We’ve had more fun crunching the numbers in this year’s Tour de France than ever before. So many fascinating stats and facts have come with the race this year that we thought we’d share some as we look back on arguably the most fascinating Tour de France of the century.
0 – the winner who didn’t win
Egan Bernal becomes the eighth rider to win the Tour de France having not won a single stage. Bernal joins Firmin Lambot in 1922, Roger Walkowiak in 1956, Gastone Nencini in 1960, Lucien Aimar in 1966, Greg LeMond in 1990, Oscar Pereiro in 2006 and Chris Froome in 2017 to have done the same.
1 – Bardet and polka dot
Romain Bardet almost shares a zero with Bernal with regard to his KOM triumph. Bardet took the king of the mountains win but only won one climb, the category 1 Port De Lers in stage 15. If Bardet had targeted the polka dot jersey much earlier I dare say that he would have taken a lot more maximums across summits. This was a consolation prize for himself and AG2R La Mondiale after the tragedy of stage 14 where his campaign for the yellow jersey completely capitulated.
1 – Colombia gets its first win
They’ve long had a history at the Tour de France for possessing one of the most exciting climbing nations of the Tour, but now they finally have their first overall winner. The first half of the decade suggested that it would be Nairo Quintana who would take the first Tour title when he finished second behind Froome in 2013 and then third in 2016; but it’s the 22 year old who has created history for the great nation. Bernal is also the first rider since Alberto Contador in 2007 to win the Tour de France and best young rider’s jersey in the same year.
2 – bookending 1-2s
In 2012 Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome finished first and second in the Tour de France for Team Sky. In 2019 Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas finished first and second for Team Ineos. This bookends the decade really nicely for Team Ineos who have won their seventh Tour de France in eight editions. Incidentally after Wiggins and Froome, the last time a team celebrated 1st and 2nd in the Tour de France the year was 1986 and the riders were Greg LeMond and Bernard Hinault; the two riders who did the same in 1985 but the other way around.
3 – Bernal’s stint in yellow
Colombia’s new hero eventually spent just three days in the yellow jersey after taking it in a crazy stage 19. Bernal continues the dominance of Team Ineos (formerly Team Sky) at the Tour de France, but his time in the yellow jersey is the shortest length of time any of their Tour winners has spent in the maillot jaune. It’s been a different kind of race for Ineos, having had to do so little in terms of spending long amounts of time on the front of the race. There was a sense that they could pull the win off, but never has there been more doubt about it at the same time. They were far from their emphatic, dominant selves and if (that 2-letter word again) Thibaut Pinot had stayed injury-free we may have a very different story to tell.
3 – youthful victor
Sticking with the number 3, Egan Bernal becomes the third youngest winner of the Tour de France behind Henri Cornet who won the second edition aged just 19 years and 352 days. Francois Faber won in 1909 aged 22 years and 187 days.
3 – Movistar’s embarrassment of riches
Movistar have done again what they’ve become so good at doing. They’ve won another team classification, winning for the fourth time in five years. They’re also the current reigning team classification winners at the Vuelta a Espana and won last year’s Giro d’Italia team classification (Team Sky won this year’s). But they missed the big prize once again despite putting three riders in the top ten overall. Mikel Landa (6th at 4.23), Nairo Quintana (8th at 5.30) and Alejandro Valverde (9th at 6.12) could have had such a different story to tell if only they’d mastered their tactics better. It appeared that the team were fighting amongst themselves and this arguably cost them yellow. If the team hadn’t chased Quintana in stage 18 they may well have had at least one rider on the podium.
6 – evolution in sprinting
This year started without Marcel Kittel, without Mark Cavendish, and with Andre Greipel a shadow of his former self. In their stead no new dynasty has emerged so far to dominate sprints in the Tour de France; but maybe that’s what makes this element of cycling so thrilling to observe going forward. Mike Teunissen, Caleb Ewan, Wout Van Aert, Dylan Groenewegen, Peter Sagan, Elia Viviani; these are the names of the sprinters to have won in this year’s Tour de France. But Caleb Ewan’s victory on the final stage made him a three-time winner in his first Tour. Is Caleb going to be the next great in fast finishes?
7 – super Sagan’s seventh
He won stage 5 of the Tour de France and led the points classification from stage 3 onwards. Peter Sagan has a wonderful affinity for the colour green at the Tour; and this year he broke another record in his career. The Slovakian surpassed Erik Zabel as the rider with the most number of points classification victories with seven to his name.
12 – early stage winners
This stat may have completely changed if Dylan Groenewegen had stayed upright in stage 1 of the Tour de France; but sport, like life, is influenced on what ifs both good and bad. From stage 1 where Mike Teunissen won to stage 12 where Simon Yates took his first victory of this year’s race, each of the first 12 stages were won by different riders. You have to go back 25 years to 1994 for the last time that happened. This is a reflection of the openness of the race and also the lack of dominance among the sprinters; more on that later.
14 – Alaphilippe’s heroics
How he had France dreaming! Julian Alaphilippe surely has to ask the question now around where he should target the Tour as a GC rider in the future. The Frenchman was superb throughout, and though it was clear that he was fading and he did eventually succumb to the purer climbers around him; all of France surely hoped that he could pull it off and win the Tour. He spent 14 days in the yellow jersey before handing over to Bernal; and still managed to finish fifth overall.
20 – winners to stages
21 stages but only 20 victors. We’ve seen stages shortened, but rarely cancelled part way through. We’ve seen riders win stages and races but have those victories rescinded and records scrapped. But this was something that had nothing to do with the riders and everything to do with the weather. Stage 19 has no stage winner attached to it, but it was the day that yellow was finally wrestled from the clutches of the valiant Alaphilippe; passing to Bernal where it would stay.