Christophe Laporte won stage 19 of the Tour.
France were preparing for the heartbreak of leaving the Tour without a win, but this Friday Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma) trusted himself and Wout van Aert to surprise the field and win the 19th stage.
Laporte went against the might of the sprinter teams, jumping from the pack a kilometer from the end to touch the last two fugitives of the day, leaving them behind with a sprint 600 meters from the goal, which he crossed with a second advantage over the big favorites to win in today’s run, namely the Belgian Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck), who was second, against the Italian Alberto Dainese (DSM).
The first victory on the Tour was won for the dedicated 29-year-old Jumbo-Visma worker, and the “drama” of the organizing nation, deeply disappointed by the absence of triumphs in this “Grand Boucle” was over.
“I’m super happy, I still have a hard time believing it. The team trusted me today. Wout said to me: “today is for you”. The last time he said that to me was at Paris-Nice… lucky”, said Laporte, referring to the memorable first stage of the emblematic French competition, in which he crossed the finish line in first place, flanked by Primoz Roglic and Van Aert, in a Jumbo-Visma hat trick.
For the rider, who until today had occupied all the places in the top 10 in stages of the Tour de France except the first, the triumph represents more than “a reward”. “It’s huge. I was already immensely happy on this Tour, even without outstanding personal results, because I have so much pleasure in racing in this team. Today, they gave me an opportunity and winning the Tour de France is truly exceptional, it was a childhood dream” , said the yellow jersey colleague Jonas Vingegaard, who today kept the differences intact for the most direct pursuers in general.
The 188.3 kilometers between Castelnau-Magnoac and Cahors, which began with the announcement of the withdrawal of Enric Mas (Movistar), the 11th in the general, infected with the coronavirus, were the last opportunity for the “stage hunters” and, at kilometer eight, the “repeaters” Nils Politt (BORA-hansgrohe), Mikkel Honoré (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl), Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious), Taco Van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) and Quinn Simmons (Trek- Segafredo) set out on the adventure.
At kilometer 30, when the caravan was stopped again by a demonstration, before resuming its course, the difference was 1.20 minutes, a margin that never grew exponentially and that made Politt abdicate, at a time when the platoon almost caught up with the fugitives.
Only 68 kilometers had passed and it was too early for the breakout to end, so the sprinters’ teams slowed down and let the escapees dream a little more, especially Simmons, caught just 35 kilometers from the finish.
In the last kilometers of the peaceful journey before Jonas Vingegaard’s final yellow test – the 40.7 kilometers of time trial between Lacapelle-Marival and Rocamadour – there was time for new moments of protagonism by Tadej Pogacar (UAE Emirates), who, first, pierced, and then attacked, just to test the concentration of the leader of the general and his “policeman” Wout van Aert.
With 30 kilometers to go, and when some fast men like Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) – a real disappointment, like his team, on their Tour debut – were already cool, Alexis Gougeard (B&B Hotels-KTM), Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) decided to go against all odds and escaped the peloton, which “did hard” (and a lot) to catch the three.
It was Peter Sagan’s TotalEnergies to culminate a job done, of course, by Van Aert, with Wright and Stuyven being “caught” by Laporte already inside the last 1,000 meters, before the Frenchman headed for victory, with the time of 3:52.04 hours.
Philipsen and Dainese arrived a second later, with Pogacar in fifth. Initially, the organization considered that there had been “cuts” in the front group and timed five seconds of difference between the Slovenian youngster and the yellow jersey, a classification later rectified, after the arrival images were analyzed by the commissaires’ college.
Thus, Vingegaard kept the 3.26 minutes difference to “Pogi”, getting closer and closer to seeing his reign on the Tour interrupted, and the eight to Geraint Thomas (INEOS), the third place.
Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), who will be in “his” field on Saturday, lost 2.26 minutes to Laporte, but remains in 55th position in the general standings, 2:54.01 hours from yellow.