White Jersey Yates gives everything in epic finale on stage 19 of the Tour de France

Fri 22 Jul 2016

A wet and difficult stage 19 of the Tour de France saw white jersey Adam Yates cross the line in 13th place for ORICA-BikeExchange, moving to fourth on the general classification after fighting hard through an attack and crash-marred finale.

Yates still leads the best young rider category after giving absolutely everything as the attacks flew on the tough summit finish of today’s 146kilometre mountain stage that saw an almost complete shake up of the overall top ten.

Needing a bike change on the approach to the last two climbs Yates was paced back to the favourites group by ORICA-BikeExchange teammates before South African Daryl Impey took up the tempo at the front and stayed with Yates until ten kilometres to go.

Romain Bardet (AG2R) won the stage from a late attack and moved into second place on the general classfication with Nairo Quintana (Movistar) eleven seconds ahead of Yates in third ahead of tomorrow's stage 20.

“I lost some time today but it was definitely the hardest day of the last three weeks,” said Yates. “I think it was still a good performance, we are eleven seconds off third place and if an opportunity comes along to reclaim those seconds and get on the podium then certainly I will try to take it.”

“Like I’ve said throughout we’ve been racing day to day and the team have been fantastic the way we have competed everyday. Obviously I’m tired now but we will see what happens tomorrow.”

Sport director Matt White reiterated that the race is not over and there is another epic mountain stage to contend with tomorrow.

“For sure it was a hard stage today,” said White. “Everyone is tired and that’s normal towards the end of the Tour de France, but there is still a way to go and the race is far from over.”

“It’s going to come down to the last hour of racing on tomorrow's stage and I’m sure it will be a spectacular finale. We saw that the change in weather conditions played a part today and there are heavy storms predicted for tomorrow too.

“A lot will depend on who recovers well from today. There were quite a few guys involved in crashes and tiredness will no doubt be a factor. Either way it's going to be an exciting stage.”

How it happened:

Grey clouds welcomed the riders to the start of stage 19 in Albertville with 20 riders going clear on the first climb to create the early breakaway.

Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal) instigated the attack and was joined by the polka dot jersey Rafal Majka (Tinkoff), Jarlinson Pantano (IAM-Cycling) and Dani Navarro (Cofidis).

Stage ten winner Michael Matthews was also part of the 20-rider move and the ORICA-BikeExchange rider won the first intermediate sprint of the day by the shores of Lake Annecy.

Astana were upping the tempo of the peloton after only 35kilometres with the breakaway at four minutes approaching the start of the second climb, the Col de la Forclaz de Montmin.

The 20 leaders still had a four-minute lead over the bunch at the start of the hors category Montee de Bisanne climb with 65kilometres to go.

As expected the complexion of the stage changed completely on the Bisanne climb, the leader's group split, as did the Astana led peloton with riders getting caught out by the acceleration onto the climb.

Two kilometres into the ascent and the gap to the escapees had fallen to two minutes, the peloton had become the favourites group and contained around 40 riders including race leader Christopher Froome (Team-Sky) and the white jersey of Yates.

The rain began to fall in the last 50kilometres making the mountain roads slick and dangerous, Pierre Rolland (Cannondale) crashed out of the breakaway group on the descent of the Bisanne climb leaving only nine riders left up the road.

With 30kilometres to go the rain had become a heavy storm with the temperature also dropping significantly. The favourites group was down to around 25 riders, one-minute 45seconds behind the stuttering leaders.

Impey took control at the front of the group going into the last 25kilometres, injecting a turn of speed and catching most of the breakaway with only Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) left up the road.

Crashes were occurring all over the place on the wet roads including race leader Froome who went down after slipping on the white line of a right hand curve.

The Sky rider jumped on a teammates bike and recovered to make contact with the bunch just after the attack of Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale).

Now on the final climb Bardet had 50seconds with eight kilometres to go and passed Rui Costa a few metres later with the Lampre-Merida rider jumping straight onto the Frenchman’s wheel.

30seconds separated the Yates group and Bardet as BMC and Sky exchanged pulls and the attacks started to fly with three kilometres to go.

Daniel Martin (Etixx-Quickstep) went first and gained a slight advantage but was brought back. Richie Porte (BMC) was up next followed by Fabio Aru (Astana) and the group duly split in half and remained fractured to the line with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) driving the pace for Quintana.

Bardet won the stage and with Yates crossing the line in 13th place and slipping to fourth overall, eleven seconds behind Quintana in third.

Tomorrow’s stage 20 is the last day in the mountains and the last day of competitive racing of this year’s Tour de France. Covering 146.5 kilometres over the Alps from Megeve to Morzine-Avoriaz and including four categorised climbs this brutal mountain stage traverses both the Col de la Colombiere and the hors category Col de Joux Plane.

Tour de France stage 19 results:

1. Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) 04:14:08
2. Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha) 00:00:23
3. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 00:00:23
13. Adam Yates (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:00:56 

General classification after stage 19:

1. Christopher Froome (Team-Sky) 82:10:37
2. Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) 00:04:11
3. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) 00:04:27
4. Adam Yates (ORICA-BikeExchange) 00:04:36