Tour de France 2022, stage 19
Start location: Castelnau-Magnoac
Finish location: Cahors
Start time: 12.05 BST
Finish time (approx): 16.16 BST
Léon Gambetta, the most famous son of Cahors, and whose surname has been given to hundreds of streets, squares and avenues around France (and one in Battersea), was a anti-imperialist lawyer and politician who was one of the driving forces behind the establishment and proclamation of the Third Republic in France in 1870. In the febrile aftermath of the uprising, he had to escape Paris in a hot-air balloon for Tours, returning with an improvised and ragtag army that he’d raised.
ASO own the October race that retraces the route of Gambetta’s egress, but their main property, the Tour de France, is heading back towards the capital at speed, leaving the Pyrenees behind and crossing the Tarn-et-Garonne département and heading into Lot country. Their destination is Cahors, Gambetta’s birthplace, and the centre of production of a robust and inky genre of red wine.
Usually, flat stages like this are designed with the sprinters in mind. There are a couple of fourth-category climbs in the final 50km, and the parcours gets rugged and rolling as it skirts the border of the Creuse département midway through the stage, but the parcours is largely uncomplicated. If this stage were in week one, there is no doubt whatsoever that the sprinters’ teams would control it.
However, funny things happen in flat or flattish stages that come after the final mountain range in the Tour de France. By this point, many teams have yet to achieve a stage win, which makes the fight for the break much more intense, and therefore difficult to control. If a large enough group can get away, the balance of power sometimes slips away from the sprinters’ teams to the break. This happened in stage 19 of the 2021 Tour de France to Libourne, won by Matej Mohorič and stage 19 of the 2020 Tour de France to Champgnole, won by Søren Kragh Andersen.
This is the last-chance saloon for many of the teams of the Tour de France. Saturday is a time trial and Sunday is a bunch sprint, so only the specialists can really hope for a victory. During the years of the Paris Commune, as the Third Republic ran into trouble, Gambetta went into voluntary exile in San Sebastián. With the city’s Clásica taking place the weekend after the Tour ends, perhaps any of the riders who miss out here can follow his example.
Tour de France 2022 stage 19 map and profile
This stage is a stark contrast from the two tough, mountainous Pyrenean stages which came before it. It begins in Castelnau-Magnoac and heads north on flat roads before moving eastward in the direction of Cahors. The only real challenges that the sprinters may face are two climbs in the last 55 kilometres.
The first is the Côte de la cité médiévale which lasts for two kilometres at an average gradient of 6.2%. This shouldn’t be too much of a problem for the fast men, but with three weeks of Grand Tour racing in their legs, many could begin to feel some fatigue. The second climb of the day is the Côte Saint-Daunès which is even shorter than the one that precedes it, lasting just 1.6 kilometres with an average gradient of 6.3%.
A descent and flat run into the finish line follows, which should give any sprinters the chance to regain contact if they have lost any ground on the climbs before. The final kilometre is a slight false flat which means that sprinters will have to be wary of opening their effort up too early and dying off towards the line.
Tour de France 2022 stage 19 predictions and contenders
The sprinters who have struggled over the last two stages on the Pyrenees will be looking for a reward for their efforts today. We can expect their teams to be vigilant, especially Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl who have stage two winner Fabio Jakobsen in their ranks. The Dutchman battled over the mountains to narrowly finish inside the time cut, so we will have to wait and see how much of an impact those efforts have had on him today.
Another team with a vested interest in keeping things together for a bunch kick is Team BikeExchange. Dylan Groenewegen’s victory on stage three of the race proved he has returned to top form and his team will throw everything behind him to secure another stage win. Jasper Philipsen of Alpecin-Deceuninck is the third sprinter who has already taken a win this race, and he will hope to challenge Groenewegen and Philipsen in the run-in to the line.
Lotto Soudal’s Caleb Ewan could save what has been a disappointing season so far for the Australian with a win here. He has been lamenting his lack of lead out train for his lacklustre performances so far, but will be hoping his team can pull together to deliver him to the finish line first today.
One man who could spoil the party for all the pure sprinters is green jersey wearer Wout van Aert. The multi-talented Belgian can perform on virtually any terrain and fast bunch finishes are no exception. It’s been clear so far this race that Jumbo Visma is not instructing Van Aert to stay with his GC leader, Jonas Vingegaard, in the hectic run-ins to the line, so he will have the opportunity to fight for the win here if he wishes.
Other fast men who will be looking for victory here are Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), who already has one stage win to boot at this Tour – albeit from a breakaway rather than sprint – and Alexander Kristoff of Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux. Danny van Poppel of BORA-Hansgrohe, Alberto Dainese of Team DSM and Hugo Hofstetter of Team Arkéa Samsic are also outside bets for a sprint win here.
It should also be noted that this is the end of a three week Tour and we never really know what to expect. On a similar stage last year towards the end of the race, Matej Mohorič soloed to victory from the breakaway, so a surprise winner is not out of the question.
Rouleur predicts: We think that Jasper Philipsen could take the win here. He hasn’t struggled over the mountains as much as his rivals and has a strong lead out train to support him, while Fabio Jakobsen lost his lead out man, Michael Mørkøv, earlier in the race.
Cover image: Zac Williams/SWpix