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Stage 19 of the Tour de France has ended in dramatic fashion with racing called to a halt due to a landslide plus ice and snow on the road.
General Classification times were taken at the top of the Col de l’Iseran, putting Egan Bernal into the yellow jersey ahead of Julian Alaphilippe and Geraint Thomas. No stage win was awarded.
With roughly 30km to go in the stage, as race leaders Bernal and Simon Yates descended off the Col de l’Iseran towards the final climb of the day, race organisers made the decision to call off the race. While the riders were descending on dry roads, lower down the slopes a storm had dumped ice and snow on the road. Helicopter images showed snowploughs working feverishly to clear the road before the riders arrived. Footage later emerged of a landslide covering the roadway as well.
The decision to neutralise the stage came through to riders via race radio but in the confusion, some riders initially refused to believe the news and subsequently continued racing. Yates was seen remonstrating with race director Christian Prudhomme on the descent, seemingly complaining about the decision to neutralise the stage. Behind them, race leader Alaphilippe was also visibly frustrated at the decision.
Organisers announced over race radio that times would be taken at the top of the Col de l’Iseran. At that point, Egan Bernal was away solo, having attacked roughly 5km from the top of the climb. By the summit, his lead over erstwhile leader Julian Alaphilippe was in the vicinity of two minutes — enough to take the virtual lead.
Provisional top five after stage 19
1. Egan Bernal
2. Julian Alaphilippe, at 45’’
3. Geraint Thomas, at 1’3’’
4. Steven Kruijswijk, at 1’15’’
5. Emanuel Buchmann, at 1’42’’
More to come…