Vincenzo Nibali won the shortened final mountain stage of this year’s Tour de France, while Egan Bernal rode steadily to maintain his overall lead and effectively become the first-ever Colombian to win the Tour.
The decision to truncate Stage 20 was made as a precaution shortly after the chaotic finish of yesterday’s stage, which was nullified when hailstorms flooded the roadways and triggered a mudslide that blocked off the route. The decision cut 71 kilometers and two major climbs (plus their descents) out of the itinerary for today, paring the stage down to just 59 kilometers from Albertville, along the valley floor, and then up the 34-kilometer, beyond-category climb to Val Thorens.
Predictably, the action started as soon as the stage got underway. Several breakaway groups formed across the wide motorway, but by the time they hit the foothill of the climb, it was a single group of around 25 riders, with an advantage of two minutes over the group containing Bernal and the other favorites for overall victory.
With 11 kilometers still to climb, Nibali lit off from what had become a small group of just himself, Michael Woods, Tony Gallopin, and Ilnur Zakarin. Woods tried to follow but appeared to go into the red quite quickly and nearly came to a standstill.
Meanwhile, the group of favorites – led for most of the climb by the Jumbo-Visma team of Steven Kruijswijk – set a steady fast pace that quickly began to shed lesser riders. With 13 kilometers to go, they had achieved their goal for the day: dropping 14-day race leader Julian Alaphilippe, who had started the stage in second place. The growing gap soon meant that Geraint Thomas would move into second place, and Kruijswijk would move into third. From that point on, there was almost zero action among the favorites, none of whom dared risking the positions they had just achieved.
The Bernal group did, however, begin to eat into the gap behind Nibali in the final kilometer, but the Sicilian – one of only two current riders to have won all three Grand Tours – held on for the win. Alejandro Valverde made a dash for second (challenging the assumption that he rides poorly at high elevation), and teammates Bernal and Thomas crossed the line together with hands clasped 17 seconds behind the winner.
Alaphilippe, meanwhile, fought all the way to the finish but conceded three minutes and seventeen seconds on the day. He now drops from second place overall to fifth.
Tomorrow the riders will depart from Rambouillet for a 127-kilometer ride to Paris that will begin with ceremonial champagne but will end in nine laps of the famed Champs-Elysées, where the sprinters will have one last chance for victory before this Tour de France comes to an end.
|3||Mikel Landa Meana||+00:00:14|
|4||Egan Arley Bernal Gomez||+00:00:17|
|6||Rigoberto Uran Uran||+00:00:23|
|10||Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas||+00:00:30|
|1||Egan Arley Bernal Gomez||79:52:52|
|6||Mikel Landa Meana||+00:04:23|
|7||Rigoberto Uran Uran||+00:05:15|
|8||Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas||+00:05:30|