LottoNL-Jumbo’s Primož Roglič got away on the final descent to solo to victory in stage 19 of the Tour de France in Laruns today.
Thomas retained his race lead ahead of the individual time-trial tomorrow, with Team Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin keeping his second place. Roglič, as a time-trial specialist, will be looking forward to the 20th stage tomorrow.
Chris Froome dropped to fourth in the general classification standings after finishing today’s stage in eighth.
Early on in the race, after about 8km, Damien Gaudin, Lukas Pöstlberger and Silvan Dillier attacked and created a 25-second lead. They later extended it to 45 seconds.
Adam Yates and Bob Jungels joined the leading trio before a series of attacks saw three sets of sextets form ahead of the peloton about 40km in.
Some 58km into the race the three groups amalgamated as an 18-man breakaway and held a three-and-a-half-minute lead over the peloton.
As they hit the first major climb the lead group dwindled to 12 riders, but they managed to extend their lead to just over four minutes 85km into the race.
Riders began dropping from the peloton, including world champion Peter Sagan, as a gruppetto formed eight-and-a-half minutes behind the peloton.
The lead group gradually decreased to six riders heading up the Col du Tourmalet, the second highest point in the tour. A five-man chasing group formed, with the peloton having been three minutes behind at the top.
The gruppetto dropped to 17 minutes behind the peloton as the halfway mark approached.
The gaps remained the same as they went down the descent and onto a flat for a few minutes before they took on the Col des Borderes, an 8.6km climb with a 5.8 per cent gradient.
The two breakaways joined up soon afterwards and formed an 11-man group. They led the peloton by three minutes and 10 seconds with 54km remaining when the climb started.
The gradient began hurting the breakaway as they dropped to eight riders and their lead from the peloton to under two minutes with 45km left.
At the top of the Col des Borderes, the breakaway had one minute and 40 seconds over the peloton as they coasted along the plateau before the 3km kick to the summit.
Steven Kruijswijk accelerated away from the peloton with over 35km left, before Mikel Landa and Romain Bardet attacked in the breakaway and created a gap.
Chris Froome got distanced when Thomas, Roglič and Dumoulin joined Kruijswijk up the road.
At an altitude of approximately 1700m, the riders began to weary, before Froome rejoined the GC group with 25km remaining.
Rafal Majka, Landa and Bardet were up front as the GC group gave a hard chase, led by Roglič.
The GC group managed to catch up with 20km remaining, but Majka kicked away and went ahead.
Following a few flat sections and descents, Majka was caught. Roglič broke away in the final 5km and created a 100m gap on the descent to the finish.
The Slovenian persevered and managed to win the race, finishing 19 seconds ahead of Thomas.
“What can I say? I’m really happy and it’s crazy. It’s a really nice feeling,” Roglič said after winning the stage.
“Obviously I had legs today. I really tried a lot of times and finally I got away on the descent.”
He, however, did not try to get ahead of himself for the time-trial tomorrow. “The time trial is the same for everyone and we all start from zero.
“Tomorrow is a new day and a new focus and for sure I will do my best.”
The 20th stage individual time-trial is over 31km and will finish in Espelette.