The 2019 edition of the Tour de France was marked by high drama, including sharp weather swings and a crushing defeat for the French.
Only towards the end did a clear winner emerge in Colombia’s Egan Bernal.
Interviewed on French TV ahead Sunday’s final sprint from the town of Rambouillet to Paris, Bernal said he was still trying to digest the events. He said he felt good as he raced, but was counting each kilometer that passed. Only when he crossed the line on the next-to-last stage of the race, did he realize he would win.
This year’s edition marked the highest route in the Tour’s history, including five summit finishes. That was a plus for Bernal, who is strong on hills.
The race started July 6 in Brussels. It wound its way through champagne and wine country, passed through ancient villages and towns and scaled the Alps and Pyrenees. It has always been a social as well as a sporting event; local residents and diehard fans line roads at every stage, cheering the riders on.
It seemed like this Tour would finally bring France its first victory in more than three decades. But late last week, French favorite Julian Alaphilippe slid behind.
The riders endured some extreme weather this year, including soaring temperatures and a massive hailstorm that triggered mudslides.