Sluffy, I've been reading a bit about the race, and noted that, due to incidents with the weather, some parts of the route had to be changed, or shortened.
Did this have any effect on the outcome of the race, or would the Colombian have won regardless?
It made the event extremely dramatic at the time but the cyclist it probably most effected was Geraint Thomas and his chance of retaining his title.
There are a great number of things going on in a race, particularly a Tour race like this, than simply first man past the post wins.
Leading up to the Friday the last but one race day, Saturday being the last and Sunday the leader in yellow is never challenged - a fantastic French rider (Allaphillipe), was cycling out of his skin to lead the race by around a minute and a half - but there were big question marks about his ability in the high Alps (and the altitude of them). Not only that but his Team is a 'sprinters' team - one with riders whose focus and skills are to win 'sprinters' stages on the Tour (the ones that are generally flatish from start to finish) and not a GC (General Contender) team, who are staffed with people who can climb very well, time trial very well (pedal for long distances in front of everyone else at a very fast speed - so no other team can overtake you and control the race instead of you). The best can even TT and climb mountains as well - and the Team leader is basically carried by his team for the last possible moment, then he has to earn his money by converting all their effort into a win.
Anyway back to that Friday.
The stage had two big mountains in it towards the end, the last being a huge one - and the plan was to go up the next to last mountain as quickly as possible to crack the French lad.
There where 5 real contenders behind Alaphillipe all of them known and proven GC's (General Contenders - think overall winners) but one of the, another French lad - and perhaps France's real hope of winning - pulled out in tears with a bad leg - so we were down to one pretender to the crown and four realistic ones.
As Bernal and Thomas were team mates (Bernal being in second at the time with Thomas just 5 seconds behind in third) the plan was for one of them to attack on the mountain, forcing the others to chase him - otherwise their GC hopes were at risk, with the other team rider, riding at the back of the chase basically having a rest (the effort is in a rider facing wind resistance and the gain from others is slipstreaming him).
Thomas attacked first, Alaphillipe fell back, but the other 3 plus Bernal at the rear caught up with him. As soon as they did Bernal attacked with Thomas having a rest instead. This one-two attacking would have carried on until one of the broke free.
It happened to be Bernal from his first attack.
Alaphillipe lost his lead - in fact slipped back to fifth behind the other 4 known GC riders by the top of the mountain, with Bernal in the lead and Thomas second as it stood at that point.
As the riders cycled down the hill to the foot of the monster climb, Bernal retained his lead but Alaphillipe with brilliant technique caught up to the other three riders.
Just about that time pictures started coming in of lower down the mountain of a flash hailstorm that flooded the road and made the stage unsafe to continue any further.
So the race was called and the times taken for the riders at the top of the mountain they just climbed - putting the Columbian in first and Thomas second.
If the weather had not intervened it was now certain that Alaphillipe would have been in trouble and lost considerable time on the massive mountain - so he's probably lucky to end up in fifth position overall at the end of the race - to be honest he was the real star of the Tour and I guess he must now consider changing himself from an outstanding one day racer, and see if he can turn himself into a GC contender - I'm sure he will because France is desperate for a Tour winner of its own race.
So would Bernal increase his lead on the big mountain or get caught by the other 3?
Well Bernal was riding with Simon Yates at the front when the race was called off - Yates was no threat to GC, he was too far back on time to be involved - but he is an excellent rider in the mountains (and is currently the reigning Tour of Spain holder), so I have no doubt that they would have road together, taking turns at the front, with a deal basically that Yates would be allowed to win the stage as a reward for helping to put/keep Bernal in yellow on the road/at the intended stage end.
It would be hard to imagine that the other two GC riders would have closed down and passed Bernal and Yates, and even if they did they would then have a rested Thomas (and one of Thomas and Bernal's team mates) then to sprint ahead of them, and have to catch them too. The team mate would bury himself with Thomas following, and once he had nothing left to give the Thomas would bury himself all the way to the win and the yellow jersey at the top.
The short Saturday race (because of landslides) also raced up a shorter mountain, the big one of that day was cancelled - and even with there being a gap of just 20 seconds from Thomas to third place, the other two GC didn't have it in them to attack him - in fact they both ended up losing a handful of seconds more to him.
I think how things ended at the top of the smaller mountain on Friday more or less would be how things ended up in Paris.
I think Thomas would have cut the time difference to Bernal but still ended up second and I think Alaphillipe probably would have lost a few more minutes and drop him down from firth place to lower down the top ten - possibly even out of it - which he certainly would not have deserved.
Bernal comes across as a really decent young man and their seemed genuine warmth from Thomas to him for his win.
I know cycling has its shittier moments but this was the closest race in ages in respect of who might win it, in got the French hopes up - only to be dashed - and brought a number of the new wave of riders to the non cycling publics attention (a shout out to Emanuel Buchmann from Germany, who finished fourth, who is yet another new face to many).
The Tour of Spain (Vuelta) starts in a months time (24th Aug) and should be fun with a separate set of riders (most GC cyclist either just ride the TdF or the Tour of Italy and Spain that are either side of the TdF, in order to give them time to physically recover from them.
Simon Yates (who did ride the TdF, but only as a helper (domestique) for his brother Adam) will be there and probably too Tom Dumoulin who crashed out of the Italian Tour (Giro) and was still injured for the TdF.
I expect Sky to put some of their young riders into their team more for experience than as a serious attempt to win it.
No doubt all sorts of unexpecting things will happen - it usually does.
Should be fun anyway!