Christophe Laporte scores first French Tour win in thrilling fashion

Christophe Laporte (Jumbo-Visma) claimed the first Tour de France victory of his career on Stage 19, finally giving French fans something to celebrate, not to mention giving his team another excuse to pop a cork in a phenomenal Tour for the Dutch outfit.

On the last vaguely realistic chance for a breakaway, the fight to escape wasn’t as frantic as it could have been, and the peloton let five stars go in the opening kilometers: Nils Politt ( Bora-Hansgrohe), Quinn Simmons (Trek-Segafredo), Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious), Mikkel Honoré (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) and Taco van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux).

The peloton settled in for the remaining 180 kilometers of the race at Cahors, with the threat of crosswinds dictating the shape of the peloton as Lotto Soudal took control for the hitherto unlucky Caleb Ewan.

The peaceful progress of the stage was interrupted about thirty kilometers from the start in Castelnau-Magnoac by a new protest in front of the peloton – the breakaway was stopped 90 seconds ahead – but the race resumed after a few minutes.

The breakaway was nearly overtaken with 125km to go, but Honoré injected pace with the peloton just six seconds behind and all but Politt stayed away leaving four in front. They almost caught Cyril Barthe (B&B Hotels-KTM), but he ran out of gas after joining the leaders a few seconds away.

With just over half a minute and 53 km to go, Simmons attacks his companions in the alleys of the medieval town of Lauzerte. He was joined for a few kilometers by Mohorič, but was left to complete a solo effort that lasted just over 10km. Meanwhile, the peloton was splitting a bit in the promised winds, but without much danger.

The American rookie was caught just above the second and final fourth category climb of the day, and the attacks began firing without delay on the bumpy roads and rollercoasters beyond the Côte de Saint-Daunès , initiated by Alexis Gougeard (B&B Hotels-KTM) . Even Tadej Pogačar saw a chance to step in by following a counterattack, but Wout van Aert had his card marked.

Fred Wright (Bahrain Victorious) and Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) joined Gougeard for the descent where the advantage swung in their favor, and with 20 kilometers to go, their gap was 31 seconds.

A series of roundabouts and a peloton 100 per cent lacking control – Wout van Aert leading the pace as the pure sprinters’ servants surged one by one – meant the breakaway kept a tantalizing margin until the final 1,400m where Christophe Laporte was the first to make the bridge. But the pace had shredded the peloton and Wright was able to make one last push under the red blaze, gaining a few bike lengths.

But Stuyven got back behind the wheel with Laporte behind him, and the fresher man, the Frenchman, didn’t wait for the final sprint. He attacked from a few hundred meters and had time to celebrate a fantastic first Tour stage win on his eighth appearance, and a long-awaited first French victory of the race.

Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck) crossed the line just a second later to win the reduced peloton sprint, with DSM’s Alberto Dainese in third.

The GC riders survived the penultimate road stage of the Tour and the standings are unchanged heading into the stage 20 time trial. However, character, racing talent and positioning instinct de Pogačar shone again in the final, the white jersey getting involved in the sprint and finishing fifth. The provisional standings suggested he had clawed back a five-second lead from a split in the peloton, but it was later confirmed that the time gaps remained the same and his deficit was 3:26.

Tour de France (2.UWT)
Castelnau-Magnoac → Cahors