Tour de France #19: Team DiData survive final mountain stage

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Primoz Roglic (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) won stage 19 of the Tour de France after a masterclass descent off the top of the Col d’Aubisque. Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) sprinted to 2nd place ahead of the rest of his GC rivals with Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) picking up 3rd.

Stage 19 of the Tour de France was the final mountain stage of the race and for Team Dimension Data, it was a day of survival with nearly 5000m of climbing packed into the 200km stage. Once again it was big fight for the early breakaway, with many teams still hoping to salvage something from this year’s race. Eventually it was 18 riders that went clear and our African Team had Tom-Jelte Slagter in the front group.

The stage was extremely difficult though and Katusha, who had missed the break, kept the pressure on from the peloton to make it that much more testing. This saw the break only ride out to around a 4’00” advantage before the gap started coming down. After already covering the Col de Aspin, the race hit the Col du Tourmalet and this is where the GC race kicked off.

Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha) and Mikel Landa (Movistar) attacked the peloton. The increase in pace saw riders being dropped from the front group as well as the peloton. Slagter was one of the riders to be distanced at this point in the race. After the Tourmalet it was onto the final climb of the Tour de France, the Col d’Aubisque.

Team LottoNL-Jumbo clearly had a plan and set the race on fire with Robert Gesink powering up the climb to isolate the GC contenders. Attacks then followed by the Dutch teams GC contenders, Steven Kruijswijk and Roglic. Team Sky and Tom Dumoulin were forced to respond and this saw an elite group of 10 riders form over the top of the climb, with the break also caught at the summit.

On the 20km downhill to the finish-line, Roglic did not let up and kept the pressure on with a lightning fast descent. Dumoulin could not hold the wheel of the Slovenian as he pulled open a gap on the GC contenders. Roglic would not be seen again and took a fine stage win.

With just two stages remaining, our African Team was happy to ensure all 5 of our riders got through today’s tough stage. We will now aim to recover somewhat during tomorrow’s time trial stage before putting up a fight for the final stage win on the Champs-Elysee in Paris, on Sunday.

Jay Thomson – Rider
Today was pretty full on. It took a while for the break to go and then when it did, Katusha rode a pretty mean tempo because there was someone threatening their GC placing. It made for a long and hard day and the mountains aren’t my specialty but we survived. My dream was always to get to Paris and now to get this close, well, words can’t describe how I’ll feel to make it to Sunday.