Egan Bernal is ominous. He was ominous last year in his role as lieutenant to Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas. He was ominous at the Tour de Suisse, in June this year, as he effortlessly won the race and gave off ‘the look’. And he was ominous, yesterday, on the Col de l’Iseran, off the leash and up the road attacking.
To make matters worse for his rivals his future looks pretty ominous too.
He’s twenty-two years old; in Grand Tour terms he’s basically a toddler, still forming rudimentary words and waking up with poo in his nappy. Imagine how good he’ll be once he masters the basics.
A shortened stage twenty today, in storm threatened Alps, he was never threatened. The main group of contenders, chopped and hacked down to the usual suspects, as Thomas, Bernal, Kruijswijk, Buchmann, Valverde, Landa, and a small band of loyal domestiques tapped out a ferocious pace on the single, thirty-odd kilometre climb of the day, up to Val Thorens.Embed from Getty Images
Alaphilippe, no longer in Yellow, cracked with many kilometres to the summit. That he lost a mere three minutes or so is a huge feather in his already copiously feathered hat. Or casquette, rather.
In the final reckoning he stands fifth overall.
Still, on the Richter scale of unlikely happenings, a flippin’ miracle.
The final kilometre, right up there in the sky, was steep. Those riders bunched around the top half dozen on GC waited for this ramp to go hell-for-leather in the hope that someone, anyone, in their proximity, might crack and lose a minute.
It didn’t happen.
Thirty seconds earlier Italian tactical master Vincenzo Nibali had capped a somewhat anonymous Tour with a stunning stage win. Having proved, again, that sometimes doomed early breakaways aren’t, in fact, doomed. He grimaced his way to the line and held everyone off.
(Nearly) old enough to be Bernal’s dad.Embed from Getty Images
The Colombian, meanwhile, crossed the line in back-slapping style next to courteous, gracious Geraint Thomas. Bernal, barring some kind of bizarre Parisian mishap on the streets of the capital, is our winner.
The fourth different Sky/Ineos rider in eight Tours de France to wear Yellow in Paris.
Barely old enough to drive a car or drink a beer.