Belfast Telegraph

Controversy as Bernal takes yellow jersey after hail chaos

 

Stage 19 of the Tour de France ended in chaos as an intense hailstorm and a landslide forced organisers to stop the race before the final climb
Stage 19 of the Tour de France ended in chaos as an intense hailstorm and a landslide forced organisers to stop the race before the final climb

By Ian Parker

Stage 19 of the Tour de France ended in chaos as an intense hailstorm and a landslide forced organisers to stop the race before the final climb.

Organisers declared that times would be taken from the top of the Col de l'Iseran, putting Team Ineos rider Egan Bernal into the yellow jersey after he crested the highest point of the Tour first after attacking out of the group of favourites on the 126.5km stage to Tignes.

Bernal had attacked after Geraint Thomas and Steven Kruijswijk made moves in what proved a successful bid to shake off Julian Alaphilippe.

Provisional results showed Bernal leading by 45 seconds from Alaphilippe, with Thomas a further 18 seconds back in third.

However, several teams were thought to be unhappy with the outcome and the results may take some time to become official.

Commissaries made the call to stop the race after the storms led to a landslide in the valley below Val-d'Isere, with the race route covered in rubble.

Bernal is now the favourite to be on the top step of the podium in Paris.

It was yet another dramatic twist in the Tour, hailed as the most exciting edition since 1989, and could well be a decisive one.

Bernal now needs only to survive one final mountain stage today before potentially celebrating his first Grand Tour victory in Paris tomorrow.

The 22-year-old would be the first Colombian to win the Tour and the youngest to succeed in the post-war era.

The neutralisation came as a huge blow to Thomas' hopes of defending his title. The Welshman may have hoped to bridge the gap to his team-mate in the final 30km but was denied that opportunity.

Thomas was seen talking to Tour director Christian Prudhomme in Val-d'Isere, but the Frenchman could only gesticulate that there was nothing he could do given the conditions of the road up ahead.

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