Published: Sun, July 28, 2019
Sport | By Ruben Hill

Thomas pledges to help Bernal after Tour hopes washed away by landslide

Thomas pledges to help Bernal after Tour hopes washed away by landslide

Ahead of Saturday's final trek in the Alps - the last competitive stage before a traditional processional ride to Paris - the 22-year-old Bernal is now in an ideal position to become the first Colombian to win cycling's biggest race. I fought, I didn't want to have any regrets, I'm very proud of my Tour this year.

The stage will have no official victor, but the yellow jersey goes to Bernal as he crossed the summit first and was racing downhill with Simon Yates when the pair were told of the danger ahead, the road to Tignes buried in hail and rubble.

NAIRO QUINTANA soloed to victory on stage 18 as Egan Bernal raced away from Ineos team-mate Geraint Thomas while they tried to shake off race leader Julian Alaphilippe on the Galibier.

Defending champion Thomas expressed his delight for Bernal after they all but secured a one-two, with Steven Kruijswijk third in the general classification and Julian Alaphilippe dropping to fifth behind Emanuel Buchmann.

Thomas suggested that the stage simply hadn't been hard enough to make Alaphilippe crack. "Tomorrow, I will do my best, but it still hasn't sunk in yet". Only 10 days earlier when I was one of the last team vehicles to leave the finish, I spotted someone in my rear vision mirror chasing me frantically down the road with a team Cofidis bike.

Alaphilippe seems unconquerable. After he was dropped on the climb, the Frenchman galvanized himself, limiting his losses before the crest, and then catching all his rivals, except Bernal, with a virtuoso descent, frequently adopting his "supertuck" aerodynamic downhill crouch to stunning effect.

The Colombian rider has a 45-second advantage over the Frenchman in the overall standings. 'We wanted it to be hard but the pace wasn't there, ' Thomas said.

Stage 19 of the Tour de France ended in chaos as hailstorms caused a landslide and forced organisers to stop the race before the final climb. Colombia is on the verge of winning its first Tour - I feel this is not only my triumph but the triumph of a whole country.

But after Froome's crash at the Criterium du Dauphine and Thomas' spill at the Tour de Suisse, Bernal was elevated to co-leader status and has repaid the faith shown in him.

"I nearly lost it on that stage", Bernal said after closing in on overall victory at Val Thorens, with only the final processional stage in Paris remaining.

"It's so far beyond what I imagined". "The call was made for Egan to go and hopefully that would kick if off a bit, but it didn't".

But he continues to confound even his own expectations.

The race is set to finish on Sunday in Paris.

The stage will have no official victor, but the yellow jersey goes to Bernal as he crossed the day's penultimate summit first and was racing downhill with Simon Yates when the pair were told of the danger ahead.

Some are arguing that the race could have continued, or at least resumed at a later time. "I work on time trials a lot".

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