By Gregor Brown
Egan Bernal made history today at Val Thorens, set to become the first Colombian to win the Tour de France and the youngest in the post-war era.
With the help of Ineos team-mate and 2018 victor Geraint Thomas, he defended his yellow jersey at the Val Thorens summit finish. Thomas arrived hand-in-hand with Bernal, gaining enough time on his rivals to move to second overall, 1-11 behind.
"It will be our first Tour de France," Bernal said, "I think it's really important for us. I'm really proud to be the first Colombian to win the Tour."
Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) came close, finishing second twice behind Chris Froome (Ineos) and becoming the first Colombian to win the Giro d'Italia.
Bernal, though, arrived on the top of the Tour's podium at the age of 22 and with the help of a strong team. Ineos is now counting it's seventh Tour win, as Bernal joins Thomas, Froome and Bradley Wiggins as winners for the British squad.
He also joins the long list of Colombians who have excelled in the Tour de France, including in recent years Quintana, Rigoberto Urán (EF Education First) and Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates).
"It's one of the biggest thing for us because it will be our first Tour de France," Bernal added.
"I received a lot of message but to be honest, I have just talked with my family and with some friends. I'm very happy for me and really proud to to be in this position."
Bernal has to survive the final flat stage into Paris, which is usually a processional ride that ends with a sprint finish on the Champs-Élysées.
Bernal moved into Ineos's leadership role on the Galibier stage to Valloire after moving ahead of Geraint Thomas on GC. Yesterday, he gained the yellow jersey on the shortened stage over the Iseran climb. Today, his Ineos team controlled the shortened 59km stage that ended up Val Thorens.
"Yeah, I felt really good today but the pace was really hard," Bernal added. " Jumbo-Visma were pushing really hard because they wanted to get Steven Kruijswijk on the podium but I felt really good."
Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), the 2014 Tour winner, won the Val Thorens stage from a breakaway. Bernal finished fourth and had time to celebrate when he crossed the line with Thomas.
"I think that it hasn't hit me yet," Bernal said. "Yeah, I'm really happy, but for sure when I arrive at the hotel, alone maybe, I'll believe what I've accomplished."
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