• France's Julian Alaphilippe, wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey jokes as he is carried on the back of his teammate Enric Mas (Getty)Source: Getty
In an unprecedented move, Stage 19 of the Tour de France was called of mid-race. With riders all over the road and still over 30 kilometres to race, Jamie Finch-Penninger looks at who were the biggest beneficiaries and the most disadvantaged by the decision.
By
Jamie Finch-Penninger

27 Jul 2019 - 4:29 AM  UPDATED 27 Jul 2019 - 9:27 AM

There's normally a certainty to sporting events that doesn't occur in other walks of life. There's a winner and a loser at the end of the day, we all know who won. 

Occasionally, there's a contentious refereeing call, but that won't change the end result. So it was a shock to the system once Stage 19 of the Tour de France ended with the shrugging of shoulders and talks between officials and riders.

What we knew was that times had been taken at the summit of the Col de L'Iseran, the location of the Henri Desgranges award -the highest point of the Tour de France. 

It was clear that Egan Bernal would move into yellow... but by how much? Would Bernal win the stage as well and get that time bonus? 

Well, there were winners and losers from what was one of the most dramatic stages in memory.

SBS TV Stage 20 coverage begins at 8:30pm AEST with a replay of Stage 19 before our live broadcast at 10pm. The shortened racing will start at 10:30pm AEST on SBS, SBS OnDemand and the SKODA Tour Tracker.

The moment race radio called off Stage 19

Winners

Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), 2nd overall, + '48 

It seems strange to call Alaphilippe a winner on a stage where he lost over two minutes to Bernal and the yellow jersey, but the former leader of the race stood to lose a lot more time than that over the rest of the stage. There was still over 30 kilometres to go and the prodigious Alaphilippe had only made gains of a few seconds to Bernal on the descent.

The gap would have continued to grow on the flat and the next climb with Alaphilippe isolated. The Frenchman would have almost definitely been off the podium as a well-organised group containing Thomas and Kruijswijk would have continued to distance the Deceuninck-QuickStep rider as well.

Alaphilippe was all class at the impromptu stage finish, talking and celebrating with fans after a tough day in the saddle and with what must have been an odd feeling of anticlimax.

He's still counting his deficit to Bernal in seconds rather than minutes and who knows, maybe he can pull off a great comeback tomorrow on an easier stage?

Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) Yellow Jersey

He was incredibly strong on the Col de L'Iseran and looked for no one for help as he powered clear. He even appeared slightly disappointed by the decision to stop the race and maybe if it had continued he'd hold an even more commanding lead. He also didn't get the stage win.

However, the decision to stop the race put Bernal in the yellow jersey. That's a massive win. 

Ask Michael Rogers what can happen to you when you're in virtual yellow and descending of a climb. He crashed during the 2007 Tour when in virtual yellow and never reached that height again. 

The decision to halt the race perhaps saved Bernal from crashing, running out of energy dramatically or being caught by an organised chase of Jumbo-Visma from behind. He's now in pole position to take his and Colombia's first Tour de France win.

Losers

Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) 4th overall,  + 1'28 

A bit less than a minute behind Bernal, a group of seven riders were forming together over the top of the Col de L'Iseran. The only one with a team-mate left in the race was Kruijswijk who had trusted lieutenant Laurens De Plus on a barnstorming day where he had set a pace that the majority of the GC candidates couldn't follow. 

De Plus would have been invaluable in the valley between the penultimate and final climbs and may have well reduced Bernal's advantage while Kruijswijk saved energy for a final surge up the Montee de Tignes.

It seems unlikely that Bernal would have gained much more time, with the deficit shrinking as the Colombian tired the more likely scenario.

Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) 3rd overall, + 1'16

Thomas stays in third overall and his team-mate is in yellow, but Thomas will no doubt be wondering what would have happened on the final climb.

He would have been the recipient of an armchair ride to the final challenge of the stage, allowing him to save energy to move himself up the rankings, most likely to second overall, but perhaps to the lead if Bernal faltered.

Mikel Landa (Movistar), 6th overall, + 4'35

Landa has been the recipient of some pretty ordinary luck this race, particularly evident when he crashed during Stage 10 in a freak accident despite putting himself in perfect position in the front split. 

Again the Spaniard found himself on the wrong side of the dice roll as he tried to put himself and his Movistar team in a position of relevance in the race. He did gain one position on the general classification, but will have been eyeing up an Alaphilippe fall as a way to jump even higher on GC.

Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), Did not finish

It seems like an age has passed since the great French hope abandoned the race. Riding in tremendous form so far this race, a muscular lesion flared up in the early stages of Stage 19 leaving Pinot unable to pedal without incredible pain. 

Pinot was the favourite of many to win the race and would have certainly have given Bernal a run for his money if in full health.

The sight of the Groupama-FDJ man departing the race was one of the saddest sights of the race. Hopefully, for French fans, youngster David Gaudu can pick up the pieces with a stage win on the final day in the Alps.