Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) says that race organisers “have done their best” with the decision to stop stage 19 of the Tour de France 2019 as riders descended the Col de l’Iseran.
Egan Bernal (Ineos) and Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) were racing ahead off the front, the young Colombian taking out enough time to take the virtual race lead off Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) as he faltered on the climb behind.
However, due to a freak hailstorm and a landslide causing the route to become treacherous, the race was called off, with finish times for the stage being given at the top of the l’Iseran.
This meant Bernal had taken the yellow jersey, with Alaphilippe unable to try and take back time on the descent or the ascent to the summit finish at Tignes.
“It’s been a different race than what people expected and we have a new leader,” Sagan said, “organisers have done their best. I’m not here to judge.”
The Slovak has said that acting in the interest of rider safety was the right decision, saying there was a lot of mud on the road, making the wet conditions even more dangerous.
“There was no reason for us to risk our lives under the rain, the hail and with so much mud on the road,” he said.
As the gruppetto approached the summit finish at the Galibier on stage 18 the storm clouds rolled in, and before that two blisteringly hot days in Nîmes and Pont du Gard, which led Sagan to criticise the CPA riders’ union for not protecting the peloton in the extreme weather conditions.
“We already had a thunderstorm yesterday at the end of the race. Today it was going to be even worse conditions,” Sagan said.
The three-time world champion is on track for a record-breaking seventh green jersey, currently holding an 85 point lead over Elia Viviani (Deceuninck – Quick-Step).