Why Egan Bernal Won The 2019 Tour de France

hypster
hypster Posts: 1,229
edited July 2019 in Pro race
It's always been my contention that at the top of any sport the difference in performance between the main contenders is very small. As such, competitions such as the Tour de France are very often decided on luck. This year an extraordinary series of events occurred which conspired together to make Egan Bernal the 2019 Tour de France champion.

1. He crashed in training and broke his collar bone preparing for the Giro d'Italia putting him out of the race. He was one of the favourites for this event and had this not happened he would have ridden the race and at best may have been a domestique to Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas in the Tour de France but may have not ridden at all depending on his condition after the Giro.

This I think is one of those events that Buddhists refer to when they like to give an example of how you shouldn't judge an event as either good or bad. If this hadn't happened then I don't believe Bernal would have won the Tour de France this year.

2. Geraint Thomas' early season preparation for the Tour de France was less than optimal and his crash in the Tour de Suisse and subsequent withdrawal didn't help either. Bernal in contrast went on to win the event and so had the ideal preparation for the Tour. It also showed how quickly he had recovered from his earlier crash.

3. Chris Froome crashed out of the Dauphine and therefore the Tour de France. Had he still been there even if Bernal had been riding the event it would of almost certainly been in the service of Froome and Thomas as joint leaders. In my opinion that would have had a double effect. a) Bernal would have lost time as a domestique in the earlier stages performing various duties for the team. b) Unless both Froome and Thomas had either failed badly or had some sort of setback Bernal wouldn't have been given the freedom to attack in the way he was subsequently allowed to do.

Now we have arrived at the Tour as events actually transpired but circumstances still evolved in Bernal's favour.

4. The course suited him with little ITT mileage and a surfeit of high mountains back-loaded.

5. He never lost any time due to mechanicals or crashes apart from the 23 seconds lost to Alaphilippe supporting Thomas after he was brought down in stage 8.

6. As the race progressed it was obvious that Thomas was below-par compared to last year. Not only that but the good luck he rode last year without any mechanicals or crashes had deserted him and meant he was also struggling this year with three incidents. Only one of which actually cost him any time but the others may have had some physical or even mental effect on him. I think he recognised this and encouraged Bernal to attack selflessly putting the team's performance before his own.

7. The only real competitor in the high mountains, Thibaut Pinot, injured himself on stage 17 and struggled to compete on the Galibier where Bernal first took time and eventually was forced to pull out on the next stage effectively leaving Bernal unopposed. Bernal actually lost time to Pinot in both the big Pyrenean mountain stages and it looked probable that he would have at least matched Bernal in the Alps if not taken even more time out of him if he wasn't injured.

The curtailed stages due to the weather could have helped Ineos seal the deal as well making it easier to defend the relatively slender lead he had established on stage 19 into the much-shortened final stage.

Another couple of factors could have also played a part but I admit they are debatable.

First of all the Ineos train wasn't firing on all cylinders which most people would agree was instrumental in the previous six TdF victories. This would have affected how the race progressed and may have had a negative impact more on Geraint Thomas' tactics than Egan Bernal. Thomas has been used to using the Sky train as a vehicle to launch an attack in the final kilometres of a climb after first grinding down the opposition. Egan Bernal has not really benefited from these sort of tactics and the sort of climber he is is more more able to rely on his own abilities.

You could also debate that Tom Dumoulin wasn't there either but I don't think the course suited him for the same reasons that it suited Bernal which is why he originally chose to prioritise the Giro and not the Tour this year. I don't think he would have threatened GC anyway even if he had been fully fit. He only entered the Tour because he crashed out of the Giro relatively early on but then recognised his injury was not going to allow him to compete so pulled out.

As things turned out Egan Bernal was the strongest rider remaining when it really mattered in the final mountain stages. To be honest I think he will find it a lot harder to defend that title as the course set next year may well be different again and the competition will be different and may well be more clued up to his abilities and weaknesses. Always assuming of course that he is even in the mix.
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Comments

  • craigus89
    craigus89 Posts: 887
    So in short, a set of circumstances came together that meant he won. Same as every other year/rider then?

    What's your point? That he isn't as good as he is made out to be?
  • hypster
    hypster Posts: 1,229
    Craigus89 wrote:
    So in short, a set of circumstances came together that meant he won. Same as every other year/rider then?

    What's your point? That he isn't as good as he is made out to be?

    Not at all. My point is there was an extraordinary sequence of events which could have kept him out of the race in the first place and also subsequent developments within the race which facilitated his win.

    As I said at the end he was the best rider left standing and is a worthy winner. Please propose another winner of the yellow jersey who has had such a fortuitous route to the title if you wish.
  • alanparsons
    alanparsons Posts: 529
    hypster wrote:
    As I said at the end he was the best rider left standing and is a worthy winner. Please propose another winner of the yellow jersey who has had such a fortuitous route to the title if you wish.

    Niballi.
  • cougie
    cougie Posts: 22,512
    I'm sure you could find extraordinary circumstances for most winners.

    It was a great victory.
  • craigus89
    craigus89 Posts: 887
    hypster wrote:
    Craigus89 wrote:
    So in short, a set of circumstances came together that meant he won. Same as every other year/rider then?

    What's your point? That he isn't as good as he is made out to be?

    Not at all. My point is there was an extraordinary sequence of events which could have kept him out of the race in the first place and also subsequent developments within the race which facilitated his win.

    As I said at the end he was the best rider left standing and is a worthy winner. Please propose another winner of the yellow jersey who has had such a fortuitous route to the title if you wish.

    Our definitions of extraordinary don't align.

    I could boil your post down into this: He ended up riding a race he wasn't originally scheduled for, the defending champs form wasn't as good as last year, the favorite didn't compete due to injury and the course suited him.

    Sounds pretty standard to me.
  • rich_pcp
    rich_pcp Posts: 113
    You missed out how extraordinary it was that Mr Bernal snr forgot to wear a condom that night 22 and a bit years ago.
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 39,908
    I may be misremembering but I didn't think Bernal lost time on Stage 8 due to helping Thomas. I thought Bernal was allowed to continue his own race. Also, didn't he lose time to Thomas at La Planche?
  • And there was me thinking he won because he rode his bicycle around the course in a time that was quicker than anyone else managed to ride their bicycle around the course.

    Never realised it was so complicated.
  • blazing_saddles
    blazing_saddles Posts: 21,652
    Pross wrote:
    I may be misremembering but I didn't think Bernal lost time on Stage 8 due to helping Thomas. I thought Bernal was allowed to continue his own race. Also, didn't he lose time to Thomas at La Planche?

    You are absolutely correct. Bernal stayed with the leaders on stage 8, while the rest of the team did their F1 bit and Bernal did lose time to Thomas on stage 6. He actually finished behind Richie Porte.

    I know you already know this, but it would be nice if folks could check their facts if unsure.
    And there was me thinking he won because he rode his bicycle around the course in a time that was quicker than anyone else managed to ride their bicycle around the course.

    Never realised it was so complicated.

    It certainly is a lot more complicated than riding his bike around a course quicker than everyone else.
    "Science is a tool for cheaters". An anonymous French PE teacher.
  • Lanterne_Rogue
    Lanterne_Rogue Posts: 4,091
    Controversial opinion, but Bernal won because Ineos are less wedded to a single tactic or strategy and more open to attacking racing than the stereotype allows. Even if the guy attaching isn't necessarily their number one shot.

    You guys know more than me. Other than Froome and Thomas last year, when was the last time a team genuinely let two of their own riders sort it out on the road?

    Edit: Movistar allowing their 'leaders' to screw up repeatedly according to their own whims doesn't count!
  • above_the_cows
    above_the_cows Posts: 11,406
    hypster wrote:
    As I said at the end he was the best rider left standing and is a worthy winner. Please propose another winner of the yellow jersey who has had such a fortuitous route to the title if you wish.

    Niballi.

    Good shout, but I'm going to raise you Wiggins. :wink:
    Correlation is not causation.
  • PhilipPirrip
    PhilipPirrip Posts: 616
    You really need to stop wanking over and spaffing off about the 2019 Tour de France. The result's been declared. Move on with your life.

    You're overthinking the things which you never had nor never will have control of.

    The pros have moved on since Sunday. Learn to do the same.
  • Matthewfalle
    Matthewfalle Posts: 17,380
    oh come on, the OP has spent ages thinking about, choosing learned words he thinks a blogger/journo would, drafting, re drafting, re typing, re thinking, re drafting, re thinking and then nervously posting this.

    give him a chance.....

    #fairdo
    Postby team47b » Sun Jun 28, 2015 11:53 am

    De Sisti wrote:
    This is one of the silliest threads I've come across. :lol:

    Recognition at last Matthew, well done!, a justified honour :D
    smithy21 wrote:

    He's right you know.
  • m.r.m.
    m.r.m. Posts: 3,297
    Is there a specific reason you are ganging up on him? This is a cycling forum and he is discussing cycling. If you are bored with it or don't feel like contributing, why don't you just move to the next thread?
    PTP Champion 2019, 2022 & 2023
  • green_mark
    green_mark Posts: 74
    hypster wrote:
    It's always been my contention that at the top of any sport the difference in performance between the main contenders is very small. As such, competitions such as the Tour de France are very often decided on luck. This year an extraordinary series of events occurred which conspired together to make Egan Bernal the 2019 Tour de France champion.

    1. He crashed in training and broke his collar bone preparing for the Giro d'Italia putting him out of the race. He was one of the favourites for this event and had this not happened he would have ridden the race and at best may have been a domestique to Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas in the Tour de France but may have not ridden at all depending on his condition after the Giro.

    This I think is one of those events that Buddhists refer to when they like to give an example of how you shouldn't judge an event as either good or bad. If this hadn't happened then I don't believe Bernal would have won the Tour de France this year.

    2. Geraint Thomas' early season preparation for the Tour de France was less than optimal and his crash in the Tour de Suisse and subsequent withdrawal didn't help either. Bernal in contrast went on to win the event and so had the ideal preparation for the Tour. It also showed how quickly he had recovered from his earlier crash.

    3. Chris Froome crashed out of the Dauphine and therefore the Tour de France. Had he still been there even if Bernal had been riding the event it would have almost certainly been in the service of Froome and Thomas as joint leaders. In my opinion that would have had a double effect. a) Bernal would have lost time as a domestique in the earlier stages performing various duties for the team. b) Unless both Froome and Thomas had either failed badly or had some sort of setback Bernal wouldn't have been given the freedom to attack in the way he was subsequently allowed to do.

    Now we have arrived at the Tour as events actually transpired but circumstances still evolved in Bernal's favour.

    4. The course suited him with little ITT mileage and a surfeit of high mountains back-loaded.

    5. He never lost any time due to mechanicals or crashes apart from the 23 seconds lost to Alaphilippe supporting Thomas after he was brought down in stage 8.

    6. As the race progressed it was obvious that Thomas was below-par compared to last year. Not only that but the good luck he rode last year without any mechanicals or crashes had deserted him and meant he was also struggling this year with three incidents. Only one of which actually cost him any time but the others may have had some physical or even mental effect on him. I think he recognised this and encouraged Bernal to attack selflessly putting the team's performance before his own.

    7. The only real competitor in the high mountains, Thibaut Pinot, injured himself on stage 17 and struggled to compete on the Galibier where Bernal first took time and eventually was forced to pull out on the next stage effectively leaving Bernal unopposed. Bernal actually lost time to Pinot in both the big Pyrenean mountain stages and it looked probable that he would have at least matched Bernal in the Alps if not taken even more time out of him if he wasn't injured.

    The curtailed stages due to the weather could have helped Ineos seal the deal as well making it easier to defend the relatively slender lead he had established on stage 19 into the much-shortened final stage.

    Another couple of factors could have also played a part but I admit they are debatable.

    First of all the Ineos train wasn't firing on all cylinders which most people would agree was instrumental in the previous six TdF victories. This would have affected how the race progressed and may have had a negative impact more on Geraint Thomas' tactics than Egan Bernal. Thomas has been used to using the Sky train as a vehicle to launch an attack in the final kilometres of a climb after first grinding down the opposition. Egan Bernal has not really benefited from these sort of tactics and the sort of climber he is is more more able to rely on his own abilities.

    You could also debate that Tom Dumoulin wasn't there either but I don't think the course suited him for the same reasons that it suited Bernal which is why he originally chose to prioritise the Giro and not the Tour this year. I don't think he would have threatened GC anyway even if he had been fully fit. He only entered the Tour because he crashed out of the Giro relatively early on but then recognised his injury was not going to allow him to compete so pulled out.

    As things turned out Egan Bernal was the strongest rider remaining when it really mattered in the final mountain stages. To be honest I think he will find it a lot harder to defend that title as the course set next year may well be different again and the competition will be different and may well be more clued up to his abilities and weaknesses. Always assuming of course that he is even in the mix.

    Points 2 and 6 should be conflated. Basically Geraint didn't prepare as well as he could and was undercooked.

    With respect to your points 2&6, 3, and 7 - one of the things that makes a tour winner is the ability to train and race a bike hard without crashing. The fact that Egan stayed upright when it mattered while several potential opponents (Froome, Thomas, Demoulin and Pinot) didn't is a testament of his sporting ability. It was not luck.
  • carbonclem
    carbonclem Posts: 1,542
    UCI/ASO arranged the win to rinse the enormous Colombian market, having stabilised the U.K. market now.

    #tinfoilhat :D
    2020/2021/2022 Metric Century Challenge Winner
  • ocdupalais
    ocdupalais Posts: 4,208
    hypster wrote:
    As I said at the end he was the best rider left standing and is a worthy winner. Please propose another winner of the yellow jersey who has had such a fortuitous route to the title if you wish.

    Niballi.

    Good shout, but I'm going to raise you Wiggins. :wink:

    Wiggins level of fortuitousness was off the scale that year with his lucky wins in Paris-Nice, Romandie, Dauphiné before his Tour fluke. That he then scraped his way to a jammy Olympic TT ahead of notorious duffers like Cancellara and Tony Martin shows that some riders really do have all the luck. And bulging Jiffy bags, obvs...
  • above_the_cows
    above_the_cows Posts: 11,406
    OCDuPalais wrote:
    hypster wrote:
    As I said at the end he was the best rider left standing and is a worthy winner. Please propose another winner of the yellow jersey who has had such a fortuitous route to the title if you wish.

    Niballi.

    Good shout, but I'm going to raise you Wiggins. :wink:

    Wiggins level of fortuitousness was off the scale that year with his lucky wins in Paris-Nice, Romandie, Dauphiné before his Tour fluke. That he then scraped his way to a jammy Olympic TT ahead of notorious duffers like Cancellara and Tony Martin shows that some riders really do have all the luck. And bulging Jiffy bags, obvs...

    Oh here's you getting all serious. No, no, no everyone knows it was secretly Sir Dave who gave Bertie that dodgy steak and evil corporate overlord Murdoch who bribed ASO to provide a Wiggins friendly route. And they nearly got away for it except for some pesky kid named Fenton.
    Correlation is not causation.
  • RichN95.
    RichN95. Posts: 27,131
    hypster wrote:
    As I said at the end he was the best rider left standing and is a worthy winner. Please propose another winner of the yellow jersey who has had such a fortuitous route to the title if you wish.

    Niballi.

    Good shout, but I'm going to raise you Wiggins. :wink:
    Oscar Pereiro surely.

    Not only did he get given a 30 minute bonus, but then Landis tested positive for a drug he claims he didn't take (despite admitting to taking all the other ones)
    Twitter: @RichN95
  • ocdupalais
    ocdupalais Posts: 4,208
    OCDuPalais wrote:
    hypster wrote:
    As I said at the end he was the best rider left standing and is a worthy winner. Please propose another winner of the yellow jersey who has had such a fortuitous route to the title if you wish.

    Niballi.

    Good shout, but I'm going to raise you Wiggins. :wink:

    Wiggins level of fortuitousness was off the scale that year with his lucky wins in Paris-Nice, Romandie, Dauphiné before his Tour fluke. That he then scraped his way to a jammy Olympic TT ahead of notorious duffers like Cancellara and Tony Martin shows that some riders really do have all the luck. And bulging Jiffy bags, obvs...

    Oh here's you getting all serious. No, no, no everyone knows it was secretly Sir Dave who gave Bertie that dodgy steak and evil corporate overlord Murdoch who bribed ASO to provide a Wiggins friendly route. And they nearly got away for it except for some pesky kid named Fenton.

    Yeah - on re-reading, I did sound a bit serious... soz. I think I might be a bit grumpy because it’s all finished for this year. It’s a similar feeling to the day after Boxing Day when the happy memories are fading, all the batteries are already flat on the new toys and all there is to look forward to is visits from hung-over and bickering aunties and uncles...
  • ocdupalais
    ocdupalais Posts: 4,208
    Anyway, I always thought Sastre’s was pretty jammy, too.
  • landmannnn
    landmannnn Posts: 13
    The OPs analysis is thought provoking, the reality being that it was an engaging tour for those of us that followed it.
  • TheBigBean
    TheBigBean Posts: 20,317
    Schleck is another lucky winner. Thomas too.

    Going back further. Lemond is lucky that he didn't get properly shot. Roche is lucky that Lemond got shot. Riis is lucky that his blood still worked at 60%.
  • FocusZing
    FocusZing Posts: 4,373
    Bernal was lucky the wheel was invented too I don't think he'd be the rider he is today without them.
  • ShutupJens
    ShutupJens Posts: 1,373
    TheBigBean wrote:
    Schleck is another lucky winner. Thomas too.

    Going back further. Lemond is lucky that he didn't get properly shot. Roche is lucky that Lemond got shot. Riis is lucky that his blood still worked at 60%.

    Schleck was the best pure climber of the time. Very rarely has someone been able to push Contador so close - I think this is a touch unfair.

    Also Nibali rode the first week of his tour like a boss, taking a stage win and a serious chunk of time on Contador - a man who failed to drop him on the first MTF and had a 2 minute deficit when he had to leave the race which he wasn't guaranteed to get back
  • RichN95.
    RichN95. Posts: 27,131
    Merckx was very lucky. Not only did his parents' DNA mix in just the right way to produce a body exceptionally fit for purpose, but he was born in one of only five or six countries that cared about cycling at that time. If he'd had unathletic parents and been born in Bangladesh, then he'd have never got close to winning.
    Twitter: @RichN95
  • kingstongraham
    kingstongraham Posts: 25,999
    hypster wrote:
    The curtailed stages due to the weather could have helped Ineos seal the deal as well making it easier to defend the relatively slender lead he had established on stage 19 into the much-shortened final stage.

    Can't believe stage 19 doesn't get its own numbered entry. He was ahead halfway through an abandoned stage and gained all of his winning time advantage.
  • ridgerider
    ridgerider Posts: 2,851
    I'm with the OP on this...

    I think we have seen over the past few years that perhaps CFs preparation for the Tour starts with the Vuelta, and as GT shows, the prep needs to continue through the winter, and as BW showed needs to ripen into a fruitful spring.

    Bernal, via a series of unfortunate events, found himself in the race, and the rest is history.
    Half man, Half bike
  • iainf72
    iainf72 Posts: 15,784
    This whole thread sounds like when people realise there is no such thing as free will.....
    Fckin' Quintana … that creep can roll, man.
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 39,908
    Ridgerider wrote:
    I'm with the OP on this...

    I think we have seen over the past few years that perhaps CFs preparation for the Tour starts with the Vuelta, and as GT shows, the prep needs to continue through the winter, and as BW showed needs to ripen into a fruitful spring.

    Bernal, via a series of unfortunate events, found himself in the race, and the rest is history.

    I've seen quite a few comments like this and I find them a bit odd. GT was second to the joint leader of his team despite missing most of his main warm arm race, having a couple of crashes, puncturing at a key time and being unable (from a team dynamic) to chase the winner when he made his race winning move. If anything he showed that you can enjoy your winter and still be a contender at the Tour.