Egan Bernal wins 2019 Tour de France to send Colombia wild


On the Champs-Elysees fittingly bathed in the yellow of a golden dusk, a Tour de France for the ages crowned a champion of an unusually young age on Sunday: 22-year-old Egan Bernal, South America’s first winner of cycling’s greatest race.

“I cannot believe it. It’s just incredible. I am sorry. I have no words,” Bernal said through a translator. “I still can’t understand what is happening to me.”

The youngest champion of the post-World War II era, the slightly built Colombian with a killer instinct on the road, proved to be the strongest of the 176 strong men who roared off from the start in Brussels, Belgium, on July 6 on their 3,366-kilometer (2,092-mile) odyssey that delivered the most absorbing, drama-packed Tour in decades and a new cycling superstar in the making: Bernal.

Riding a yellow bike, and cheered by Colombian fans who were partying even before he sped up the famous avenue, Bernal crossed the line with his teammate Geraint Thomas, the 2018 champion who this year finished second. Steven Kruijswijk completed what Tour organizers said was the tightest podium in the 116-year history of the race, with just 1 minute, 31 seconds separating the first and third places after three weeks of racing.

The 21st and final stage was won in a sprint finish on the Champs-Elysees by Caleb Ewan, the dominant sprinter of this Tour with three stage wins. Keeping with race tradition on its final day, the 155 riders who survived the Tour rode at a pedestrian pace and in a joyful atmosphere before hitting the Champs-Elysees. Bernal chatted with Julian Alaphilippe and raised a glass of champagne as he rode.

Speaking in French before the start, Bernal thanked “France for organizing the most beautiful race in the world, and the most beautiful victory of my life.”

While Colombia celebrated its new national hero, the millions of French fans who had lined the roads through east, central and southern France, and up into the thinning air of the Pyrenees and Alps, were ruing a bitter-sweet Tour.

“Julian Alaphilippe made us dream,” said Celestin Simon, a Parisian who cheered his hero on the Champs-Elysees in a pointy hat of French red, white and blue. “Unfortunately, there’s no victory at the end.”

Bernal flew up the Tour’s highest climb, the dizzying Iseran pass at 2,770 meters (9,088-feet) above sea level, demolishing what remained of Alaphilippe’s lead on Stage 19 and building a sizeable one of his own.

The watch was then stopped, with Bernal way ahead, when the hailstorm suddenly coated the route with ice, amid fears that riders on tires barely wider than their thumbs could skid off into the rock- and ravine-scarred Alpine décor.

And that was that. The Tour that had been careening to a rock ‘n’ roll finish instead had the plug pulled on it. Landslides also truncated the last Alpine Stage 20, which still proved too long for the by-now exhausted Alaphilippe, who slipped off the podium entirely, despite getting words of encouragement in a call the previous night from French President Emmanuel Macron.

Thomas used the last Alpine climb to secure himself the runner-up spot in Paris, giving the Ineos team a podium 1-2 with Bernal. Third-placed Steven Kruijswijk pulled off the feat of being wholly unremarkable during the three weeks, while Alaphilippe, Pinot and Bernal and others rocked. Quite remarkably, none of the top four riders won a stage. Alaphilippe, in fifth, won two.

“I left my skin on the road these past weeks,” Alaphilippe told L’Equipe.

But instead of a red-white-and-blue celebration, Paris was instead being painted in Colombian red, blue and yellow.

Tour de France 2019 – stage 21 results (Rambouillet – Paris):

1 Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal)


2 Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma)


3 Niccolò Bonifazio (Total Direct Energie)


4 Maximiliano Richeze (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)


5 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data)


6 André Greipel (Arkéa Samsic)


7 Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott)


8 Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo)


9 Nikias Arndt (Team Sunweb)


10 Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe)


11 Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida)


12 Marco Haller (Katusha-Alpecin)


13 Andrea Pasqualon (Wanty-Gobert)


14 Julien Simon (Cofidis)


15 Hugo Houle (Astana)


16 Jens Debusschere (Katusha-Alpecin)


17 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)


18 Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)


19 William Bonnet (Groupama-FDJ)


20 Sven Erik Bystrøm (UAE Team Emirates)


Tour de France 2019 – final general classification:

1 Egan Bernal (Team Ineos)


2 Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos)


3 Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma)


4 Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-hansgrohe)


5 Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step)


6 Mikel Landa (Movistar)


7 Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First)


8 Nairo Quintana (Movistar)


9 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)


10 Warren Barguil (Arkéa Samsic)


11 Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo)


12 Guillaume Martin (Wanty-Gobert)


13 David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ)


14 Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates)


15 Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale)


16 Roman Kreuziger (Dimension Data)


17 Sébastien Reichenbach (Groupama-FDJ)


18 Daniel Martin (UAE Team Emirates)


19 Alexey Lutsenko (Astana)


20 Jesus Herrada (Cofidis)



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