Egan Bernal after Stage 20 of the 2019 Tour de France. Photo: Pauline Ballet /ASO

Has Egan Bernal won the 2019 Tour de France? Stage 21 explained

Egan Bernal has all but won the 2019 Tour de France. Stage 21 might be innocuous in its profile, but it’s not there for the taking.


Egan Bernal after Stage 20 of the 2019 Tour de France. Photo: Pauline Ballet /ASO

Egan Bernal is poised to become Colombia’s showiest sporting export: the country’s first Tour de France winner and the youngest of any nationality since 1909.

There is one final stage left to go and while it’s a bit of a trek. Yet most of the headlines you’ll see would have declared Bernal the winner already, even if Stage 21 of the 2019 Tour de France isn’t that demanding.

Newbie Tour de France watchers might wonder why nobody is going to go on the charge on Sunday.

The Team Ineos rider became the yellow jersey wearer after Stage 19 was reduced due to dangerous conditions.

Stage 20, the penultimate stage of the tour, has also been drastically reduced due to dangerous conditions. Bernal had 48 seconds over second-placed Julian Alaphilippe and over a minute on teammate and defending champion Geraint Thomas.

Bernal held onto the jersey on Stage 20 and he has been declared the winner already.

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Stage 21: Why Bernal is almost certain of victory

Sunday’s final parade to Paris embarks late and is due to finish beneath the Arc de Triomphe. The Colombian only needs to cross the finish line on Sunday’s parade into Paris to win the 2019 edition.

The final stage has long been considered a victory parade with the yellow jersey and his teammates toasting each other with champagne and then leading the race onto the Champs-Élysées with a few sprints to boot.

But it’s not always been like this. Four decades ago, Bernard Hinault and Joop Zoetemelk slogged it out in a duel through the hills that saw them finished almost two minutes ahead of the rest.

But here’s the thing: it’s not actually written into the race rules that you can’t go rogue and launch a lone attack. It is etiquette, though, and a break from the courtesy and tradition will result in a right old row.

Bernal leads Thomas by one minute and 11 seconds overall and Jumbo-Visma’s Dutch rider Steven Kruijswijk by one minute and 31 seconds.

Can one of them make up the lost time? Will they? Well, it’s been a wild and crazy tour, but it can’t be that crazy.

Tour de France 2019 winner: Who is Egan Bernal?

Bernal grew up at altitude and won the Tour de France on the highest slopes, but he learned to ride in the foggy forests around his home town.

Bernal was born in Bogota and grew up 42 kilometres north in Zipaquira, a mining and agricultural town, which sits at an elevation of 2650 metres in a valley surrounded by mountains.

His father was a watchman and his mother graded cut flowers for export.

As a child, Bernal took up cross-country biking and trained in the nearby woods under the guidance of Fabio Rodriguez, a Zipaquira native who had ridden in the Spanish Vuelta.

Young cyclists can hear the roar of a chainsaw and see other youngsters earn their living by cutting down huge trees and carrying them on their shoulders to trucks.

“That’s why I keep telling kids that it’s better to get up early and train by bike,” Rodriguez told AFP.

Pablo Masuera Zambrano, who coached Bernal, said that financial pressure almost persuaded the youngster to give up, despite a silver in the world junior cross-country championships in Norway in 2014 and a bronze in 2015 in Andorra.

“He came from a very low income family,” Masuera said.

“He started at university, in media studies,” said Masuera. “He got a scholarship.”

“He wanted to quit because he wanted to be a journalist.”

Bernal was recruited by Italian Gianni Savio who needed a climber for his Androni team. After two promising years, Sky swooped and bought his contract for 250000 euros.

“He’s a good person,” Savio told AFP. “He has kept the humility he had when he joined our team.”

In June, Bernal won the Tour of Switzerland but insisted the victory did not change his role at Ineos behind 2018 Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas.

“Geraint will be our leader and my job is to help him,” Bernal said.

Additional reporting by AFP.