The penultimate stage of the Tour de France was shortened to 59-kilometers. Race organizers communicated the route change to teams on Friday, following the cancellation of stage 19 due to hail, snow and landslide.
“It was a bit of an anticlimactic end to the Tour, but we can’t rest on the what ifs,” said sport director Charly Wegelius. “Overall the team rode really well today — and now we’re done.”
Done save Sunday’s traditional ceremonial stage into Paris. Rigoberto Urán ends the three-week, 21-stage race in seventh overall. Compatriot Egán Bernal becomes the first Colombian to win the Tour de France.
Tour first-timer Mike Woods flew the EF Education First Pro Cycling in the stage 20 breakaway.
“It wasn’t the plan,” he noted. “We assumed it wouldn’t be a big break, that it would be a smaller move, easy to control. When I saw bigger moves attempting to get away, I made sure to jump in. Either it could go to the line or I could be up the road if Rigo attacked or if I needed to drop back and help him.”
Initially it was a race of attrition up the Tour’s final climb, the 33-kilometer long Val Thorens. Woods looked strong as rider-after-rider fell away from the 29-man leading group.
Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) was the first escapee to attack. Woods initially marked the move but couldn’t quite hold Nibali’s wheel.
“I wasn’t as strong as Nibali today, but I was able to be there, at the front,” said Woods. “I think I was second strongest in that breakaway group. When Nibali went away, I focused my efforts on being around Rigo.”
“Woods raced at the front on the hardest days,” said Wegelius. “I can’t help but wonder what he would have done in this Tour if he hadn’t fallen over. Racing with broken ribs is far from easy. I would have loved to have seen what he could have done without injury.”
Much like the breakaway group, the yellow jersey group initially lost members because of the pace being set up Val Thorens. Jumbo-Vismo assumed controlled of the tempo, hoping to put Steven Kruijswijk on the podium.
After the Dutch team’s efforts distanced second-overall Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Simon Yates (Mitchelton-SCOTT) went on the attack in search of the stage win and KOM jersey.
Urán did not respond to the move, which was brought back, eventually finishing alongside Emanuel Buchmann (BORA-hansgrohe) at 23-seconds.
“I’m feeling really happy with today, with my work,” said Urán. “Of course I was wanting more, but this race always puts you in your place that you need to be.”
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