Egan Bernal will be crowned the Tour de France winner on the Champs-lyses after keeping hold of the yellow jersey during a shortened penultimate stage
In the thin, chilly air of Val Thorens ski station, Sir Dave Brailsford might have allowed himself a wry smile as he watched his new Tour de France champion, Egan Bernal, and last years model, Geraint Thomas, embrace. Only six months ago, Brailsford was looking for a sponsor for his super team, and fighting to hang on to his big names after Sky unexpectedly opted to end its relationship with cycling.
Many doubted if Brailsford could keep his all-star team together, and if he could ever replace the big-money sponsorship that had led to accusations of him buying success in the Tour, no less than six times between 2012 and 2018. There were those too, who viewed him as damaged goods, in the aftermath of Team Skys flawed zero-tolerance policy, the fudged Salbutamol investigation into Chris Froome and the damning verdict of a House of Commons select committee into anti-doping.
Yet he has now bagged a seventh Tour. Despite the numerous criticisms, the loss of Chris Froome through injury, the huffing and puffing of the French, Teflon Dave has done it again. Brailsfords ability to reach into the toilet and pull out chocolate, as rival manager Jonathan Vaughters once put it, has seen him through with a new sponsor Ineos and a new Tour de France champion his teams fourth since 2012 in Bernal.
The 22-year-old Colombians triumph was sealed at altitude in Val Thorens, after Julian Alaphilippe cracked and the Jumbo-Visma teams best efforts to set up a last-ditch bid by Steven Kruijswijk to claw his way on to the podium finally dislodged the Frenchman.
Bernal remained in a state of disbelief, even when presented with the yellow jersey for the second day running. Im really happy but when we arrive at the hotel and Im alone, maybe only then I will believe it.
Its our first Tour, so you can imagine the reaction, Bernal said when asked what it meant to his home nation. I think its really important for us. Im really proud to be the first Colombian to win the Tour.