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Stage 19 of the 2021 Tour de France was one of the last remaining opportunities for sprinters to score a win. But sometimes the best plans just never have a chance to unfold. Matej Mohorič rode to a second stage win on a solo move launched from the front of a breakaway.
After nearly three weeks of racing, the peloton is still nervous, and a crash gapped the Deceuninck-Quick-Step “Wolfpack” at just two kilometers into the stage. Another crash some 50km later further allowed the 20 men on the front of the race to get more of a gap.
With a time trial and a sprint stage remaining, teams were looking to stay safe, and save legs for the final two stages.
Here’s what the stars said after the 19th stage of the 2021 Tour de France:
Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-Quick-Step): 111th, at 20:50
While stage 19 was one of two remaining opportunities for Mark Cavendish to surpass the record for Tour stage victories, the Manx Missile and his “Wolfpack” could not control the 20-strong break that was established after a crash some 2km into the stage. Another crash 50km later all but assured the stage win would come from the break.
After giving up the chase at 100km to go, Cav & Co. had a relatively relaxed stage. The next opportunity for the Manx Missle to score a win will come Sunday, in Paris. Cav has won here four times previously and will be primed to take the win and a piece of history should he do it. Regardless of the win, Cavendish has only to finish the Tour to be awarded the final green jersey.
“There are still two stages before the end, we have to get to Paris. I don’t really think about it yet, but It’s been a long time, it has been ten years [since the previous green jersey],” Cavendish said. “It’s just nice to be able to wear it. Of course, the probability that I can keep it high, but you shouldn’t sell the bear’s skin before you have killed him.”
Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma): 46th, at 20:50
Jonas Vingegaar has stepped into the void left by the initially selected team captain Primoz Roglic. He’s battled Pogacar in the high mountains, seemingly the only other rider to be able to force the yellow jersey into a bit of minor discomfort.
Vingegaard is in second overall, a scant six seconds ahead of Richard Carapaz.
“I didn’t have my best day today. It was very hard and a mental battle. So you can imagine that I am very happy with my performance. The fact that I am second in the Tour de France after the last mountain stage is great,” said Vingegaard. “I started the Tour in service of Primoz, but I had not dared to dream this. I also have to thank the team. Sepp, Wout, and Mike were amazing.”
“It is looking good now for the podium in Paris, but we have seen before in this Tour that it can also go differently. So tomorrow we have to go full steam ahead in the time trial,” he said.
Christophe Laporte (Cofidis): 2nd, at :58
Coming by Casper Pedersen in the final few hundred meters, Christophe Laporte rode into second place on the stage. While the Cofidis win-drought looks to continue for another year — 2008 was the last time the squad won a stage at the Tour — Laporte appeared to be indifferent with how the stage unfolded, and the ultimate outcome of the day.
“I did the race I wanted to do. I said that I wanted a strong breakaway, that’s what happened. I was there, and this was not easy to be there,” Laporte said. “[Mohorič] was much stronger than us. We were all on our toes.
“I did what I could to get the second place. I am disappointed but I cannot regret it. This is disappointing to be second again but [we] couldn’t do better.”
Max Walscheid (Qhubeka-NextHash): 12th, at 2:37
The Qhubeka-Assos rider Max Walscheid was one of 20 men to escape from the front of the main group at 2km into the stage when a small touch of wheels tangled many others.
Active in the final 35km, Walsheid several times tried to bridge up to the eventual stage-winner Mohorič but was unable to do so. Walscheid finished just outside of the top 10 on the day.
“I managed to get across in the group after the sprint, and was really happy with that, but with the short climb at 37km to go, it was really a shame that I got dropped there and that in the end was my story of the day,” said Walscheid. “The break went today pretty fast, it wasn’t as hard a start as the other days but it was definitely a tricky final and it was a very high-class front group in front. We knew that we had to go full flat out because the bunch was chasing and it’s always a crucial moment when the gap stays around one minute, but finally they gave up and we could ride for the victory.”
“As for Mohorič, I’m quite impressed because he was already in the early break and he already used some energy there so chapeau to him to win in that way.”