In a shortened Stage 20 of the 2019 Tour de France, it was as if the whole preceding three weeks had been a dream, a beautiful dream. For today, it was business as usual with the longed-for attackity finale reverting to the hard tempo riding on the yellow jersey group that fans have had to suffer through for the previous six Tours. Once Julian Alaphilippe well and truly cracked on the climb, it felt like the riders were just going through the motions. Vincenzo Nibali‘s solo win atop the HC Val Thorens saved the Italian’s July and there was a frisson of excitement when he nearly ran out of steam in the final kilometre with a metronomic peloton on the chase, but was the only memorable thing about this stage was that … nothing really happened?
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) won Stage 18 of the 2019 Tour de France, attacking from the day’s break but the real story happened behind him. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) cracked near the summit of the final climb but regrouped and caught back up to his GC rivals on the descent. It could end up being a race-defining moment.
Bastille Day. The sun shone. The crowds came out to fete both a Frenchman in the mailllot jaune and a stage finish in Romain Bardet‘s home town! A classy break went up the road to play for the win, and Daryl Impey kept his head to beat Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) in a two up sprint to claim his maiden Tour de France victoire – the first for Mitchelton-Scott in three years. There was no change on the overall as the GC guys rolled along thoroughly enjoying a lull in proceedings.