Stage 19 of the Tour de France 2019 has been stopped before the planned end due to a freak hailstorm on the Col de l’Iseran, making the descent too treacherous, with reports of a landslide on the route also coming in.
Race radio initially said the race had been neutralised on the descent with news later filtering through that the remainder of the stage was cancelled, with finish times taken at the top of the l’Iseran.
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The Tour’s race centre said: “The riders are invited to gather in a tunnel in Val d’Isère to be protected from the bad weather conditions before proceeding to Tignes where they’ll stay tonight. Confirmation: the race is over because of hail and pile of rubble in the downhill.”
As well as the hailstorm, another reason for the race being called was due to a landslide blocking the road.
Egan Bernal (Ineos) was first to the summit of the Iseran meaning he wins the stage and takes the yellow jersey off Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) who was dropped on the climb.
The times set by riders at the summit of the Iseran would be taken and the race stopped as the GC leaders descended, about to come across patches of ice that organisers were attempting to clear as the race was ongoing.
Christian Prudhomme pulled up alongside the two race leaders Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and Egan Bernal (Ineos) to explain the decision minutes before riders came to a halt.
Team cars were told to inform their riders to stop racing on the descent as the race gradually wound down.
After the riders had stopped and began to get into team cars, television pictures showed snow plows trying to clear the road of hailstones and water but to little avail.
Egan Bernal crossed the summit of the Col d’Iseran ahead of Julian Alaphilippe, meaning the Colombian takes the yellow jersey from the Frenchman.
Further details surrounding race neutralisation have been published by La Flamme Rouge.
These rules state that in the event of an incident or accident that might affect the smooth running of the race, organisers can decide to cancel a portion of the stage and respect the results at the point of cancellation.
Further rules state that finishing times can be taken anywhere on the stage, at the discretion of the race organisers.