Mohoric Wins Stage 19 of Tour de France
Stage 19 of Tour de France 2023 was designed by race organizer A.S.O. as a 172.8-kilometer ride from Moirans-en-Montagne to Poligny in the Jura Mountains.
The stage route did not include any serious mountain climbs, but after almost three weeks of intense Tour battles, the challenging hilly terrain would be more than enough to make thin cyclist legs feel like bridge pillars.
Seven Tour de France teams had not lost any riders to illness or injury and were still fully intact before the start of today’s stage.
The hostilities started early in the stage and several attempts at breaking away from the peloton were made by various riders. Active riders at the front included Lotto-Dstny’s Victor Campenaerts, Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Victorious), Michal Kwiatkowski, and Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek).
Pedersen and Astana’s Alexey Lutsenko established a twenty-second lead, but it appeared senseless for the duo to continue in front without any support from additional breakaway participants. Pedersen looked strong on the descent and Lutsenko found it difficult to keep up with him.
Lutsenko and Pedersen were caught. With teammate Kasper Asgreen wining yesterday’s stage 18, Julian Alaphillipe was again motivated to try his luck. Alaphilippe attacked and joined forces with Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ). Meanwhile, tired riders were being dropped from the back of the peloton.
Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-EasyPost) tried his luck after the Alaphilippe-Küng duo was caught.
After sixty kilometers of unsuccessful breakaway attempts and high speed in the peloton, a nine-man front group with a viable lead was finally established. The group featured Alaphilippe, Pedersen, Campenaerts, Warren Barguil (Arkea-Samsic), Georg Zimmermann (Intermarche-Citcus-Wanty), Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Jack Haig (Bahrain-Victorious), Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates), and Jumbo-Visma’s Tiesj Benoot.
Later, Politt was struck with bad luck when his bike chain broke and his team car could not come to his aid. A neutral support car supplied Politt with spare bikes, but after three attempts with bikes mounted with non-compatible pedal systems, valuable time was lost and Politt had to chase solo. Politt later got a better Specialized S-Works bike from his own team car.
Meanwhile, the EF Education-EasyPost team had moved to the front of the main peloton and initiated a wild chase as they did not have any riders in the breakaway. While some were surprised to learn the EF team was still part of this year’s Tour, the team successfully reduced the lead of the front group to thirty seconds.
A large group of riders successfully bridged the gap to the front breakaway group. The front group now featured thirty-six riders.
Simon Clarke (Israel-PremierTech) and Campenaerts attacked from the revised front group to try to reduce the number of riders present. With 57 kilometers left of the stage the front group had an advantage of 24 seconds to the chasing group. Meanwhile, the main peloton was more than two minutes behind the front duo.
With approximately thirty kilometers left of today’s stage, Clarke suddenly suffered from cramps and hat to quit the front duo. Yesterday’s stage winner Kasper Asgreen attacked from the chase group with Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Victorious) and Ben O’Connor (AG2R-Citroen). The trio caught Campenaerts and pressed on.
Multiple attacks were launched from the chase group to bridge the gap to the front trio. Georg Zimmermann (Intermarche-Circus-Wanty), Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-EasyPost), Matteo Trentin and Alpecin-Deceuninck’s Mathieu van der Poel tried to close. Fifteen kilometers remained. Alpecin-Deceuninck’s Jasper Philipsen bridged to chase group one together with Thomas Pidcock (Ineos-Grenadiers), Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma), Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek) and Jayco-Alula’s Luka Mezgec.
With four kilometers left of stage 19 it appeared obvious that the chase group would not be able to bridge the gap to the front trio. The stage winner would be found between the front three. Would Asgreen prevail for the second day in-a-row?
O’Connor attacked in the final three-hundred meters. Asgreen followed with a powerful sprint, but Mohoric was first across the finish line in a photo finish.
Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) remains general classification leader. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) is second and Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates) is third.
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