Tour de France 2019: Stage 20 – Nibali takes the stage; Bernal takes the Tour

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?

Continue reading

Giro d’Italia 2019: Stage 16 – Ciccone wins tricky stage, Carapaz maintains race lead

Stage 16 of the Giro d’Italia. No Passo Gavia because of the threat of an avalanche, but there was an uphill start, the Mortirolo (dedicated to Marco Pantani), and over 5,000m of climbing. This should have all the elements for a lively queen stage, particularly right after the rest day. Shouldn’t it? It should and it did! A very cold and wet KOM Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) was one of two men left from an early 21-strong break, and through chattering teeth and possible hypothermia, he gathered everything left to outsprint Astana’s Jan Hirt for an emotional stage win. We expected Vicenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) to attack and we weren’t disappointed as his offensive shook up the GC and allowed him to leap over Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) but the Shark of Messina couldn’t dent his 1:47 deficit to maglia rosa wearer Richard Carapaz (Movistar).

Continue reading