Colombia’s Egan Bernal crowned Tour de France champion


The 22-year-old Team Ineos rider finished in the main peloton in a stage won by Caleb Ewan in a frantic sprint finish along the Champs Elysees, the third victory on the race for the Australian.

It was a thrilling conclusion to one of the closest races in recent Tour history, with Bernal’s victory in doubt until the penultimate stage in the Alps on Saturday.

He succeeds teammate Geraint Thomas, who finished second, one minute 11 seconds behind, as champion, breaking a run of four straight British wins in cycling’s most famous race.

Dutch rider Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) completed the podium, a further 20 seconds adrift.

With four-time Tour champion Chris Froome missing after a pre-Tour crash, there were hopes of the first French victory in 34 long years, but home fans were ultimately left disappointed.
Julian Alaphilippe bravely hung on in the yellow jersey for 14 days until Friday’s shortened 19th stage where Bernal took the lead for the first time, while a tearful Thibaut Pinot had to pull out through injury while well-placed to make a challenge on the three mountainous Alpine stages that ultimately decided the final outcome.

It was left to Romain Bardet to claim the consolation of the the Polka Dot Jersey for the mountain’s classification, switching his attention to the secondary prize after seeing his hopes of overall victory recede early in the three-week race.

Peter Sagan of Slovakia had already wrapped up the green points jersey for a record seventh time ahead of the traditional dash for the line in Paris, which is renowned as the most prestigious for the fast-men of the peloton.

“It’s surreal to win this,” said Ewan, who has dominated the sprints on the second half of the race, edging out Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen on the line.

Bernal, predicted by many to enjoy a long reign of success in the Tour de France, stayed out of trouble during the seven laps around Paris to complete his triumph, which has been greeted to much acclaim in Colombia where cycling is a national passion.

Others have come close in the past, but with the formidable Team Ineos machine behind him, including help from Thomas on the crucial concluding stages, Bernal was able to fulfill his destiny and write his name into the history books.

It was only his second Grand Tour finish, having taken 15th, supporting Thomas and Froome, in last year’s Tour de France.

The man who was brought up near Bogota high in the Andes, was originally scheduled to ride in the Giro d’Italia, but a broken collarbone he sustained in a race in May saw his attentions switched with such success to the 106th edition of the Tour de France.

Source : Nbcnewyork