Dave Brailsford has said that safety precautions are more important than bike racing, the Team Ineos boss seeming to acknowledge the decision to stop stage 19 of the Tour de France 2019 was the correct one.
The race was stopped on the descent of the l’Iseran, due to a freak hailstorm and a landslide blocking parts of the route and endangering riders.
The race was called at the top of the l’Iseran, with times taken as each rider crossed the summit, with Egan Bernal (Ineos) the first to do so and therefore taking the stage win. Alaphilippe reached the summit over two minutes later, therefore relinquishing the race lead to the young Colombian.
Speaking to ITV, Brailsford said: “I think first and foremost there’s obviously been a quite considerable landslide but you’ve got to make sure everyone’s alright. The fans, people at the roadside, there’s bike racing but then you’ve got to make sure everyone is alright is my first reaction.”
Everything was going well for Ineos as the riders started to descended the l’Iseran, with Egan Bernal pulling away at the front of the race and Geraint Thomas marking the other GC rivals with Alaphilippe playing catch up behind.
With Bernal taking the yellow jersey after opening up enough of a gap at the top of the l’Iseran, Brailsford said it was a good day for the team, and that the result was in part due to their tactics on the portion of the stage that was raced.
“Fortune favours the brave at the end of the day, we were always going to take today on and I thought the guys rode really well to be honest,” Brailsford said.
“Dylan van Baarle got in the break, Castroviejo [was working hard], Wout Poels was working well. Thomas and Bernal had a plan, G went first and then Egan went over the top.
“Who knows what would have happened after that. We were hoping to get to the descent in that situation and then who knows what would have happened. We don’t control the weather. In one way I’m really happy but in another way I’m still really concerned for everyone else out there.”
Although Alaphilippe had lost more than two minutes to Egan Bernal at the top of the Col de l’Iseran, it was likely the Frenchman would claw back valuable seconds on the descent, before the summit finish ascent to Tignes, which was more suited to him.
“Maybe Alaphilippe would have come back on the descent,” Brailsford said, “he’s a great descender, but if he’d caught the group in front they wouldn’t have helped him. He would have had to do it himself and Egan was looking the strongest on the road. But we’ll never know will we.”
Brailsford was then asked whether a natural disaster will have helped them win the Tour de France, which received a spiky reply: “It didn’t. No, we’ll win the Tour de France because of how we ride.”