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Tour de France stage dramatically abandoned due to sudden hailstorm

Organisers were forced to neutralise stage 19 on Friday afternoon.

Updated Jul 26th 2019, 8:04 PM

TODAY’S STAGE OF the Tour de France has been dramatically abandoned after a sudden hailstorm forced organisers to neutralise the race mid-stage on safety grounds.

It means Egan Bernal of Team Ineo has taken the yellow jersey from home favourite Julian Alaphilippe in dramatic circumstances.

France Cycling Tour de France The stage was abandoned on safety grounds. Source: Thibault Camus

Bernal was leading atop the Col de l’Iseran when the race was called off, but although there is no stage winner, the times of the riders when the race was abandoned will still count, making Bernal the new overall leader.

Bernal attacked on the penultimate climb, and crossed the summit first with his team-mate and defending champion Geraint Thomas and title rival Steven Kruijswijk trailing around a minute behind. Overnight leader Alaphilippe was a further minute adrift.

As the riders started the descent, race organisers ended the stage with the road ahead buried in hail.

After the drama of Friday, Alaphilippe immediately ruled out any chance of wearing the yellow jersey when the race ends in Paris on Sunday.

“I don’t think it is possible, I have been beaten by something that is stronger than me, that’s how it is,” he told France 2.

Alaphilippe wore the yellow jersey for 14 days, carrying the hopes of the public who are so eager to see a French winner for the first time since Bernard Hinault in 1985 and defying the pundits who felt he would wilt in the Pyrenees.

In the end, it took a bold break from Bernal of Team Ineos to take it off his back.

“I expected it,” said Alaphilippe who is now 45 seconds off the lead. “I gave the maximum. 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.”

Bernal was leading the stage when it was stopped on the descent of L’Iseran.

Times for the stage were taken at the top of L’Iseran at which point the Colombian was over two minutes ahead of Alaphilippe on the stage.

The 22-year-old now looks the favourite to come through Saturday’s stage 20 and claim his first Tour win.  

© AFP 2019  

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