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Tour Stage 20 Preview: Alpine Trilogy, Part 3 - An Ending and a Continuation

Albertville - Val Thorens (59 km)

106th Tour de France 2019 - Stage 19 Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

So we come to this. The last chance to win the Tour. We come to the end of the Alps and the end of the mountains but we continue the scourge of extreme weather-affected stages and, it looks like, the reign of Ineos. Bernal put his stamp on proceedings today before the weather put an end to them and now looks set to win the Tour de France. My thoughts on the neutralisation are that the situation was unfair to everyone and there was no way of making it fair: they had no way to time the crossings at any point other than the top of the Iseran so they had to take the times from there or take none at all. Bernal had done damage so this seems like the ‘least worst’ scenario but there was a lot of road to race so Kruijswijk and others behind him have a right to feel aggrieved.

Amy’s Wine of the Day

I’m aggrieved about what has happened to stage twenty. I need a drink to get over it. Amy?

Stage 20: Domaine Dupasquier Rousette de Savoie Altesse
Hey, didn’t we just have a wine from these guys? Indeed, but as I said yesterday, I’m a fan. So let’s learn about the grape. Janic Robinson tells me that it is another name for Savoie’s Roussette. And Rousette, well, she says: Fine Savoie speciality producing lively, crisp but scented wines. Roussette de Savoie has its own appellation in four communes, most notably Frangy. If followed by the name of a commune on the label the wine will be made exclusively of Roussette; if not, Chardonnay may constitute up to 50% of the wine.

The Parcours

The Cormet de Roselend has been removed from the stage after another mudslide so essentially this is the world’s longest uphill sprint to Val Thorens: wow the Alpine stages have been decaffeinated. We had a downhill finish, a neutralised stage and a short stage on a mountain with a gradient that’s more than manageable. Here’s the profile:

It’s not a bad climb for riding tempo as Ineos will now no doubt do with a rejuvenated Poels. There are no obvious places to attack. The fact that it’s a very short stage probably won’t change much: so what if people try to attack really early? They’re still attacking on the final climb. A final climb on which Sky will have an almost full, fresh mountain train.

Jersey (And Podium) Watch

Bernal looks destined to win the Tour. Now Pinot is gone, he is now in Ineos’ comfortable position: leading, as the best climber and on the strongest team. I’d like to think Kruijswijk will throw everything at him but more prosaically a Tour de France podium is a very big deal and not something the Dutchman will want to risk losing, assuming he can gap Alaphilippe. Everyone may fall into a sort of defence mode as we have seen on final stages in the past with Bernal-Thomas-Kruijswijk the likely podium. Alaphilippe has lost the jersey and will probably now lose the podium on a thirty-three kilometre climb: far from his strength. The mountains classement is still up for grabs and with a stage win Bernal will take it. The same goes for any of the current top six. White is obviously Bernal’s and green obviously Sagan’s.

Who Wins?

I can’t look past Bernal. He missed out on his stage win today and will be looking for one to put a gloss on his Tour. He’s the best climber. Add to that that there isn’t much chance of a breakaway win (when are they getting a gap) and it seems almost a fait accompli.