Julian Alaphilippe has lost the Tour de France yellow jersey as the race was neutralised in the final 30km as he tried to recapture his lead.
Unbelievable scenes unfolded as the general classification favourites crested the penultimate climb, the Col de l'Iseran, as Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) had been dropped by his rivals and was trying to chase back on.
Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) led the race over the climb with an advantage 2-07 over Alaphilippe and was racing the descent towards the final, when news emerged that a heavy hailstorm had made conditions treacherous on the road.
Race organisers then opted to cancel the race before the bottom of the descent with the results being taken at the top of the Iseran.
Initially it appeared Bernal had been awarded the stage win, but the race organisers then announced there would be no stage winner and no combativity prize.
However, the overall results were taken from the top of the Iseran, which meant Bernal usurped the yellow jersey from Alaphilippe.
How it happened
Stage 19 of the Tour de France 2019 was set to be another tense game of chess between the general classification contenders, as Julian Alaphilippe looked to spend another breathless day in the yellow jersey.
The short stage of 126.5km from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Tignes kicked was absolutely stacked with climbing from kilometre zero.
Gently rising over opening 20km, the first categorised climb was the short but steep Côte de Saint-André (3.1km at 7.1 per cent), followed quickly by the second category Monteé d’Aussois, 6.5km long at 6.1 per cent.
The Col de la Madeleine was the next test, 3.8km at 6.9 per cent before the monstrous HC Col de l’Isteran (3.3km at 7.3 per cent), the main feature of the day and the highest point of the Tour at 2,751 metres.
But that didn’t mark the end of the climbing, as after the long descent from the summit of the Isaeran came the 7.4km rise of Monteé de Tignes at 6.9 per cent to finish off the stage.
Rapid racing characterised the opening kilometres of racing as the peloton was strung out on the valley floor from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, before Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) kicked off the attacks and was followed by three others including Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida).
A huge group of around 25 riders eventually formed around Martin and went up the road, with overall threats Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) making the move, forcing the peloton to keep the within rage.
The big headline early in the stage was that Thibaut Pinot was dropped from the peloton after 35km of racing, and quickly abandoned the race in tears because of a knee injury suffered on stage 14.
With Valverde and Uran on the front group, the peloton kept the escapees close, with just a one-minute gap on the Madeleine.
Their gap grew out to two minutes as the group shrunk to 20 riders with 60km to the planned finish line.
On the lower slopes of the Iseran the gap began to reduce rapidly, with all the overall favourites still together and Alaphilippe maintaining his position as virtual race leader.
There were 14 riders left in the break at that point, including Uran , Valverde, Nibali, Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).
Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) then launched an attack from the main group 6.5km from the summit of the Iseran, as Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma) countered, Alaphilippe struggling to hold the wheel.
Thomas and Kruijswijk narrowed the advantage to the breakaway down to 20 seconds, as Alaphilippe quickly lost 10 seconds.
Bernal then fired his own attack from the GC group, thriving at high altitude and quickly bridging up to Barguil, Nibali and Yates at the front of the race, with Alaphilippe at 50 seconds.
With 1km left to the summit, Bernal moved into the virtual race lead having started the day 1-30 down on Alaphilippe, and the Colombian reached the top of the climb alone with 2-07 over the yellow jersey.
Simon Yates crested the Iseran in second with Warren Barguil in third.
Bernal and Yates then regrouped on the descent with around 30km left to race, with one more climb on the scheduled parcours.
But footage then began to surface of submerged roads further along the course as a flash hailstorm had flooded the race, causing landslides.
Bernal and Yates plummeted from the top of the descent, with Alaphilippe pursuing behind to try and close the gap and hold his advantage, when riders began to get news over their radios of the disruption on the course.
After a lot of exasperated gestures from riders, and race director Christian Prudhomme speaking to Yates at the front, it emerged that the race had been stopped because of the storm.
Riders eventually came to a halt at the bottom of the descent as confusion reigned, when race organisers finally announced that the results would be taken from the top of the Iseran.
It was then announced after the stage that no stage winner would be crowned, but Bernal had enough of an advantage at the top of the climb to usurp Julian Alaphilippe as the yellow jersey and now leads the race overall.
Tour de France 2019, stage 19: Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Tignes (126.5km)
No stage winner. Results at the top of the Col de l'Iseran:
1. Egan Bernal (Col) Team Ineos, in 2-40-31
2. Simon Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, at 13 seconds
3. Warren Barguil (Fra) Arkéa-Samsic, at 40s
4. Laurens De Plus (Bel) Jumbo-Visma, at 58s
5. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
6. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Ineos
7. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
8. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
9. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First
10. Mikel Landa (Esp) Movistar
11. Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo, at 1-20
12. Gregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe, at same time
13. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, at 1-49
14. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
15. Wout Poels (Ned) Team Ineos, both at same time
16. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, at 2-07
General classification after stage 19
1. Egan Bernal (Col) Team Ineos, in 78-00-42
2. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck - Quick-Step, at 45 seconds
3. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Ineos, at 1-11
4. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned) Jumbo-Visma, at 1-23
5. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 1-50
6. Mikel Landa (Esp) Movistar, at 4-30
7. Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First, at 5-09
8. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, at 5-17
9. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, at 6-25
10. Richie Porte (Aus) Trek-Segafredo, at 6-28
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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.
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