing a rider of Bernal’s natural ability win the tour in this manner (not just the shortened stages, but Pinot’s freak accident) was like seeing a billionaire win $500 on a lottery scratch ticket. Hopefully he has the chance to light up the tour next year- Prudhomme should engineer a freak crosswind gale to knock him two minutes out of the lead before the mountains next year.

      • Lord Flash Monday, 29 July 2019, 3:47 pm

        Put in a 70km flat time trial and a 30km mountain time trial

    • Irungo txuletak Sunday, 28 July 2019, 7:58 pm

      I agree that the last 2 alp stages were anticlimax, but frankly, I don’t think it is Bernal to blame. He attacked on the galibier and also in the iseran. He is the only favourite having done so. It is more his victory than sky train’s, as we have seen in other years.
      I have not the feeling that the rest of the top 10 has been taking more initiatives (ja excluded of course, and maybe movistar too with their so personal way to understand strategy).

  • nortonpdj Sunday, 28 July 2019, 8:23 am

    Not only did the winners of the Yellow (and White) and Polka Dot jerseys fail to win a single stage, but neither did their respective teams!

    • anon Sunday, 28 July 2019, 10:25 am

      Bernal sort of did, although the record books will always record no winner.

      • Anonymous Sunday, 28 July 2019, 12:48 pm

        He was with Yates. Anything could have happened: Yates sitting on him and winning a sprint, Bernal leaving everyone behind, even Bernal cracking and the others catching up. And many more. You can’t say Bernal won when he wasn’t even leading alone and there was still a big climb to come and J-V had numbers behind.

        • anon Sunday, 28 July 2019, 1:46 pm

          “Anything” includes dropping Yates again, something he did easily on the Col de L’Iseran.

          • Anonymous Sunday, 28 July 2019, 4:53 pm

            Yep: ‘Bernal leaving everyone behind’.

        • omegaman Sunday, 28 July 2019, 1:48 pm

          Bernal “won”. He led over the Col by 13 seconds. He was alone over the top. That would be a win at every other finish.

          • Anonymous Sunday, 28 July 2019, 4:59 pm

            It wasn’t the finish when he went over it. It became the finish later.

          • Anonymous Sunday, 28 July 2019, 5:21 pm

            Do you want a point for stating what we all know? I think the point is he was there and the rest were in his wake. No stage results were announced but Bernal had done the damage required.

          • Anonymous Sunday, 28 July 2019, 5:33 pm

            Bernal did not win the stage. People appear to believe he did because that’s what they want.

          • Anonymous Sunday, 28 July 2019, 5:37 pm

            Who is “they” in the “that’s what they all want” theory?

    • Kavan Sunday, 28 July 2019, 10:30 am

      And congratulations to Sebastion Langeveld of EF winner of the Lanterne Rouge.

      • The Inner Ring Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:37 am

        He hasn’t got it yet, plenty of riders get dropped on the Champs Elysées as the pace is so high, Offredo and Debusschere have an outside chance, it’s the one result that could change in theory today.

  • Lord Flash Sunday, 28 July 2019, 8:35 am

    Thanks for your excellent commentary during this Tour, Mr. Ring, but I think you’re not giving a rider his due this time. George Bennet indeed did an excellent pull at the bottom of the climb, but it was Laurens de Plus who put in a fierce pace for the largest part of the Val Tho ascension

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:38 am

      Both did a good job, just wanted to remark above how early they started on the climb, it was clearly to crack Alaphilippe rather than go for the stage win or beat Thomas.

      • Lord Flash Monday, 29 July 2019, 3:49 pm

        Fair enough, thanks again

  • Richard S Sunday, 28 July 2019, 8:37 am

    This has been an excellent Tour made what it was largely through the efforts of Alaphilippe and Pinot. Its seems a little unfair that they’ll go largely unrewarded for that. Bernal was pretty quiet most of the race but came to the fore where you’d expect him to and did what he needed to. That’s how you win GT’s. Impressively mature for a 22 year old but then I suppose his team have all the experience. For the rest of them, Landa tried and Quintana came to life after he was out of it. Other than that the top 10 is filled with rides a la Zubeldia, who presumably became famous because his style was unusual but now it just seems to be the way. Kruiswijk, rightly or wrongly, was happy enough with 3rd, I still don’t know what Buchmann looks like and the only time we saw Uran was when he got unusually animated about the stage getting shortened. Likewise Thomas has come 2nd on the back of the TTT and ITT and his teams proficiency in cross winds. As mentioned above the final stage was a depressing throwback to Sky’s previous wins. Next year they won’t be as weak as they were this year, when they have still got a 1-2.

    • Jovelo Sunday, 28 July 2019, 10:04 am

      Yes, top marks for Pinot and Alaph’, Bernal very good, Thomas meh, Kruiswijk and Buchman come on guys…
      Goes to show that even if Pinot’s tattoo says “solo la vittoria e bella” in this sport there is more to it and that the journey counts and makes you a worthy man or woman who inspires people, in the end that has more value than the rest.

    • Digahole Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:14 am

      With the highs being as high as they were, the come-down was always going to be nasty. But… Alaphilippe did win 3 stages, spent just about the whole race in yellow and Pinot added a Tourmalet summit to his Palmares. Maybe ‘unrewarded’ is a bit glass-half-empty 😉
      Yeah, Froome and TD weren’t here, but the glass-half-full take is that the other teams continue to step up towards INEOS level. Jumbo Visma will be Sky-strong next year with Dumoulin, Mitchellton Scott were all over this race and S.Yates was climbing with the best despite having done the Giro, Alaphilippe and Pinot have both shown themselves as realistic potential winners – there’s more reason than ever for funding to be put behind these teams and riders that will raise their level and make for great racing

    • MCH Monday, 29 July 2019, 7:12 am

      “Bernal was pretty quiet most of the race” seems a bit harsh given his attacks on stage 18 (when he left the GC group behind taking 32 seconds off the other contenders) and stage 19 (when he went solo from 43 km out and quickly gained over a minute on the GC group).

  • Paul Sunday, 28 July 2019, 10:33 am

    What a fantastic TDF Chapeau to INRNG for being my go to place first thing in the morning.

    Now to Bernal the fact that he did not attack on the final stage is one of the reasons I think he will go on to win many more GT’s within a sting team.

    He is:
    He had a race brain
    He can climb
    He can TT
    He is a team player

    As far as other teams on taking the race to him on the final climb everybody had too much to lose it’s not a small thing to get a podium or a top 10 even it can save a teams season or grease the wheel of a move deal

    More and more this year I am reminded that what these guys and gals do is no small thing and is very difficult indeed.

    The tactical error of the tour goes to Jumb Visma for sending Bennet back for bottles!

    A fabulous tour for the French do we think JA can make the transition to GC?

    • Jovelo Sunday, 28 July 2019, 10:47 am

      I think Alaphilippe can make the transition to GC, after all this time he’s 5th. He’s a huge talent.
      Now battling for GC and winning (tour de France) GC are two different beasts. First it depends on the course design. Second it depends on the competition… Especially the elephant in the room, Ineos.
      If next year at TDF the Ineos team is Bernal, completely recovered Froome, Carapaz, Thomas, Kwiato, Poels, Moscon, Rowe… Frankly why bother? He would be better off chasing classics, monuments, or maybe try his luck at Vuelta.

      • omegaman Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:17 am

        Porte has been 5th. Tejay has been 5th. Quintana and Bardet have been 2nd. But can we see any of them translating to 1st just because they have “talent” or “got close”? 5th is a million miles away, relatively speaking, and it takes more than punching above your considerable weight to make the win. You mention having a team built for success as one good example. Being able to survive back to back high mountain days (Alaphilippe’s weakness) is another. I continue to believe and hope that grand tours find the best all-rounder in a given 3 week period.

        • Jovelo Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:53 am


        • Richard S Sunday, 28 July 2019, 1:08 pm

          Given your last sentence I presume you want Alaphilippe to win then, given that he is the best all round cyclist in the world right now?

          • omegaman Sunday, 28 July 2019, 1:51 pm

            The last three weeks says otherwise Richard unless you want to enter into an absurd mathematics of results in differing races. I think that means Alaphilippe leads the UCI ranking, not that he can or should win a grand tour.

          • Richard S Sunday, 28 July 2019, 6:10 pm

            I would say they have underlined it. There’s much more to cycling than the Tour, you should try some of the other races.

      • Digahole Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:34 am

        Froome back at full strength? He’ll be 35 next year and that after a massive injury and rehab – only one rider over 34 has ever won the Tour and that was in 1922. More likely is that his best days are over. If We take that into account, the only difference to this year is that they’ll have Carapaz… and someone’s gotta ride the Giro

      • The Inner Ring Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:39 am

        People were asking last year if Alaphilippe can be a GC rider too, it’s probably a good subject to explore next week as we look back the race.

        • oldDAVE Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:57 am

          But he can’t right…?
          As far as I can see there’s no weight to lose, he already trains to climb… is it experience that might help? His flaws for GT riding look hard to overcome? Or maybe he’s similar to Yates?

          • Digahole Sunday, 28 July 2019, 12:38 pm

            …Or he already is isn’t he? His race was quite similar (and ultimately more successful) to Simon Yates in the 2018 Giro which was promptly followed by his Vuelta win. With specific training, team support and the learnings from this race you’d think he’d be right up there

          • anon Sunday, 28 July 2019, 12:47 pm

            Alaphilippe could probably podium at the Vuelta, a race of steeper and shorter climbs in general, as the Spanish landscape dictates. His issue seems to be long mountain days at high altitude piled one after another. Hard to see how he overcomes that – or why he would even want to when one day races and week long tours are there for the taking if he so chooses.

          • Richard S Sunday, 28 July 2019, 1:15 pm

            ‘He already trains to climb’ is a rather simplistic way of looking at it. The length of the climbs he trains on is quite important too. To dominate between February and April like he did this year will have required repeat short bursts of 2-10 minutes at vo2 max and anaerobic zones, plus working on his sprint. If he goes all in for the Tour he can sack all that off and do half hour to one hour efforts at threshold or just below. Whether that’s a good idea and will actually allow him to win the Tour is another story. He could just carry on as he is, win classics, win the worlds, enliven the Tour every year, be every French house wife’s golden boy and maybe win a Vuelta?

          • MCH Monday, 29 July 2019, 7:26 am

            I think the key comment here is Richard S’s “…why he would even want to”.
            There are examples of riders reshaping themselves to change their power to weight ratio to compete in grand tours, but if JA did so he would almost certainly lose some of his competitiveness in the one day classics and the world championship. Would he really want to do that?

    • Daan Sunday, 28 July 2019, 12:04 pm

      It was a tactical error of Bennett himself. He was never asked to get bottles for the team. It was his own stupid decision.

      • The Inner Ring Sunday, 28 July 2019, 12:05 pm

        The team should have said “no way George”. It was lucky van Aert won the stage that day otherwise it would have been a bad story for them.

  • plurien Sunday, 28 July 2019, 10:43 am

    Props to Kasper Asgreen. He’s been the complete engine on some of the longest and hottest days when QST looked comfortable holders of the yellow.
    On this whole stage 19 thing: Can everyone accept the Col de l’Iseran is the only solution? Clearly we know they couldn’t race on to the line. Annul the stage result and those who were hitting out get nothing and then are robbed on st20. Sure it’s a compromise but there is a line and there are times which are pretty realistic for those at the front who were in contention. No time bonuses. All the others in the autobus who heard the stage times would be at the col don’t matter on GC.
    Kruijswijk had the best possible team, particularly Bennett who was so incredibly motivated to continue after two crashes on st17. DePlus could not have been expected to do so much into the final kms of st20 and this meant they gave Skineos an armchair ride at a crucial part. There was nothing left for him to do apart from hold on to what he had. Attack, and Thomas would have been all over him. Don’t be disappointed in what he couldn’t do, since this is not the same as not wanting to do it. The team spirit was great. Movistar should learn and they could easily take a GT.
    Team Ineos played a waiting game (c SKelly) and threw their cards down when it counted.
    What a Tour it’s been for the followers of French cycling. This has to be a good thing for the future of the world’s best sport event. Duration, adoration, speculation, field of play – It’s the biggest.

    And finally, most important Thank You Mr INRNG for your coverage and insight. Cordial best wishes to all who’ve followed along with comments

  • omegaman Sunday, 28 July 2019, 10:44 am

    Consider that Bernal lost 1.36 to Alaphilippe in the ITT and 1.22 to Thomas. He was the worst of the top 5/6 (if you include Pinot) on that stage which, let us remember, was the stage in which his race really started. In the Pyrenees, he was in the frame, Pinot having an edge which gave him 26 seconds over Bernal but none of the rest really besting him. But in the Alps there was only one winner and it was Bernal. 32 seconds over everyone on the Queen stage. A minute over the chasing GC riders before the necessary curtailment of the stage and two over Alaphilippe whose demise was only a matter of time on back to back real mountain days. On stage 20 all he had to do was stay with the rest, something he accomplished with seeming ease although even then he and Thomas pulled away from Buchmann and Kruijswijk in the end, as if to emphasise that the cream always rises to the top (although all the way up Val Thorens you could see a line of guys happy with what they’d already got). You may say, of course, that the unknown element was Pinot but don’t deceive yourselves. One of Pinot’s greatest problems has always been his physical makeup. He seems fragile whether that be heat, illness, injury, etc. I heard rumours during the race of FDJ staff wiping things down with disinfectant all the time so that he wouldn’t get a bug. That may be Internet waffle but it makes a point. Pinot needs to survive to win and often he doesn’t. Grand tours are endurance tests and so you must endure.

    So Bernal is a worthy winner. And he only really needed stages 14,15, 18 + 19 to prove it. One wonders what the ASO do now though in their continuing mission to create a course that finds the Ineos weak spot. 20x Fleche Wallonne and a parade into Paris? We shall see. Viva Colombia!

    • Ecky Thump Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:21 am

      That feels very harsh on Pinot.
      To come back in the Pyrenees, after his time loss in the wind, in the dashing manner he did lit up the race and all fans of cycling.
      Pinot has so much to look forward to.

      Someone mentioned yesterday that it’s been a memorable tour.
      It has, for drama and stories to tell. It’s been a tour that will be remembered and talked about in 30 years time, that encapsulated sport and life.

      • omegaman Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:29 am

        Criticising Pinot’s fragility over 3 weeks is not to criticise his panache. His performances on stage 14+15 were certainly exhilarating and race-enlivening but his inevitable retirement was not, in my view, the world’s biggest surprise. Rather, only the cause of it was. He retired only last year from his season target grand tour as well and in previous years he has gone missing after off days, etc. So, as I say, endurance is Pinot’s issue.

        • The Inner Ring Sunday, 28 July 2019, 12:22 pm

          It was an unlucky accident with Pinot this time rather than a fade, a freak accident rather than a repetitive problem. He’s unlucky this time but still fared better than others, Fuglsang had bad luck but no stage win, Porte’s not had a season to celebrate so far etc, what must get to him is that he had the podium within his reach as well.

          • omegaman Sunday, 28 July 2019, 12:43 pm

            I’ve just been reading Felix Lowe on Twitter (Eurosport’s “Blazin’ Saddles” blogger) who seems to take a similar view to my own on Pinot. Felix mentions that Pinot is a DNF in 3 of his last 4 Tours. Add in the Giro DNF last year and that begins to build a picture of Pinot the racer. He is a man that infirmity or difficulty seem to find, a perpetual “what if?”

          • Cepphus Grylle Sunday, 28 July 2019, 4:17 pm

            I think the reason he was so emotional after pulling out is because this time it was sheer bad luck and not fragility or weakness. As IR says, he was so close.

          • MCH Monday, 29 July 2019, 7:33 am

            I agree. Pinot looked the strongest I have ever seen him in this year’s tour.

            In particular his ITT and FDJ’s TTT were a revelation compared to past performances. Without his injury I think he would have been a genuine challenger over the last two mountain stages.

            He has looked fragile in the past, but in this year’s tour he looked a genuinely different proposition. More determined and more self confident.

      • KevinR Monday, 29 July 2019, 10:02 am

        I don’t think Omegaman is being harsh at all. As he says it’s an endurance event which means enduring. Who knows, Pinot may have caused the injury or made an injury worse with his attacks in the Pyrenees to get back the time he stupidly lost in the crosswinds. That said, I feel sorry for him because I like Pinot.

        • Eskerrik Asko Monday, 29 July 2019, 11:50 am

          We may of course – if we so wish – assume that everything riders and teams tell us about their injuries probaby isn’t the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but the official version is that he got his injury two days earlier when rider(s) immediately in front of him crashed and he tried (and managed) to avoid it, but hit his thigh against his bar. (I can not only picture the scene but vouch personally for the fact that it is indeed physically possible; been there, done that.)

  • Jovelo Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:00 am

    This year’s race was interesting because of the racers (especially Pinot and Alaphilippe) but I wonder if the extremely limited TTT/ITT kilometers played a role?
    Maybe there are two interesting configurations regarding TTs in grand tours: either almost none, or a lot of TT kilometers. Two different winners profiles. First case, climbers can have a chance unless they’re really bad in TTs (Bardet I’m looking at you…) Second case, winners would be TT specialists who struggle in the mountains. And the polka dot jersey would gain importance, it would really be a race between the best climbers. Of course, this may be an assured victory for Dumoulin but why not try it one year, see how it shakes up the race?
    Maybe the worst case is when there is a medium amount of TTs, as we’ve seen in some past years?

    • hugh Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:11 am

      Bardet may be in polka dots but the notion he is the best climber in the race is laughable. The polka dot jersey needs a lot of thought giving to it in my view as to what it is meant to be rewarding. As a booby prize for GC failures it is not serving a decent purpose.

      • Lukyluk Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:41 am

        I agree, and to his credit, Bardet himself is fully aware of this. In an interview in L’Equipe he said he saw the polka dots as a “nice consolation prize”, but that it wouldn’t alter the need for a deep rethink of his preparation and objectives next season

        He simply didn’t see the point in starting this long-term reflection mid-Tour, and I agree with him. For better or worse, if you start, you’re committed to playing with the tools at your disposal.

        I think the problem has been the concentration of points on the high summits this year (all but one were on stages 18, 19, 20, and one got cut off because of the weather). Maybe another balance in the points approach would have served the race better. The double points on >2000m summit finishes, for instance, was meant to give the jersey to a proper mountain goat, but hasn’t helped the competition this year.

        • The Inner Ring Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:45 am

          It’s a very hard competition to engineer. The ideal is to see it won by someone who soars in the mountains yet doesn’t collect it on their way to winning yellow, ie it’s not just collected as a bonus. As you say Bardet knows this is a meagre consolation but his sponsors will be delighted. Nibali probably had the best “salvage” with his stage win yesterday, that’s how to do it.

          • Jovelo Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:56 am

            It’s especially hard to engineer when the TT kilometers are very low, no?

          • Ecky Thump Sunday, 28 July 2019, 12:21 pm

            I’ve been critical of the mountain points competition in the last few days but if Stage 19 hadn’t been stopped either of Bernal or Simon Yates may have ended up with the Polka Dots, and that would have been a better reflection of form and the race.
            We’d have liked the Mountains winner to have won by a metaphorical landslide rather than a literal one 😀

          • Anonymous Tuesday, 30 July 2019, 12:03 am

            It’s a very hard competition to engineer in modern cycling. Back in the day when it was invented, it was easy to engineer and mountain goats won it. The early winners truly were Kings of the Mountains. These days, it’s a joke competition in every race, even the Tour de France. Yet a lot of people still lap it up as if it means something. Go figure.

      • MCH Monday, 29 July 2019, 7:43 am

        It is pretty unusual for the polka dot jersey to go to the best climber in the race. Think winners such as Julian Alaphilippe, Rafal Majka, Warren Barguil, Thomas Voeckler, Samuel Sanchez, Anthony Charteau in just the last ten years. All talented in the mountains, but also definitely not the best climber in the race.

        When it has happened in the past it has typically been because of the double points for summit finishes

        • cthulhu Monday, 29 July 2019, 1:47 pm

          While I concur that Bardet was not the best climber in the race, how do you determine the best climber?
          Is it somebody who goes on the attack and tries to be first on all mayor climbs or is a GC rider who tries to save his energy as much as possible and then climbs the last climb faster than anyone else? A rider who more or less has to tackle one or several climbs on his own or a rider who waits in the slipstream of his mountain train and just attacks in the last couple of kilometers? …

          Also, I disagree with the double points for the summit finishes. These tilt it more towards the GC riders than the baroudeurs and gave Bernal multo points just on the passing, so that he nearly also won that competition. This year it might have been true that Bernal was also the strongest climber despite his relatively cautious tactics, but implying Barguil did not deserve his win two years ago, is cheap. He went on the attack, beat some illustrous names and was, when not on the attack, most of time with the GC favourites.

      • Larry T Monday, 29 July 2019, 8:25 am

        Where is it written the polka-dot jersey is given to the best climber? It’s given to the racer who scores the most points on offer in that competition, same as the green jersey. Peter Sagan (for what, the 7th time?) scored the most points on offer while Ewan won the most sprint stages.
        In this case some have already argued the yellow jersey didn’t go to the best rider overall but Bernal did what it took to wear it in Paris while Alaphillipe got the combativity prize.
        As long as the competitors know how and where the points are awarded they compete for the jerseys and prizes on offer no matter what you might think they represent. I doubt Sagan or Bardet would argue they are the “best” sprinter or climber respectively, but they won the prizes fair and square.

        • DaveRides Monday, 29 July 2019, 9:00 am

          For the sake of completeness, it should be added that there are already awards for winning stages – the stage win prizes.

        • MCH Monday, 29 July 2019, 11:05 am

          The rules of the TdF state that the polka dot jersey is for the “classement général du meilleur grimpeur” literally the general classification of the best climber. It seems not unreasonable to point out that the way the competition is currently structured does not often lead to that being the case.

          This is not to say that the structure of the competition needs to be changed:
          One could make a case that the way the race has been constituted in recent years (ie a drastic reduction in ITT kms) the best climber in the race is often already rewarded with the overall win so why should they also be rewarded with another prize; or
          That the prize, as it is currently constituted is an inducement for riders to go out into break aways, livening up the race.

          However, a different name “Mountain Points” jersey would probably be a more honest description.

          The green jersey competition is not called the “best sprinter” competition. The yellow jersey competition is not called the “best rider” competition.

        • David Monday, 29 July 2019, 11:20 am

          “Where is it written the polka-dot jersey is given to the best climber?”

          Er, on banners at the top and bottom of literally every climb – “meilleur grimpeur”

          • Larry T Monday, 29 July 2019, 1:21 pm

            And they define that as the guy who gets the points at various places on climbs rather than an arbitrary decision punters like us make. Would you take away Sagan’s green jersey and give it to Ewan? The polka-dot jersey is certainly a throwback to the days when the best climber was rarely the guy who won the race, usually because of his lack of speed against the watch. These days (Bernal is a prime example) they tend to be one and the same, which makes me wonder about those who are proclaiming him the man-to-beat in GT’s for the next decade. This assumes the courses will be similar to 2019 along with a whole bunch of other assumptions that rarely prove to be correct.
            I’m old enough to have heard it all before when a certain German won Le Grand Boucle in 1997. How many GT’s did he win after that?

    • Somers Sunday, 28 July 2019, 12:15 pm

      The ITT kms were reduced (many believe) in response to Froome’s domination. My hunch is that they will be increased significantly next year.

      • Lukyluk Sunday, 28 July 2019, 1:36 pm

        I certainly hope not… The Tour this year didn’t end with the resultsbI had hoped, but I found it much more entertaining than previous editions. I’d rather they kept it alive and unpredictable, and with the potential to reward attacks.

        I wouldn’t look forward to a “Ineos train vs. Jumbo-Visma train” situation with time trials as a final judge…

      • Digahole Sunday, 28 July 2019, 2:39 pm

        You could definitely imagine increased hilly TTs after the results of Pinot and Alaphilippe this year. And with today’s TT style mountain men, personally I think they make for a good compromise and less predictable racing

  • plurien Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:08 am

    For me the error of the Tour was not Bennett going back for bottles – this was his role – it was Thomas easing to the line on st3 and losing 5 seconds to Bernal when 12 riders inc Sagan, GVA, Trentin were ahead.

    • Tomski Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:20 am

      It could be argued that G’s error was easing his way into the new year while everyone else was training.

  • KGB Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:18 am

    An exciting edition of the TdF. Congratulations to Bernal, Thomas and Kruijswijk, and to all the jersey competition winners! I particularly enjoyed seeing those wins by Impey, Trentin, Quintana, de Gendt and Simon Yates. Chapeau to Alaphilippe for lighting up the race. I would have liked to see more from Adam Yates and EF Education First, but maybe next year. And a big thank you, Inner Ring, for your coverage – it is very much appreciated.

  • anon Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:24 am

    All race I heard the likes of Brian Smith, Sean Kelly, Brad Wiggins telling me that Ineos were “weak”, that Kwiatkowski and Moscon were missing in action, that the “Sky train”, as was, was no longer a thing.

    So how come they end up 1+2 anyway? Are they just cherry-picking the best 21 day riders as Larry T seems to maintain?

    • The Inner Ring Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:42 am

      They had a 1-2 but the rest of the team were discreet this year, it was a different performance than the usual with their riders regularly being dropped before others on the mountain finishes. Poels and van Baarle were strong at times and helped but whatever they could do, Bennett and De Plus did it better.

      • oldDAVE Sunday, 28 July 2019, 12:01 pm

        Can’t wait to hear more on this… illness in team? seemed so weird…

      • anon Sunday, 28 July 2019, 12:12 pm

        An honourable mention, too, for Castroviejo who was working himself to facial contortion while others were already dropped.

    • MCH Monday, 29 July 2019, 8:02 am

      It seems to me that Ineos got lucky with the way the race panned out.
      They were relieved from a lot of the work that they would typically have had to do by the fact that Julian Alaphilippe was in yellow for so long – someone who ultimately (as we know now) was not a threat for the GC. It also changed the dynamic of how Pinot and Kruijswijk were able to challenge Thomas and Bernal because they has DQS to lean on.
      Had (say) Thomas gone into yellow after the ITT (a quite likely scenario in advance) the weakness of Kwiatkowski and Poels relative to previous years would have exposed Bernal and Thomas to a lot more pressure.
      As a side note – slightly more coherent tactics for Movistar might have done the same. “C’est manifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre.”

  • oldDAVE Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:59 am

    Cyclingpodcast last night put forward a Tour that didn’t end in Alps or Pyrenees… I love the sound of this – could it happen?

    Also, this years route even despite the weather at the end, was absolutely superb, by far the best I’ve ever seen. Even with the climb being nullified just watching at 30km climb on the final stage was impressive enough.

  • Dave Sunday, 28 July 2019, 12:04 pm

    Fascinating, enthralling yet an anti-climax

    Bernal deserves it – the cumulative time doesn’t lie. When push comes to shove the TDF is a climbing competition and he won it. He did get lucky though: froome and dumoulin and Pinot injured and Roglic poorly advised to do the Giro. Roglic should have been JV’s number 1 in this race with SK his domestique + De Plus and Bennett. That is strong. This is not being wise after the event, I thought that all winter. But you have to take advantage of the luck in front of you….

    Thomas – a strong rider but not strong enough. Never looked like the strongest guy in the race. I think he’ll be pretty happy with 2nd.

    Pinot – fantastic to watch, unlucky with the injury but yet to show he can sparkle at top form for 22 days in July

    Alaphilippe – pls don’t become an even skinnier, alititude-camp GC rider – far more interesting to watch a very punchy rider – he can and should aim for week long stage races and all 5 Monuments. But – if MVdP starts winning everything (which he might) then Ala might head towards GC

    Sagan – a bit subdued. Time marches on. Alaphilippe has stolen his ‘charisma’ slot. I’d like him to win the Worlds.

    Froome – unlikely to ride as a domestique yet will know that no other team can prepare and train him as well as Ineo. When is his contract up? With Sosa, Sivakov, Bernal and Carapaz I think you’ll find Froome’s £4m a year (or what is it?) can vanish from the Ineos P&L quite easily.

    Adam Yates – gutted for him. No doubt undergoing some heavy self-analysis. Perhaps the twins are not equal?

    Simon Yates – such a great rider. not sure what his plan is now – to do the TDF properly next year?? And relegate Adam to Giro or Vuelta? Anyone got any insight into this?

    Kwiato – time to leave Ineos? A poor tour for a great rider. Go back to the Classics and nailing the 1-day races? As 3 week GC ain’t going to happen.

    Poels – ditto. Interestingly Ineos have some selection issues – they’ve been brilliant at hiring and training super-domestiques (Rogers, Porte, Thomas, Nieve, Poels, Kwiato) but they need to bring the next generation through now.

    Thanks InRng for the usual high quality insight and curation of these comments. And thanks to the commenters here – I tend to learn as much from you as anyone else 🙂

    • anon Sunday, 28 July 2019, 12:22 pm

      Roglic couldn’t beat Carapaz and Nibali in the Giro or a tired Dumoulin and Froome – plus Thomas – in last year’s Tour. The notion his entry would have resulted in a more substantial opponent for Bernal is at least questionable. A much more formidable opponent for Bernal would have been if Froome had never crashed and so taken part.

    • Digahole Sunday, 28 July 2019, 2:45 pm

      Surely S.Yates will be solely focused on the Tour next year

    • Anonymous Sunday, 28 July 2019, 5:37 pm

      S. Yates was poor in the race he aimed at, the Giro, just like A. Yates here.

    • plurien Sunday, 28 July 2019, 11:05 pm

      “Ineos have some selection issues – they’ve been brilliant at hiring and training super-domestiques (Rogers, Porte, Thomas, Nieve, Poels, Kwiato) but they need to bring the next generation through now.”
      – You need to take a look at who is no longer riding for the team. Where are they now? Why’d they leave?

  • Max Sunday, 28 July 2019, 12:30 pm

    Chapeau Mr Inrng!

  • Tomski Sunday, 28 July 2019, 12:58 pm

    A really exciting tour this year. Sure, Friday and Saturday left a lot to be desired, but Bernal did what was required at a tender age. What should be considered is at the start of the year, he was his team’s third choice leader, and it was Froome’s injury and G’s form which allowed him to rise to the top.

    Heroic effort from Alaphilippe to hold onto yellow well into the third week. One can only speculate what the future holds for him, although I suspect this is down to his personal ambition. Continued success in the classics means he has a natural home at Quickstep; if he wants to make the transition to GC contender, then he will need to find a new team.

    With that in mind, it has been interesting to see Jumbo and MTS transition over the last few years into out and out gt contenders. Stage wins aside, though, they didn’t quite have it at this year’s tour.

    Movistar were plain awful. I’m not sure who was riding for whom, and the third week became a free for all. I’m not sure it was just the size of Ineos chequebook which lured Carapaz. The Tridente plan just doesn’t work.

    Sunweb and UAE were anonymous, and Katusha’s tactic seemed to be ‘put Zakarin in the break’ – pro conti in all but name.

    Heartbreaking to see Pinot’s exit and to a(n only slightly) lesser extent that of Fuglsang who, with Alaphilippe lit up the early season.

    Thanks once again inrng and all the readers and commenters, all of whom have immensely contributed to my enjoyment this year. Chapeaux all round!!

    • Anonymous Sunday, 28 July 2019, 5:39 pm

      Dimension Data must take the ‘worst team’ prize, surely?
      Great decision by Doug Ryder to leave Cavendish out – that must have been personal.

      • Chuffy Sunday, 28 July 2019, 7:51 pm

        I’m not sure a scrappy 8th place in a couple of sprints would have proved much or saved their Tour. But you’re right, they were rubbish on the whole. Something isn’t right with that team.

        • Anonymous Monday, 29 July 2019, 8:43 am

          I agree that’s probably all Cavendish would have managed. But you never know. Whereas with the rest of that team you knew before the start of the race.
          Something is very wrong with that team: every time a rider goes there – e.g. Valgren – I think ‘No, don’t do that, that’s the kiss of death’. They’re like the new Katusha.

        • DaveRides Monday, 29 July 2019, 9:05 am

          They needed the UCI World Ranking points too much to include Cavendish.

          As he is not in the team’s top ten riders on the rankings, he would have needed to score at least 75 points from results (equivalent to a second place and a third place) to even add one point to the team ranking.

      • Anonymous Monday, 29 July 2019, 8:45 pm

        Cavendish pulled out of Adriatica race at stage 2. He would have been a great addition at the Tour. Not.

    • SYH Sunday, 28 July 2019, 6:08 pm

      Considering they entered without a serious GC threat, Lotto-Soudal have to be the most pleasant surprise of the tour- De Gent and Wellens did a great job lighting up the early stages of races, plus two stage wins- one of them a heroic solo break. Great tour after a fairly pedestrian year.

      • Louis Monday, 29 July 2019, 5:02 am

        That’s 4 stage wins for LTS given Ewan’s 3. Or maybe you counted De Gent’s fantastic stage win as 2? I wouldn’t have any problem with that :).

  • Dave (one of many it seems) Sunday, 28 July 2019, 1:17 pm

    Thank you Mr Inrng for all your race coverage and features . Do you still have any merchandise available ? I got a nice T Shirt a few years ago. Or is there any other way to give you a bit of support ? I’m sure it takes a massive amount of time and effort to produce this content and just saying thanks doesn’t seem like much.

  • Mad Black Sunday, 28 July 2019, 3:11 pm

    “Weather: sunshine and clouds, 25°C and not a landslide or hailstorm in sight.” – That line had me in stitches! Thank you INRNG for brilliant, colourful and educated commentary to an exciting edition of le tour! Still looking forward to part 3 of the 1989 tour. Keep up the amazing work!

  • Peter Sunday, 28 July 2019, 4:03 pm

    This continues to be my favorite blog/site. Inner Ring, you do a wonderful job week after week. Thank you so very much.

  • Rob Sunday, 28 July 2019, 4:05 pm

    Long time reader, annual thank you to Inner Ring after TDF blogging efforts. Fantastic race this year. Chapeau to all the riders and congrats to Bergan, Thomas, Kruiswijk, Bardet, Sagan and of course Alaphilippe for animating the whole race.

    Comments on the forum have got a bit out of hand, a little respect for our gracious host would be nice to see next year.

    • Ecky Thump Sunday, 28 July 2019, 6:03 pm

      Feelings run high when the race is on.
      But I always find it to be quite an emotional time at the culmination of a Grand Tour and especially so at the Tour de France, when we can reflect on all that happened and appreciate all the riders efforts.
      And, of course, our generous host’s.

  • Anonymous Sunday, 28 July 2019, 4:22 pm

    What brailsford likes to talk about right now the „bernal was so cheap, any team could have signed him – but they weren‘t as clever as we were“ is of course nonsense and misleading. Yes, to buy him out of his contract was relatively cheap, even a Pro Conto Team could have shouldered that some way – but of course bernal‘s contract at sky was not cheap and that is what no other team could have matched (just look at the sosa soap opera).

    It is baffling, that so many people fall for such simplistic arguments, that always only tell the half of the story – of course only the half of the story, that is useful for them.

    • Anonymous Sunday, 28 July 2019, 5:13 pm

      Of course, others fall for the “they offered him millions” line because it suits them to think that winning a bike race is only about having the most money.

      Ask Deceuninck-Quickstep if that is true.

    • Anonymous Sunday, 28 July 2019, 5:30 pm

      How much is Bernal on?

      Answers on a postcard I guess…

  • Louis le Blond Sunday, 28 July 2019, 4:35 pm

    Bernal didn’t win one single stage. He was no. 22 in the ITT !!!
    He was sitting in Ineos’s safe luggage carrier roughly 3 weeks.
    Sorry I’m not crying with admiration and joy…….
    Chapeau for Alaphilippe and Kasper Asgreen .

    • Anonymous Sunday, 28 July 2019, 5:17 pm

      I watched stage 19 and it doesn’t seem to me he was in any “luggage carrier” because he was leading the field when nature intervened. Yet even if he was Thomas was in the same carrier and 2nd in the ITT. Is he, then, a more worthy winner by your arcane criteria? What exactly is your point besides articulating your bitterness at the result?

      • Anonymous Sunday, 28 July 2019, 8:32 pm

        I would not say it is „arcane“. People have different ideas about different things. I guess, what he tries to say is, that bernal did not really win, but more, that the others lost this Tour. Especially jumbo-visma are a huge, huge disappointment to me. krusweijk (I know, he is not witten this way, but today I am too tired to look it up) seemed in the words of his team mate bennett „to be riding for second place“ (dmning, when your team mate says such things!) and the energy they invested was not once put to any real use any decisive „put it on the line“-moment. Yes, they have stage wins, but it is a shame, if you are that strong and then not take the race really decisively in your hands. While movistar had the strong domestiques and no one to execute it. quintana is only ever good for one stage and landa is, well, landa. In all this ineos just hung tight, waited till all others were exhausted, out of the race or hurt and then sniped. While this might be ok, it also is not very impressive. Things could have just as well turned out different, if jumbo-visma and movistar would have raced different, if Pinot would not have been hurt, if fuglsang would still be in the race, if th two last days would have played out differently and so on.

        I guess, this is, what the commenter means. ineos were lucky, although some of their luck is, that they have enough money to have two GC-riders. But never, not one moment did they control the race or did it feel as if they were making it their own. That this feels different for different people, that everybody has their own opinions and narratives about that is simply the nature of it, so I don‘t think his/her opinion is „arcane“.

        • jerome Monday, 29 July 2019, 1:54 am

          Thats what the GC is though, the best overall rider over three weeks.

          • Dave Monday, 29 July 2019, 1:39 pm

            Not if you don’t like the result . Then you can talk about ‘worthy’ winners.

          • Anonymous Monday, 29 July 2019, 4:10 pm

            @ dave:
            It is about expectations, like almost everything in life.

            Why do you think people love Alaphilippe and Pinot? They did not win, were not even on the podium, yet they WERE the Tour 2019. And it is the way they raced, that made them special. Because it counts how you do things. So you see, it is not as outlandish as you want to make it sound, that people have expectations on a winner. For many, who actually wins is not very interesting, if that win is not earned in some way they can emphasize with. Just riding along and outstaying the rest might get you in the top of the steps, but surely not in the hearts of most people or in their memory. If bernal would not be so young and the first colombian, there would not be any narrative around him concerning his ride (except the team dynamics) and even less people would talk about him. People need narratives and have expectations, that is the way we work, there is nothing wrong with that per se.

            It is legitimate to have different expectations of a winner/rider/person. Of course some people have not much appetite to respect others and their opinions and so they act as if everybody has to feel, think and talk the same way, but that is the problem of the people, who have no respect and not that of the people, who have different expectations.

  • Jersey-puller Sunday, 28 July 2019, 4:37 pm

    Hi All. I wrote on here only once before but enjoy reading your informed debates. This is a real Cycling ‘purists’/’nuts’ site! So much passion & enthusiasm, great to see.

    I play a free online Fantasy game that’s a bit weird, its a South African & UK based site called ‘Superbru’. It rewards in stage performance as much or sometimes much more than the finishing results, particularly in the mountains. I’m doing very well, I’m 10th out of about 4.5k players, but most are just casual participants who are better at Rugby & Football or F1.

    My dilemma today is deciding which Sprinter might go for extra Inter Sprint points as these offer 5 Superbru points for 1st down to 1 for 11-15th. Yet the Stage Winner only gets 7 (4 for a Top10 & 3 for 1st) plus maybe 2 for Combativity – although this might be a special ‘Whole Tour’ one instead? I think Alaphilippe should get it this year. If I was only bothered with the Final Sprint then Dylan G gets my nod even without Van Aert. But if you factor in Ewan only being 26pts behind Viviani for 2nd (or 1st if Sagan crashes badly before the last 3km!). Colbrelli is 3rd, 5 pts ahead of him & Matthews 4th 3pts ahead of 5th placed Ewan. DG is out of it due to his Stage 1 calamity.

    So on this basis and looking at earlier Inter Sprints then only Ewan, Viviani & even Colbrelli make far more sense than DG or Sagan for that matter. The Inter gets riders 20 Green Jersey Points the final 50. But the Top 5 in both get decent Green Jersey points too. However I’ve not seen Ewan compete in the Inters much.

    Am I reading too much into this? Do these Sprinters ONLY care about ‘keeping their powder dry’ for the BIG Finale? Perhaps a bunch of 4-15 lower teams riders will be allowed to break away and take these points anyway? Maybe leaving a few scraps for 5th over only. Will Sagan want to show off even? I’ve tried to research previous GT Stage 21s but can’t even remember last year’s events.

    So can any of our ‘Learned Counsel’ recall what has happened in the past?

    BTW I had Bernal & S Yates in my 4 picks (4 Bands of 15-20 riders in each, deviously altered daily) on Stage 19! Had it been a normal day and they survived into Tignes, I’d probably be in the Global TOP3! Yeah that hurt me more than Uran at the time!

    Thanks in advance and I hope this all makes sense?. So far my 4 picks are BERNAL, VIVIANI or EWAN, MORKOV & GVA. You are limited to whoever Superbru put in the Bands. Its great fun to play with more twists & turns than ‘The Laces’ descent!

    J-P (aka Paul C)

    • Larrick Sunday, 28 July 2019, 5:34 pm

      You’ll find that normally (not always of course), that there’s a break by the time they go through the inter. Strong rouleur types. Also with Green wrapped up, it’s not going to be worth doing too much extra with the finish not that far off.

      Someone like Schar is who I’d take a risk on.

      • Jersey-puller Sunday, 28 July 2019, 6:31 pm

        Thanks Larrick, I think??

        What the heck! I’ve made TWO last minute changes. I’ve booted out Morkov in Band 3, who might get a Top 20 as last lead out for Viviani, he has done so most recently. So he would have got me 3 pts but more likely 1pt for Top40 as an earlier lead out. So 33 year old SCHAR it is! A complete ‘Hail Mary Pass’ but he has had 3 Top40s so far. Perhaps he will lead out GVA and/or be in an early breakaway over the two Cat 4s, giving 2.5 & 1.5pts for the leading 2. Then as I wrote 5pts down to 1 for 11th to 15th in the Inter. But its a crap shoot.

        I risk dropping from 10th Globally to maybe 15th. But if he comes good I’ll really move up in my various 10 ‘Pools’ of 30 to 113 pickers or ‘Brus’.

        My other switch was from Viviani to Groenewegen, seeing as you think the Int Sprint won’t be a factor (usually!). He should ride the pave better due to added weight & better traction over ‘almost pick’ Ewan. Not many cobbles in Oz compared to The Netherlands either!

        Perhaps I’ll be punished by the ‘Superbru Gods’ for seeking ‘Outside Assistance’ & trying to be too clever. But thanks for the ‘inrng hand-sling’!


        • Larrick Monday, 29 July 2019, 2:44 am

          Sorry about that. Schar was one of the first to attack but all too early. Burned himself out by the time Scully and Fraile went.

          Shame you didn’t think Richeze instead of Morkov!

  • Ken Sunday, 28 July 2019, 7:28 pm

    Bernal was clearly the strongest GC rider in the end, and fully deserves his yellow jersey. But, I wonder if fiercer competitors like Merckx or a certain Lance-who-shall-not-be-named wouldn’t have chased down Nibili as a matter of pride.

  • Chuffy Sunday, 28 July 2019, 7:54 pm

    Were Ineos weak, relative to their previous performances or have teams like JV stepped up a gear? Discuss…

    • cp Sunday, 28 July 2019, 7:56 pm

      This was my thought this a.m. on my ride.
      A bit of both?

      Thanks mssr Inrng for another interesting TdF commentary.

    • jerome Monday, 29 July 2019, 1:52 am

      Alright ill bite, having finished 1-2 its hard to mount a case for genuine squad weakness but stage by stage they did lack the traditional climbing train they have employed in recent years. I think the 8 rider teams made a difference and that their climbing depth (riders ranked 3-5, considering you will always need a few rouleurs for the flat stages) beyond poels in this specific squad was less strong than previous years.

  • Irungo txuletak Sunday, 28 July 2019, 8:01 pm

    Happy to see that they are things who does not change years after years.
    I was afraid after the Giro, I thougt it was the revolution, but no, the tour put things in their place back again: movistar is still good old movistar.

  • GC hopeful Sunday, 28 July 2019, 9:37 pm

    The first Sky/Ineos TDF winner that didnt require a magical transformation to win.

    • Adrian Holman Monday, 29 July 2019, 2:14 pm

      I think the fact that so far I am the only person to reply to this comment shows how exceptionally tiresome such comments have become to readers of this blog! Let’s stick to thoughtful, interesting, reasoned and balanced comments on INRNG!

  • Race-watcher Monday, 29 July 2019, 11:45 am

    Like Sho Hatsuyama at the Giro, Alaphilippe was left out there dangling in the lead just long enough until Ineos finally let Bernal off the leash. If Bernal had attacked in the Pyrennes then he might have exposed a weaker Ineos team (where were Kwia & Moscon?) or possibly have won the Tour by 5 minutes.

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 29 July 2019, 11:49 am

      Only Bernal was dropped in the Pyrenees twice by Pinot. I think he was at his limits rather than sitting back and waiting for the right moment.

      • Anonymous Monday, 29 July 2019, 1:07 pm

        I vaguely recall hearing/reading that he said that he made a conscious decision to ease off ‘because of his numbers’, or something to that effect(?). That could mean he was scared of cracking any second… or that he was thinking ahead. (Or both.)