A Tour for the ages get­ting its first South Amer­i­can win­ner

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL SPORTS - By John Le­ices­ter

A Tour de France for the ages is get­ting a cham­pion of an un­usu­ally young age: 22-year-old Egan Ber­nal be­came South Amer­ica’s first win­ner of cy­cling’s great­est race when he rides to the fin­ish in yel­low on the Champs-El­y­sees in Paris on Sun­day night.

The slightly built Colom­bian with a killer in­stinct on the road proved to be the strong­est of the 176 strong men who roared off from the start in Brus­sels, Belgium, on July 6 on their three-week, 3,366-kilo­me­ter (2,092-mile) odyssey that de­liv­ered the most ab­sorb­ing, drama-packed Tour in decades and a new cy­cling su­per-star in the mak­ing: Ber­nal.

Colom­bian fans were par­ty­ing in Paris even be­fore the sur­viv­ing 155 rid­ers roused their tired legs for the 21st and fi­nal stage from Ram­bouil­let west of Paris. But the mil­lions of French fans who lined the roads through east, cen­tral and south­ern France, and up into the thin­ning air of the Pyre­nees and Alps, were ru­ing a Tour of bit­ter-sweet.

First, they were thrilled by fab­u­lous rac­ing from French rid­ers Ju­lian Alaphilipp­e, who held the race lead for 14 days, and Thibaut Pinot, who won on the first of seven 2,000-me­ter-plus peaks scaled by the high­est Tour in his­tory. But joy turned to sor­row when their prospects of be­com­ing France’s first win­ner since 1985 were cru­elly dashed in the last week.

France’s Ju­lian Alaphilipp­e wear­ing the over­all leader’s yel­low jersey rides with the pack dur­ing the four­teenth stage of the Tour de France cy­cling race over 73 miles with start in Tarbes and fin­ish at the Tour­malet pass, France.

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