Vincenzo Nibali, the 2014 overall winner, made up for a disappointing Tour de France as he claimed a prestigious solo victory at Val Thorens at the end of a 59-km stage. This is his sixth stage win after the four he got five years and at La Toussuire in 2015. Egan Bernal rode home safely to retain the yellow jersey on the eve of the grand finale in Paris.
155 riders took the start of stage 20 in Albertville. Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida), Magnus Cort (Astana), Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates), Alberto Bettiol (EF Education First), Kevin Van Melsen (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Lilian Calmejane (Total Direct Energie) rode away at km 2.
23 riders chased them down: Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Tony Gallopin (AG2R-La Mondiale), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Sébastien Reichenbach (Groupama-FDJ), Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Omar Fraile and Gorka Izagirre (Astana), Michael Woods (EF Education First), Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott), Joey Rosskopf (CCC), Vegard Stake Laengen (UAE Team Emirates), Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo), Nicolas Roche (Sunweb), Pierre-Luc Périchon (Cofidis), Jens Keukeleire (Lotto-Soudal), Niccolo Bonifazio and Anthony Turgis (Total Direct Energie), Ilnur Zakarin and Nils Politt (Katusha-Alpecin), Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert), Stephen Cummings and Ben King (Dimension Data) and Maxime Bouet (Arkéa-Samsic). It made it a front group of 29 riders at km 19 with an advantage of two minutes over the peloton led by Team Ineos.
Périchon and Turgis attacked right at the bottom of the 33.4km long climb to Val Thorens. 30 kilometres before the end, Nibali and Zakarin formed a leading trio along with Périchon. It became a quartet when they were joined by Gallopin and Woods and Périchon courageously bridged the gap.
Jumbo-Visma took over from Ineos to lead the peloton strongly up the climb. Fraile caught up with the five leaders 17 kilometres before the end and with 15 kilometres to go, the time difference between the six escapees and the yellow jersey group was 1’15”. With 13 kilometres remaining, Julian Alaphilippe got dropped, soon followed by Romain Bardet while Nibali rode away solo at the front. The 2014 Tour de France winner had 1’ lead over the main group with 10km to go and 35″ with 5 kilometres to go.
Nibali forged on and struggled towards the end of the climb but held off the chase of Mikel Landa who had attacked from the yellow jersey group in the final part of the climb, which was led by Gregor Mühlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe).
It’s Nibali’s first victory since Milan-Sanremo last year. It’s also Bahrain-Merida’s second stage win in this Tour de France after Dylan Teuns victory on stage 6 to La Planche des Belles Filles. Bardet retained the polka dot jersey while Bernal retained the yellow jersey. Alaphilippe dropped down to fifth overall as Kruijswijk moved into the top 3 alongside Bernal’s Ineos team mate Geraint Thomas.
Vincenzo Nibali: “The last 500 metres, they never ended. I wanted to honour the Tour and finally I did it today. Yesterday I tried and today it was the right one. The climb was endless and when I saw that the group accelerated I tried it myself. I’m very happy!”.
“In the last week, I found the right sensations. It wasn’t easy to manage the race but I felt I had a good leg. This morning at the team meeting we decided to get into the break and so I left together with Dylan Teuns. The break was close-knit even though the main peloton never gave us great advantage.”