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Tour de France 2021, stage 19: live updates as Mark Cavendish bids to break Eddy Merckx’s record

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Will Cavendish add another remarkable chapter to his career today? – REUTERS

12:51 PM

The new breakaway

12:49 PM

96 km to go

The commentator on Eurosport is predicting a breakaway win – a big call with just under half the stage to go B, but the peloton gas went up to 51 seconds, and from here on in me,t’s reasonably flat.

12:45 PM

100 km to go

And the breakaway has been caught by the chasing pack – the gap to the peloton (containing Pogacar and Cavendish) is 40 seconds.

12:42 PM

101km to go

Franck Bonnamour, Matej Mohoric, Julien Bernard, Jonas Rutsch, Georg Zimmermann, and Simon Clarke remain at the head of the course – but the lead is down to just 16 seconds.

12:39 PM

So with nearly 100km to go

Here’s what’s happened so far.

There was a crash just after the start, and when it looked as though the early drama was over, there was another crash. This one involves Enric Mas, Sonny Colbrelli,, Guillaume Martin and Mark Cavendish.

Tour de France

Cavendish thankfully got up ok and was then in place for the intermediate sprint. He conceded two points to Colbrelli and three to Michael Matthews.

Cavendish was fine after the early crash – AP

12:34 PM

109.2km to go

The race, slowly but surely, is coming together. The gap from the breakaway to the counter-attack is down to 45 seconds, and to the peloton, it’s down to 1 minute 16 seconds.

12:32 PM

The speed has dipped.

The average pace for the first hour was 48.1kph, and for the second, it was 46.9kph.

12:30 PM

Another picturesque stage

Tour de France

12:28 PM

114km to go

The chasing group has upped the pace and dropped Omar Fraile, Greg Van Avermaet, Jorge Arcas, Ivan Garcia Cortina, and Alejandro Valverde.

12:26 PM

116.5 km to go

The chasing group consists of 20 riders – Mike Teunissen, Mads, Pederson, Jasper Stuyven, Edward, Theuns, Davide Ballerini, and Alejandro Valverde among them – the gap is now down to 1min 21 secs.

12:17 PM

So it looks as though

…anyone who thought today would be the perfect day for a breakaway winner (only two stages left, sprinters perhaps saving themselves for the Sunday sprint on the Champs-Élysées, and others for tomorrow’s time trial) is seemingly about to be proved wrong.

12:15 PM

124.1 km to go

The breakaway of Julien Bernard, Jonas Rutsch, Matej Mohoric, Simon Clarke, Georg Zimmermann, and Franck Bonnamour has seen their lead cut to 2 min 22 secs. The gap to the peloton, containing Pogacar ad Cavendish, is now won to 3mins 4 secs.

12:11 PM

128km to go

There’s a split in the peloton, and a batch of riders are counter-attacking the breakaway – the gap is down to 2mins 48 secs. Alejandro Valverde, Nils Politt, Silvan Dillier, and Michael Valgren are trying to attack the breakaway.

12:06 PM

131.7 km to go

For about 20-30km, the peloton was getting lazy – it was all instead humdrum – but the riders seem to have woken up. They’re in the delightful town of Mont-de-Marsan – the typical picture-perfect southern France town.

12:01 PM

It’s been a while

since the town of Libourne in the wine-growing region – the wine-making capital of northern Gironde and lies near Saint-Émilion and Pomerol – has hosted a finish. Today will see Cavendish and Co make a dash for the line for the first time since 1992.

11:55 AM

The breakaway at the moment

Are 4mins 3 secs ahead of the peloton with 143.6kms until the finish line?

Tadej Pogacar is safely in the leading pack – AP

11:52 AM

Julian Alaphilippe

The Deceuninck–Quick-Step rider on whether they will try to win Cavendish today or wait until Sunday. “I thought we were going to chase the record but probably be more defensive from us today. The team prefers to wait for the Champs-Élysées on Sunday. Today we’ll try to take the stage win, but that depends on the breakaway.”

11:41 AM

Here’s the top 10 GC heading into today’s stage

11:38 AM

Today’s scene – Mourenx to Libourne

Stage 19

11:35 AM

Can Cavendish break Merckx’s record?

Thursday saw Tadej Pogacar claim another landmark victory in the 18th stage of the Tour de France to edge closer to retaining his title. Still, a cloud of doping suspicion hung over the world’s most fantastic cycling race.

Before the start of yesterday’s stage, the French prosecutor’s office said it had opened a preliminary investigation into the Bahrain Victorious team after police searched the outfit’s accommodation and bus on Wednesday.

The prosecutor’s office in Marseille said the investigation was into “acquisition, transport, possession, import of a prohibited substance or prohibited method for use by an athlete without medical justification.” Bahrain Victorious said they were complying with the investigation.

“I don’t know about this; it’s something extraordinary,” UAE Emirates rider Pogacar told a news conference. “I guess it’s just one more control to see that nobody’s hiding anything, and I think the results of the raids were good. “We just found about it in the morning. It’s one more thing to control the sport.”

All Bahrain Victorious riders started the stage, but none of them weighed on the race, having been kept up by the searches deep into the night, with Dutchman Wout Poels falling behind Pogacar in the mountains classification.

The Slovenian’s brutal acceleration 500 meters from the line, at the top of Luz Ardiden (13.3km at 7.4 percent), could not be matched by his rivals as Denmark’s Jonas Vingegaard and Ecuador’s Richard Carapaz finished two seconds behind in second and third respectively.

The result was a carbon copy of Wednesday’s summit finish at the Col du Portet, where Pogacar had already beaten Vingegaard and Carapaz in the second of his three stage wins in this year’s Tour. “I can’t believe what’s happening to me. Today was a huge stage. My legs were not at 100 percent, and I suffered in the Tourmalet,” said Pogacar.

“The ascent to Luz Ardiden was tough, too, but I found my rhythm, and I had enough energy for the final sprint.” Overall, Pogacar now has a massive advantage of five minutes 45 seconds over Jumbo-Visma’s Vingegaard, with Carapaz of Ineos Grenadiers in third place, a further six seconds behind.

Colombian Rigoberto Uran (EF Education-Nippo), fourth overall at the start, cracked in the penultimate ascent to the Col du Tourmalet to drop out of the top 10. Australian Ben O’Connor of AG2R-Citroen is now fourth, 8:18 off the pace two days before Saturday’s final individual time trial.

In addition to the yellow, Pogacar now holds the white jersey for the best Under-25 rider and the polka-dot jersey for the mountains classification. Today’s stage sees what’s left of the peloton travel 207km from Mourenx to Libourne. After some tough days in the mountains, the sprinters get their chance to shine once more. Expect a bunch-sprint finish.

The approach to the finish in Libourne is very straightforward, but the last kilometer is very slightly uphill. Mark Cavendish is the favorite, and should he win, he’ll set the record for most stage wins in the Tour de France. Stay here for all the action.

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