Anyway, on that note, that’s all from me today. Thank you for reading, emailing, tweeting – and I’ll be back tomorrow for some stage 20 time trial action. Bye for now.
“Not sure it’s fair to lament Mohoric’s win as being a case of the others ‘letting him go’,” emails James Cavell. “Mohoric will have been studying who chased when others attacked, who was unwilling to work, who might have been soft pedalling on the front etc. He’ll have watched others attack first, gambling (or observing) that they’ll be brought back, studying the response, then timing his dig to perfection.”
Maybe, but then again, Politt just said others riders were looking to him to bring Mohoric back after he went clear, which shows there was definitely some hesitation to chase in the group behind. I’m sure plenty of thought went into Mohoric’s attack, but there is no doubt that the riders behind could (and arguably should) have co-operated better to bring it back. Mohoric asked the question, and got the stage, and well done to him.
Tadej Pogacar speaks: “There were a few crashes and splits … it’s really not nice to start a day like this. We kept the peloton quiet for a while, but after the sprint it was full attack mode, and it was a pretty strange race, but after the breakaway went clear, we started to be conservative again.”
Jasper Stuyven speaks to Eurosport: “As we’ve seen in the final … there were a lot of strong guys there. Maybe they looked at me as the favourite, maybe that’s why I had a lot of attacks that were chased down, that cost me a lot of energy … but I mean, I didn’t have the feeling I was targeted more than other guys, I think we all raced until everyone was empty. No one had much left in the legs. At the end it was just Eddy [Theuns] and me left … we were all on the limit … we tried, there was a bit of co-operation at one point … then Politt went full from the back … everyone was at the same empty level.”
“Cav is home”
It wasn’t his day today – but the truth is, Deceuninck–Quick-Step had a day off, and they didn’t work to set up a record 35th stage win for Cavendish. It would be interesting to know if they thought about starting to work when that second escape group closed the gap to the first six-man break.
Regardless, it will all come down to Sunday. Can Cavendish pull off another win in Paris and overtake Eddy Merckx on the final day of the 2021 race?
Nils Politt speaks to ITV: “I was alone in this group, it was a big breakaway, I had to try something in the end … It was quite hilly at the end, I almost tried on every hill, it was a hard fight, and everybody was dead … fifth place in the end, it’s quite good. Actually, I was trying to select the group there [by attacking] … everybody was looking to me [when Mohoric went clear], but it was not up to me to close this again, because there were some teams with two guys there. For sure, it’s not easy, if you already have a stage in your pocket, everybody’s looking [to me to close down the gap to Mohoric].”
The peloton has rolled home. As David Millar said on commentary, it’s like the old-school Tour de France, to see a breakaway get that much time on the peloton. For the second half of the stage, most of the riders were just rolling along happily and having a chat.
More from Mohoric: “I can’t believe it … I was trying to do my best … we were thinking that maybe it’s a day for the sprint, maybe Deceuninck would control … when I saw those guys [the first breakaway group] going, I did a super-big effort to get back to them, then I saw I had good legs … I spoke to the guys in the break, I said it was a good strategy to go as hard as possible … that’s the best way to get the break all the way to the finish, because it’s hard to control … I was disappointed (when the big group came back) … we had no teammates there so I was a little bit disappointed, but I never give up … when Nils [Politt] went I was so on my limit, I was almost exploding … I said, I just need to do one more sprint … then I looked back and nobody was there … I went as hard as I possibly good, I was dying, doing ridiculous low power, but trying to stay as aero as possible until the line.”
The stage winner Mohoric is asked what he was thinking during the final kilometre: “I was thinking mostly about what happened two days ago, in the evening when I felt like a criminal, no? With all the police coming to our hotel … From one point of view it’s a good thing, because it means there is the control over the peloton … they are checking all the teams. Of course they didn’t find anything because we have nothing to hide. From one point of view it’s a good thing [that there are doping checks], but from another point of view, I’m a little bit disappointed with the system … it’s not a nice thing when the police walks into your room and starts just … all your personal belongings, it never happened to me before, and it feels a little bit weird. When they go through your family photos, through your phone, through your messages … It feels a little bit ‘like this’ but at the end of the day, I have nothing to hide. It’s OK at the end, I hope.”
Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo) speaks to Eurosport: “It was a very hard battle to get clear from the bunch, I think we had to pull one hour, full gas, with that group until the bunch popped … and the heat, at the end of the Tour – it was pretty hard.
“I really don’t understand how they cannot send the motos with the bidons [drinks] there … I was asking for it with more than 20km to go, they just didn’t come – in heat like this it’s not so funny. In the end I think we were all quite on the limit … there were attacks going all the way behind Mohoric … he was pretty strong to stay out front there with a headwind like that.
“We were three guys [from Trek-Segafredo] but in the end we lacked the legs … we did the maximum we could … Mohoric was just really strong … in the end the legs are pretty hurting a lot … unfortunately it was not enough to go for the win.”
That was shaping up to be a fascinating stage finish, with loads of riders in the mix for the win. Mohoric’s ride was brilliant, but it wasn’t the most exciting climax.
Mohoric has already won stages at the Giro and Vuelta. He now has not one, but two Tour stage wins to his name.
Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) wins stage 19!
A fearsomely powerful ride from the Slovenian, who has time to wave to the camera, smile and celebrate on his way to the finish line. That’s his second stage win of this year’s race.
He gives a ‘zip it’ gesture across his lips as he crosses the line, presumably a message against all the suspicion and criticism the team is experiencing currently.
1km to go: Mohoric is inside the final kilometre now and it’s a ride to guaranteed glory, with a gap of over a minute.
2km to go: The gap is holding steady at around a minute.
The riders in the chase group will be gutted. All that work to get up to the front of the race, and distance the peloton, and they let Mohoric escape and take the glory. Cycling is a tough sport, but they will be kicking themselves, at the same time, at having let such an obviously dangerous rider escape for the win.
3km to go: Video via Le Tour Twitter of Mohoric powering to his second stage win of the race –
4km to go: The Slovenian champion Mohoric has a lead of a minute, and it’s flat until the line.
4.5km to go: “The organisation has gone out of it now,” says Kelly of the chase group. Which is quite right. They have handed this to Mohoric. You can understand that the guys with the slower sprint don’t want to help others win. But on the other hand, it would give them a tiny chance of a win, as opposed to zero chance. It’s Mohoric’s day if he stays upright.
6km to go: This really looks like game over now – Mohoric has 56” – and the chase group looks in disarray. They looked at each other for a few crucial seconds, and Mohoric didn’t need to be asked twice.
8.5km to go: “Whatever they create with this origami of effort is not going to take flight,” says Carlton Kirby on Eurosport, of the chasers’ efforts. That’s abstract.
Mohoric has 47”. Politt, Pedersen try to counterattack back down the road. But it looks like it’s not going to be enough.
“Demoralisation starts to kick in,” says David Millar, over on ITV4. “None of them are strong enough to make the difference.”
10km to go: Mohoric, the Slovenian, has 43” on his rivals.
The peloton is over 17 minutes down on the front of the race. I hope they don’t miss the time cut.
11.5km to go: Mohoric has 41” on the chasers. He has one more little ascent to negotiate, then it’s a fast descent and a flat section to the finish.
13km to go: If you missed it, the Bahrain Victorious hotel in Pau was raided the night before last, and an investigation opened by the local prosecutor’s office into allegations of doping –
14km to go: This will be Bahrain Victorious’s third stage win of the race, if Mohoric can hang on. Mohoric and Dylan Teuns have already taken a stage each.
Tour de France 2021: Matej Mohoric goes solo to win stage 19 – as it happened
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