Top Banana: Tour de France – stage 19 – The snowplough driver

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The Rouleur team tries its hand at this live-blogging thing. We’re at Brewdog Tower Hill, for Stage 19 of the Tour de France. Refresh for updates

Words:
Photographs: Sigfrid Eggers
Stage 19


The Rouleur Top Banana panel has convened at
BrewDog Tower Hill for the entire afternoon to watch the Tour and assess the runners and riders for stage 19.


Live deliberation to follow…


2.10pm – This, basically:

2.24pm – We’re drowning our sorrows over Pinot in cheese and beer

3.05pm – Bradley on a bike! Editor Andy Mcgrath says: “Wiggins has been great this Tour de France. He’s enhanced his reputation even more.” Sorry ITV cycling, much as we love Ned and David, Brewdog have gone with Eurosport UK.


3.13pm – Miles would like it known that, in his opinion, the 2019 French national is the nicest one in the pro peloton. Some disagreement around the table but no danger of things kicking off (either at Brewdog, or in the Tour), for now…


3.19pm – George Bennett slipping out the back. He’s been a true team player this Tour, and one of the names touted for Supreme Banana. Only partly for this:


3.22pm – “Bernal is clearly working for Geraint Thomas,” says Carlton Kirby. Respectfully, Mr Kirby, we think the Colombian is clearly working for himself.


3.31pm – “Alaphilippe is going to descend like a maniac,” says Andy McGrath. He’s going to have to. His maillot jaune hangs in the balance.


3.35pm – Bernal might be flying but the Steven Kruijswijk group still has Laurens de Plus, who’s going to be very handy for his team-mate – and for Thomas – in the valley. A strong contender for today’s Top Banana?


3.43pm – The stage is going to be cancelled??? The time will be taken at the top of the Col de l’Iseran, which means Alaphilippe has no opportunity to regain the time lost on the descent. Bernal is in yellow? But who gets the Top Banana???


3.58pm –

4.18pm – The Top Banana jury has reached a conclusion. Rouleur’s executive editor, Ian Cleverly, reports:


Ice, ice, baby…


The latest twist in an extraordinary Tour will be talked about almost as much as the race itself.


Julian Alaphilippe finally cracked. It was on the cards yesterday and today he finally went on the Iseran.


Pinot packed in tears and the world’s cycling fans felt his pain. It was a sad end to a brave ride from the Frenchman. 


Egan Bernal, with Simon Yates in tow, looked bob on to take the yellow jersey. The Brit would surely have taken the stage.


They crested the Iseran with groups spread all over the mountain below. This was the big shake up we had been predicting. Great racing all round.


And then nature intervened. TV cameras switched to a snowplough somewhere on the final climb to Tignes, frantically attempting to clear the road of snow, ice, even a landslide.


It’s rare for a Tour stage to be shortened (Ventoux in 2014 was one such case, due to high winds) but there was little choice for race director Christian Prudhomme. Game over, times taken from the top of the Iseran, making Bernal the stage winner – and the yellow jersey.


And Top Banana? That snowplough driver, working his or her socks off to salvage the unsalvageable, like the King Canute of the mountains. It seems fitting – an unsung hero whose efforts have gone unrewarded. An absolute hero whose heart was probably pumping higher than the those descending the mountain. We salute you.


Rouleur Top Bananas 2019:


Stage 1 – Greg Van Avermaet
Stage 2 – Tony Martin
Stage 3 – Michael Matthews
Stage 4 – Max Richeze
Stage 5 – Toms Skuiņš
Stage 6 – Geraint Thomas
Stage 7 – Wout van Aert
Stage 8 – Thomas de Gendt
Stage 9 – Jasper Stuyven
Stage 10 – Luke Rowe 
Stage 11 – Emanuel Buchmann
Stage 12 – Matteo Trentin
Stage 13 – Enric Mas
Stage 14 – David Gaudu
Stage 15 – Lennard Kämna
Stage 16 – Lotto-Soudal
Stage 17 – Kasper Asgreen
Stage 18 – Romain Bardet