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Tour de France winner-in-waiting Egan Bernal: "This is the triumph of a whole country"; full reaction including from second place Geraint Thomas + video highlights

Team Ineos set to win race for seventh time in eight years, Colombia to get its first champion

Egan Bernal will tomorrow become the first Colombian to win the Tour de France - and, following an edition of the race that celebrates the centenary of the yellow jersey, will at 22 years of age, become the second youngest man ever to win the maillot jaune and the fourth youngest overall winner in the race's 116-year history.

For the second successive day, extreme weather rendered parts of the route too dangerous to ride, and organisers decided to shorten the stage to just 59 kilometres from Albertville to Val Thorens.

The stage win went to Vincenzo Nibali of Bahrain-Merida, a member of the day's break, with Movistar's  Alejandro Valverde and Mikel Landa attacking late from the overall contenders' group to finish second and third.

Immediately behind them, Bernal and defending champion Geraint Thomas crossed the line together as the Team Ineos pair rode into the top two places on the General Classification, with Deceunick-Quick Step's Julian Alaphilippe, who lost the yellow jersey yesterday, dropped earlier on the climb.

Yesterday evening, following a chaotic Stage 19 in which a mudslide and hailstorm led organisers to quite rightly decide to take the overall timings from the top of the day’s penultimate climb, the Col de l’Iseran, they announced the shortening of today’s stage.

At lunchtime, a thunderstorm at the finish led to fears that the entire stage might have to be abandoned on safety grounds, but it proceeded on the truncated parcours, organisers keeping a close eye on the weather.

The planned climbs of the Cormet de Roseland and Cote de Longfoy were skipped, with the stage reduced from 130 to 59 kilometres as the riders headed along the main road through the valley to Moutier to begin the 33.4 kilometre final climb to Val Thorens.

A breakaway group of almost 30 riders formed early on but they were picked off one by one as Team Ineos and Jumbo-Visma – whose Steven Kruijswijk is now in the third podium place – forced the pace at the front of the peloton.

Emanuel Buchmann of Bora-Hangrohe moved to fourth overall while Alaphilippe, despite being dropped again, completed the top five, a result few would have predicted when the race started in Brussels three weeks ago.

Only Nibali – the sole rider to have broken the Team Sky and now Team Ineos run of overall champions since Sir Bradley Wiggins won in 2012 – managed to stay ahead of the GC group as he took the sixth Tour de France stage victory of his career.

Besides the maillot jaune, Bernal also clinches the best young rider’s white jersey, and had he finished in the top three today, would also have added the mountains classification.

Instead, the polka dot jersey remains on the shoulders of AG2R La Mondiale’s Romain Bardet – a small crumb of comfort for the home nation, which with Alaphilipppe in yellow and Groupama-FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot the favourite for the overall just 48 hours earlier, had seen dreams dashed of a first French winner since Bernard Hinault in 1985.

Irrespective of the result of the expected sprint finish in Paris tomorrow evening, the lead of Peter Sagan of Bora-Hansgrohe in the points competition is unassailable as he heads for a record seventh green jersey.

Tour de France champion-in-waiting, Egan Bernal

We’re now close to making it official. There’s one stage left, but normally if everything goes well, I can say that I’ve won my first Tour.

The last climb has been very hard. Jumbo-Visma rode hard to make the podium. We were in a comfortable situation and I felt really well. I’m happy.

It’s incredible to think that I have won my first Tour. I just want to get to the finish line in Paris tomorrow and after I’ll be calmer.

Colombia is on the verge of winning its first Tour – I feel this is not only my triumph but the triumph of a whole country.

We already had the Giro, La Vuelta, but the Tour was missing and it’s a great honour to think that I’m the one achieving this. My dad couldn’t talk at first but when he managed, he congratulated me. He was about to cry. For us, it’s a dream.

We used to watch the Tour on TV and we thought it was something unreachable. As a kid, you think “how cool it would be to be there one day”, but it looked so far away. Here we are and I’m very emotional.

Outgoing champion Geraint Thomas, now second overall

To get first and second doesn’t get any better. The fact that Egan is one step above me, he’s the best person to have in front of me.

 Obviously it’s been a crazy year for me and I can be happy and proud that I’ve given everything to be in my best shape here and I think we rode really well as a team from day one.

It’s been amazing. I think that we’ve proved time and time again that we’re a strong unit and we know how to ride hard and perform in this race. It’s a pleasure to be a part of.

Team principal of Team Ineos, Sir Dave Brailsford

It’s the most exciting Tour de France that we’ve taken part in and credit to Julian Alaphilippe as he died for that jersey every stage and he made a lot of people second guess what they thought they knew, and I think Pinot did the same in the Pyrenees. He was aggressive, he was brave and he took the race to us.

 We knew we had a group of older guys who were performing well, but we looked very hard to find the new generation and we decided that it was going to be Egan. We fought pretty hard to get him and he developed fantastically well.

The advice that G has given [Egan], he knows what he’s doing, he’s generous with his advice and a generous person in that regard and in the end it was all about the team winning.

 A lot of people may have questioned having two leaders, were we hedging our bets and whether it was going to work. It’s worked to perfection and you can’t get better than second and first.

Romain Bardet, mountains classification winner

The polka dot jersey made me dream when I was a kid. In 2015, I missed out on the last mountain stage.

It’s a nice satisfaction for me this time. It’s going to be my fifth time on stage on the Champs-Elysées for different awards in seven participations.

It’s good to reinvent oneself. Things haven’t gone according to my expectations at this Tour but I’ll enjoy this trophy before thinking about what has not worked.

We’re allowed to fail but we’re not allowed to not try and give it all.

Stage winner Vincenzo Nibali

It’s been a feeling of liberation when I crossed the line because the last few hundred meters felt like never ending. My only way to make it was to attack from far out. With the advantage we had at the bottom of the climb, I believed I could make it. I hadn’t won since last year. It’s a nice revenge.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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