Tour de France: Stage 19 reactions

Romain Bardet (AG2R)

“It was just my bike rider’s instinct. It wasn’t planned at all. The whole team put in an incredible performance. Mikael Cherel just pushed, and pushed and pushed me to do it. At first I thought about GC but when I caught Rui Costa I knew I was going to go for the stage win. That was all that mattered at that point. I have no more words.

“I had no idea what was going on out there. I did a good descent together with Cherel then we had a chance before the penultimate climb. I knew I that I could maintain my pace but you’re never 100 per cent sure. I’ve now won two stages in two years. I just hope can keep this going for two more days.”

Chris Froome (Sky)

“I think that I hit one of the white lines on the road and lost my front wheel.

“I’m okay, I’m lucky that nothing is seriously injured. I just lost a bit of skin but today is a day when I’m grateful for that four-minute advantage to fall back on a bit. It was great for me to have teammates all the way up until the finish there with Wout in particular and all the guys. It was a great team effort and it feels great to be one day closer to Paris.

“Today showed exactly why … A crash like that could have gone either way and I’m grateful that nothing is injured. Never a quiet day at the Tour.

“I knew that the car was far back, and my bike, I could see it wasn’t useable after the crash. Thanks to Geraint for his bike. I rode that to the finish, and it was alright.

“Tomorrow is going to be hard, it’s going to be really hard and I’m sure that I’m going to be a bit stiff after today. Hopefully I can rely on my teammates and it’s just one last push.”

Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo)

“I slid out and was on the ground. I was fast to bet back on the bike but there were tricky parts with a lot of corners, crashes in front of me. At the bottom there were little groups. I started the climb with a gap, 20 seconds back and I couldn’t close it. At the bottom, I tried to come back, I had to try and close it there as fast as I could, otherwise it would have been difficult. Pete Stetina pulled on the flat part, but when you start 20 seconds down, I couldn’t close it and I just exploded.

“I’m not too badly injured, just a hip and elbow. The classification is gone. I’m tenth now, but that was not the goal.”

Nairo Quintana (Movistar)

“It’s almost like stuff of God, a miracle to be here at the finish today. I was feeling really bad – what is happening into my body is difficult to explain right now. We’ve fought a whole lot from the very start. I struggled a lot, and my team-mates helped me out immensely, they were phenomenal. Thanks to them, I’m still here, on my bike. I feel tired, my body doesn’t work right, my legs don’t work properly. When I finish the stage, it’s like normal for me, but my body just doesn’t do things right. More than condition, I profited from my class today. Class never leaves you. At some point of the race, I even thought about withdrawing.”

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) 

“It wasn’t just a hard day: it was complete carnage, even more than previous stages. Before Froome and Mollema crashed, the race was already full on – Astana was pushing before those incidents and continued, which is normal. We couldn’t ride faster today. Froome had those problems, yet he’s still the strongest in this race and recovered. To be honest, I saw the stage win so close – however, that attack by Bardet into the descent was courageous, hats off to him because the downhill was full of danger today. Tomorrow’s stage might be one for alliances between squads – Astana played it well today. I’m enjoying this race, even considering the suffering a Tour de France puts on us. I’m enjoying every single minute of this – it’s a wonderful feeling to be able to fight so strong after a hard Giro d’Italia. I rode more calm on yesterday’s TT, not going on full steam, and it really paid off today. We’ve still got some energies, yet the stage win seems out of reach for me, as I’m still close in the overall standings.”

Geraint Thomas (Sky)

“I could see Froome on the front and he was saying chill on the radio but he doesn’t do chill, does he. All of a sudden he’s on the floor and going ‘I need a bike, I need a bike,’ so I gave him mine. Then I waited for the team car although they did drive passed me. I wasn’t going to run to the finish but luckly they stopped a few hundred meters laters and I got on this, and that was that.”

Richie Porte (BMC)

“It was such a hard day. It was a mess in the final. Everyone kind of came down. It worked out well, we fought hard and tomorrow is another day. Today on the uphills and the corners it was slippery too. We will see what happens tomorrow and how it pans out. I gave it my all today.”

Diego Rosa (Astana)

“We knew that something was going to happen because everyone is at their limit. Aru showed he was feeling well yesterday in the time trial and so we decided to attack the stage today. We were proven right. And it also helped on the descent in the rain. We were safer up front.

“We kept saying that we’d take things day by day and try to pull something back. We’ve done it. It’s just a pity the Tour is almost over. But Tomorrow is another tough day and we gave a lot today. Tomorrow we’ll see who has recovered and who hasn’t.”