26/07/19 - 12:55
Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - Col de l'Iseran
Tour de France • Stage19

Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne - Col de l'Iseran

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Confusion still reigns and it will take a while before we get confirmation of the outcome of today's stage. I don't think there could have been any doubt to the decision to neutralise the stage - but now it remains to be seen what the race organisers do going forward with regards to the stage, the result, the times and the GC. We'll call it a day here on the live blog but be sure to keep checking the website for updates - and we'll see you again tomorrow for the final stage in the Alps, the 130km ride from Albertville to Val Thorens.


And some of the earlier scenes...


Here's why the stage was cancelled... well, one of the main reasons...


This one is going to rumble on... there are some who claim the stage has to be completely re-run or cancelled altogether...


The moment Julian Alaphilippe learnt of the decision to neutralise the stage...


Also, there's a school of thought that takes the line that, although he's understandably angry now, Julian Alaphilippe may be one of the major beneficiaries of that neutralisation. Yes, he's out of yellow, but perhaps his losses would have been bigger had the race gone all the way to the finish. This way, he can still target a podium finish in Paris.


The voice of reason...


We're waiting to see the official confirmation of today's stage - curtailed at the top of the Iseran - and the rejigged top 10. But we know that Alaphilippe is out of yellow and Bernal is the new leader with one mountain stage to go.


Rigoberto Uran is one of the angriest riders at that decision to neutralise the stage - but I'm not sure he's fully aware of what is going on up the road on the final climb. Julian Alaphilippe is very down - he'll have hoped that the stage would have been neutralised at the foot of the climb so that he had more time to fight back on the descent. It's a sorry way for his reign in yellow to end. Thomas, meanwhile, is being consoled by Prudhomme, because the defence of his own Tour crown was badly hit by the decision, too.


Confirmation of today's big news...


Now the rain starts to fall as Bernal, the white jersey who is about to be yellow, starts to don his jacket as he soft-pedals into Val d'Isere.


Apparently it's not only the hail but there's been a landslide which has blocked the road. I don't know if this picture is authentic, but if so, that's incredible.


This is why the stage had been cancelled...


Tempers rising... the riders are still descending even though they stage has been neutralised...


Simon Yates is currently in a heated debate with Christian Prudhomme in the race director's car. They don't understand what is going on because, where they are, the weather is fine. They can't see, nor can they comprehend, that the road to the finish has been blocked.


No one knows what is going on. The riders are being told to stop. Alaphilippe is livid because the GC times are going to be taken at the top of the Col de l'Iseran. He thinks he's lost the Tour.




Will Bernal rue dropping Yates and going alone? He has a long way to solo to the finish... but he's a phenomenal talent. I just have a terrible feeling that someone's going to overcook one of the bends while pushing it too much.


Over the top goes Egan Bernal to pocket the eight bonus seconds. The Thomas-Kruijswijk group go over 55 seconds down. Alaphilippe is over two minutes back. And the storm clouds are gathering on the horizon. This is going to be an epic finish...


Bernal drops Yates one kilometre from the finish - and remember, there are time bonuses on the summit, too!


Bernal and Yates have dropped Uran and Barguil.


Nibali has been dropped by the leaders. He'll be caught by the chasers - Thomas, Kruijswijk, De Plus and Buchmann - soon.


Bernal drives the leaders with Barguil, Nibali, Uran and Yates in his wheel. They have 1'05" on the yellow jersey, who can descend like a demon and so will make up time on the long drop to the foot of the final climb. But he has to limit his losses here otherwise it will be too much.


Quintana and Bardet, meanwhile, are riding on their own and behind the Alaphilippe group, their efforts from yesterday clearly catching up with them.


Bernal is with Uran, Yates and Nibali. They catch the remaining rider form the break - Barguil - and so we have five riders out ahead 4km from the summit. Alaphilippe is 35 seconds back, with the Thomas-Kruijswijk-Buchmann group in between.


The break has been reeled in because of these accelerations - and now it's Bernal who rides clear, joining forces with Yates and Nibali from ther break. Thomas sticks with Buchmann and Kruijswijk behind, while Alaphilippe is with Guillaume Martin, Ciccone - or is it Porte? - and a Movistar rider. Everyone is all over the road.


Thomas's move comes to nothing and Steven Kruijswijk is next to put in a dig! The Dutchman rides clear with Thomas, with Buchmann in pursuit. Bernal sticks with Alaphilippe before riding clear himself - and ALAPHILIPPE HAS BEEN DROPPED!


ATTACK FROM THOMAS! The Welshman makes the first move and rides clear of the yellow jersey group.


The gap is down to just 30 seconds now for the leaders, who have dropped Reichenbach, Lutsenko, Woods and Ciccone. Back down the road, Alaphilippe is now isolated after QuickStep teammate Enric Mas is distanced.


Just 14 riders left in the lead group: Uran, Valverde, Barguil, G. Martin, Reichenbach, Lutsenko, De Plus, Woods, Ciccone, Nibali, Caruso, S. Yates, Amador, Cort.


Bardet is on the back of the main pack, which only has around a dozen riders now. He's with Gaudu - what a story it would be if the Frenchman won in his teammate's absence. Kruijswijk is near the back, too. The break only has 1'15". Italians Ciccone, Nibali and Caruso are driving the pace.


Bardet, the polka dot jersey, has fought back to the yellow jersey group after being dropped early in the stage. But his jersey is under threat from Caruso, up the road in that break. Frank is reeled in.


Mathias Frank has attacked the Ineos-led main pack. It's Castroviejo setting tempo ahead of Dutch duo Poels and Van Baarle, with co-leaders Thomas and Bernal behind and watched by Alaphilippe. Castroviejo then swings off, his work done. Van Baarle takes it up - he was in the break, but stopped for a pee while waiting for his leaders. Dan Martin has been dropped from the break.


Meanwhile, in Tignes...


The break is onto the highest climb of the Tour and the highest paved pass of the Alps, the Cat.HC Col de l'Iseran (12.9km at 7.5%). Can we expect fireworks in the battle for yellow? I hope so...


The highest paved pass in the Alps is coming right up. We sent Juan Antonio Flecha up there on a recon ride...

Video - ‘Like crossing a desert’ – Flecha struggles with altitude on brutal Col de l'Iseran


It's Alexey Lutsenko who wins the intermediate sprint ahead of Tony Gallopin. Back with the pack and it's still Castroviejo who sets the tempo. Wout Poels is back with Thomas and Bernal, but both Moscon and Kwiatkowski have been dropped early on today for Ineos.


Aru, De Gendt and Gesbert are trying to rejoin the leading group of 21 riders ahead of the intermediate sprint at Bessans. The pack is at 1'55".


It's Caruso who once again takes maximum points over the top of this climb ahead of his Bahrain Merida teammate Nibali - and his raid on the polka dot jersey gets another 3-point lift. The pack is still 1'45" down. The Col d'Iseran coming up.


Aru and Bettiol have also been dropped by the break, Bauke Mollema too. The gap back to the yellow jersey group, meanwhile, has grown to 1'45".


We're now onto the third categorised climb, the Cat.3 Col de la Madeleine (3.9km at 5.6%).


According to L'Equipe, Pinot has been suffering with a "vast internal muscle tear". We have no idea where or when he picked up the injury but he clearly couldn't continue riding today. Groupama-FDJ have confirmed this.


And the moment a tearful Pinot got into his team car...


Kreuziger, De Gendt and Gesbert have been dropped by the break while Soler has voluntarily dropped back to the pack to help Quintana and Landa. Movistar still have Valverde and Verona up the road in the break.


We're approaching the half-way point of today's stage and it's still all in the balance with that large break just 55 seconds ahead of a chasing pack that is deprived of Thibaut Pinot, the Frenchman who was in fifth place this morning, who had withdrawn in emotional circumstances with a muscular tear on his left leg.


If you're just joining us, here's the big news...

Video - 'He's in big trouble' - Tour hopeful Pinot receives treatment for knee injury


Magnus Cort Nielsen has zipped clear of the break. The Dane on a one-man mission to save Astana's Tour following Jakob Fuglsang's withdrawal a few days ago. Matthews, meanwhile, has been caught by the pack.


Australia's Matthews has been dropped by the break. The gap back to the peloton is still just above the minute mark.


Deceuninck-QuickStep have come to the front of the pack to pace their man Alaphilippe on this descent ahead of the gradual rise to the foot of the next climb. They have no-one in the break but will be wary of Uran up the road, as well as those three riders for Movistar. Right, I need to get some lunch. Back in 5.


What a hectic - and emotional - start to the stage. Meanwhile, the leaders still only have 50 seconds. The 29 riders are: Dylan van Baarle (Ineos), Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hasngrohe), Tony Gallopin (AG2R-La Mondiale), Vincenzo Nibali and Damiano Caruso (Bahrain-Merida), Sébastien Reichenbach (Groupama-FDJ), Alejandro Valverde, Marc Soler and Andrey Amador (Movistar), Pello Bilbao, Gorka Izagirre, Magnus Cort and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana), Laurens De Plus (Jumbo-Visma), Rigoberto Uran, Alberto Bettiol and Michael Woods (EF Education First), Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott), Dan Martin and Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates), Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), Jesus Herrada (Cofidis), Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Roman Kreuziger (Dimension Data), Warren Barguil and Elie Gesbert (Arkéa-Samsic).


Heartbreak for Thibaut Pinot who stops on the side of the road in tears, gets off his bike and goes straight into the Groupama-FDJ team car. Such a cruel way to end his Tour. He was in fifth place and very much one of the contenders to take the yellow jersey today.


The peloton goes over one minute down. Ineos are down to just Jonathan Castroviejo on the front for Thomas and Bernal - but they do have Dylan Van Baarle up the road in the break.


This super group is approaching the summit and it's Damiano Caruso who zips clear ahead of Tony Gallopin and takes the 5pts. The Italian was in third place in the polka dot jersey standings this morning on 60pts - 26 down on Bardet, who isn't in this break, and so he could take the polka dot jersey if he rides cannily today. Gallopin doing his best to spoil that for Caruso for his teammate Bardet, but didn't have the zip.


The four leaders have been reeled in by a large move off the front - so we have around 25 riders around 50 seconds ahead. The likes of Valverde, Uran, Barguil, Aru, Ciccone, Amador, Simon Yates and the original leading quartet are all there.


Thibaut Pinot has completely cracked. We'd heard that he was in trouble with some kind of injury - and now the Frenchman has stopped. He was passed by teammates who didn't stop and just patted him on the back - which suggests that the team has given up on him. He's already minutes back. What is wrong with Pinot? He could have become France's first Tour winner since 1986 but instead he's going to be another DNF. Will he ever finish another Tour? He hasn't got to Paris since 2015.


Meanwhile, we're onto the second climb of the day, the Cat.2 Montee d'Aussois (6.5km at 6.2%).


PINOT IN TROUBLE! The Frenchman is back with the race doctor and receiving treatment to his left leg. The doctor has cut part of his bib shorts away and is being given a dressing to his leg above the knee. Some spray is being applied too.


Those counter attacks came to nothing but the main yellow jersey pack is already down to around 40 riders and is being driven by EF Education First. The gap is 50 seconds for the quartet.


Rigoberto Uran is now trying his luck in pursuit of the break and Alejandro Valverde is trying to bridge over, as is Enric Mas of QuickStep.


CRASH: Matej Mohoric and Sergio Henao hit the deck on a hairpin bend on the descent. Both riders are back on their bikes.


Some big-name casualties on the first climb with David Gaudu, Rein Taaramäe and the polka dot jersey Romain Bardet all dropped near the top...


It's Dan Martin who leads the break over the summit in pole position. Behind, a quartet is chasing with Wellens, a Movistar rider, Patrick Konrad and perhaps Woods in pink. Barguil was reeled in - and Valverde, apparently, has had a dig. It's all happening.


Riders are being shelled out left, right and centre - but primarily backwards. Still the quartet out ahead only have 16 seconds.


Aru is reeled in and now we have the French national champion Warren Barguil on the attack with a rider from Ag2R-La Mondiale. It's Gallopin. Barguil is knocking on the door of the top 10 down in 12th place at 7'47".


We're onto the first climb of the day, the Cat.3 Cote de Saint-Andre (3.1km at 6.8%). Just 21 seconds for Martin, Nibali, Herrada and Bilbao. Aru in pursuit just ahead of the strung-out peloton.


It's full gas as the race heads up the Maurienne valley with the peloton all strung out over around 400m. The gap for the four leaders is down to 25 seconds after the chase group was brought back. I'm not sure how Martin will feel about Fabio Aru counter attacking behind and sparking a response from the front of the pack...


It's far from settled with Movistar and Ineos both quite active on the front of the pack. Michal Kwiatkowski, who has had a rotten race, tried to ping off in pursuit of the chasers, but it came to nothing. Fabio Aru is having a go now ahead of the first categorised climb.


Politt and Rosskopf have been joined by that chaser, Sicard, and five others: Perichon, King, Gesbert, Verona and Haga.


If you haven't yet seen this video from the Galibier, then thank me later...


The chasing duo are 27 seconds down on the leaders. Movistar tried a counter but it came to nothing and now it's the turn of Total-Direct Energie - one of 12 teams yet to win a stage on the race.


Nils Politt and Joey Rosskopf are trying to bridge over to the four leaders, whose gap grows to 38 seconds.


Personally, I can't help but think there's a sense of finality with all these lion pictures... it's as if Alaphilippe and his team are squeezing out the last drop of blood from these cuddly toys knowing that, well, there may be no more heading towards the team bus after today.


Julian Alaphilippe riding his 15th day in yellow - that's a lot of lions...


We have a break de-luxe of Vincenzo Nibali, Pello Bilbao, Dan Martin and birthday boy Jesus Herrada with a 15-second gap on the pack now - but many are trying to bridge over, which could spell the end for this. Nibali and Martin have had very poor Tours by their standards. Could today bring some salvation, as it did yesterday for Quintana?


Already, the lanterne rouge Yoann Offredo is off the back for Wanty-Gobert. It's going to be a long day for him. The Frenchman is three hours 49 minutes and 52 seconds behind Alaphilippe - in short, an entire stage (today's ride should take around the same time in all fairness).


We've already covered yellow, while the green jersey is something of a formality as Peter Sagan closes in on a record seventh title in eight years. Bernal, after yesterday's stage, stretched his lead in the white jersey standings to 17'07" over David Gaudu, so he's a shoo-in for that (while having loftier, yellower ambitions to boot). We still have a battle for polka dots, though, with Romain Bardet yesterday seizing the jersey from the long-standing wearer, Tim Wellens. The Belgian trails the Frenchman by 12pts with 59 KOM points up for grabs today.


It's now Marc Soler of Movistar who's on the front of the strung-out peloton. Austrian champion Patrick Konrad is there - which is promising, for perhaps he could act as a foil for Bora teammate Emanuel Buchmann further up the road, just as Soler could for any one of Movistar's top 10 riders.


The road goes uphill from the gun on a small uncategorised hill. Michael Woods of EF Education First is driving the pace with Rui Costa of UAE Team Emirates right behind.


They're off! Today's key stage is under way...


Here's what on the menu today... What Stage 19 lacks in length it makes up for in vertical gain with five categorised climbs on the menu, including the highest point in the race, the 2,770m Col d’Iseran. With time running out to dislodge Alaphilippe from the race summit, the 126.5km stage could prove a decisive day in the battle for yellow as the Frenchman’s rivals look to put him under pressure before the final, relatively gentle ascent into Tignes.

Stage 19 profile, 2019 Tour de France

The remaining 165 riders are currently pedalling out of the start town of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne in the neutral zone of today's decisive stage. It's a hot day with the sun out and a temperature of 32 degrees - but thunderstorms are expected for the finish in Tignes...


And the rumours were hearing from Ineos insiders is that - while Dave Brailsford says he'd be happy if either Thomas or Bernal wins, provided one of them does - the team are backing Bernal over this final weekend. If true, that's big news. Will the defending champion accept that, or does he still have a say in this year's race - surely his final chance to win the Tour (again) what with Chris Froome's expected comeback and Bernal's continued progression...


Here's how things are on GC with Alaphilippe's nearest challenger now Egan Bernal, who is 1'30" down. The next four riders - Thomas, Kruijswijk, Pinot and Buchmann - are within 44 seconds, while Nairo Quintana is up to seventh place and lurking with his Movistar teammates Landa and Valverde, who sandwich another Colombian in Uran.


So, today's the day, with three leg-warming lower-category climbs ahead of the highest point of the Tour - the Col d'Iseran - a fast descent towards Val d'Isere, and then a gradual final Cat.1 climb to Tignes. It's only 126.5km but it's going to be action-packed and offensive from the outset.


Bonjour le Tour! Hello and welcome to live coverage of Julian Alaphilippe's second day of destiny as the Frenchman bids to defend his yellow jersey from Egan Bernal et al in Stage 19 of the Tour de France...