Egan Bernal fought through hail to storm into the lead after Stage 19 of the Tour de France Friday. The Colombian cyclist started the day 90 seconds behind Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe, but looked to be two minutes ahead before race organizers halted the stage due to the weather.
Cycling Weekly clarified that Bernal now leads Alaphilippe by 48 seconds in the overall standings after race officials withdrew sporting points “except the KOM standings at the finish in Val Thorens.” No stage winner was announced due to the weather.
Peter Scrivener of BBC reported that Bernal was 20km away from the finish, but that the hail on the Alps made the remainder of the stage impassable:
A localised storm in Val d’Isere forced race organisers to halt the stage and a statement said times would be “frozen” at the top of the day’s previous climb.
The inclement conditions, including landslides, have forced a modified route for Stage 20, which will start at 7:25 a.m. Eastern time on NBCSN in the United States. The Tour de France Twitter page posted the updated route:
“After taking off from Albertville, the stage will go on the N90 road to head directly to Moutiers and then go on the initial end of stage at the N90 – D915 roundabout, 36kms from the finish. The start will be given in Albertville at 14:30 for a total distance of 59kms,” the announcement read.
Despite the alternative route, it will still be hard for anyone to catch the surging Bernal. Even Alaphilippe has admitted that his Colombian opponent is simply stronger on the uphill climbs, which will still be in play over the next 59km.
“I don’t think it is possible,” said Alaphilippe when asked if he could regain the yellow jersey. “I have been beaten by something that is stronger than me, that’s how it is.
“I have no regrets. It was a dream to wear it, I carried this dream longer than I had hoped and I beat myself up every day to keep a hold of it. From the moment I took hold of the yellow jersey I dreamed but I never thought I could win the Tour.”
This likely eliminates the chance a Frenchman wins the Tour the first time since Bernard Hinault in 1985. Bernal would be the first South American winner.