Tour de France stage 19: Matej Mohorič takes photo finish victory

Bahrain Victorious take their third win of the race as Kasper Agsreen misses out

Clock17:22, Friday 21st July 2023
Matej Mohorič won the battle of the bike throws to take victory on stage 19

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

Matej Mohorič won the battle of the bike throws to take victory on stage 19

Matej Mohorič (Bahrain Victorious) beat Kasper Asgreen (Soudal-Quick Step) and Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroën) in a three-up sprint that soon saw O’Connor distanced and the leading pair cross the finish line within fractions of a second of each other. The result had to be confirmed by a photo finish, with Mohorič being awarded the stage 19 honours.

The three-up move came towards the end of what had been a pulsating afternoon of racing, as the opportunists in the peloton smelt the last opportunity for the rouleurs to find stage success. With one more mountain stage and the expected sprint in Paris on Sunday to come, dozens of riders were desperate to find themselves in the decisive breakaway of the stage and this resulted in tough racing for hours on end.

Eventually, more than 30 riders found themselves with a 10+ minute lead on the peloton and it was Asgreen who forced the final selection, with only O’Connor and Mohorič able to match the strong Dane, who was looking for back-to-back stage victories. O’Connor stood little chance in the sprint, but his hard work ensured that the trio contested the finish alone in Poligny.

“At one point I felt sorry for Ben [O’Connor],” admitted Mohorič, “because I knew he had no chance in the sprint but he still pushed to stay away because he also wants to contest the win, even though he knows that he is likely to lose. In the closing metres when Ben went, it was his only chance so I knew this and I knew Kasper would react because he was by far the strongest and I just followed his wheel and he basically led me out. I don’t have a strong sprint but after a hard day like today, you just never know.”

With O’Connor dealt with, Mohorič benefitted from Asgreen’s powerful sprint and launched his bike throw at the opportune time to snatch victory from under the nose of the Soudal-Quick Step rouleur. The Slovenian was emotional after the finish as he gave a measured, honest and candid set of answers to his winner’s press conference.

“Sometimes you feel like you don’t belong here because everyone is so incredibly strong that you struggle to hold the wheels sometimes,” Mohorič reflected. “I just said I don’t want to have any regrets when I come to the team bus. I know that I don’t often win because I’m not as strong as the others, but I can keep the cool and the focus in the crucial moments.”

Racing recap

Beginning in Moirans-en-Montagne, stage 19 promised a transitional day that would be the final opportunity for the rouleurs in this year’s Tour de France and the action did not disappoint. Attacks came from the gun with early moves being put into motion by the likes of Edvald Boasson Hagen (TotalEnergies), Kasper Asgreen (Soudal-Quick Step) and Victor Campenaerts (Lotto Dstny), but no move appeared to stick.

The infernal attacks continued throughout the first 35km before this mayhem began to descend on the peloton, with the bunch being split into two and Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates) finding himself in the second group. This prompted a furious chase by UAE Team Emirates as Stefan Kung (Groupama-FDJ) and Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-Quick Step) continued to force a decisive breakaway, which would not occur until 118km from the finish.

It was to be Alaphilippe who would make the selection, alongside Campenaerts, Tiesj Benoot (Jumbo-Visma), Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious), Nils Politt (Bora-Hansgrohe), Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek), Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates), Georg Zimmermann (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) and Warren Barguil (Arkéa Samsic). Their gap would extend to a little over a minute before the likes of Uno-X, Israel Premier-Tech and EF Education-EasyPost began their frantic chase.

Having missed out on getting a rider in the move, these teams worked efficiently over the next 40km to reduce the advantage held by the leading group. In the meantime, Pedersen picked up maximum points at the intermediate sprint and Alpecin-Deceuninck used this moment to launch Jasper Philipsen and Mathieu van der Poel up the road from the peloton.

After the counter-attacks from the peloton had settled down, those riders up the road and thus contesting the stage win numbered over 35 riders and now included the likes of Asgreen, Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroën) and the Bahrain Victorious trio of Haig, Fred Wright and Matej Mohorič. An attack by Asgreen on the Côte d’Ivory saw himself, O’Connor and Mohorič sail by Campenaerts and Simon Clarke (Israel-Premier Tech) and form the leading trio on the road.

Despite the best efforts of those behind, these three riders would not be caught as Mohorič, O’Connor and Asgreen worked well together to open up a 30-second gap to the chasers. Knowing he was the slowest, O’Connor went for the element of surprise by opening up his sprint first at the finish, but Asgreen soon rounded the helpless Australian and although his kick was strong, the Dane inadvertently provided the perfect lead-out for Mohorič to round him in the closing metres.

As the two riders threw their bikes towards the line to try and seal the win, the stage 19 victor could only be decided by a photo finish, which rewarded Mohorič for beginning his bike throw fractionally sooner than Asgreen. For Mohorič, it was his third Tour de France stage victory and the first of this year’s race, as he took Bahrain Victorious’ tally of wins at this year’s edition to three.

The Bahraini team have now matched their best-ever performance at the Tour de France, drawing level with the three stage victories they achieved at the 2021 edition. With Pello Bilbao sitting in sixth on GC going into the final two days, they are on track to honour their late teammate, Gino Mäder, in the most beautiful fashion at this year’s race - something not lost on an emotional Matej Mohorič after the finish.

“I knew I had to make everything perfect, I tried my best not just for myself, but also for Gino [Mäder] and for the team.”

Whilst Pidcock moved up three places to 13th on GC with his breakaway exploits, the top 10 remained the same as the Tour heads towards the final mountains of this year’s race on Saturday.

We’ll be showing live and on-demand coverage of all 21 stages of this year’s Tour de France from Saturday, July 1 to Sunday, July 23. Head over to GCN+ now to check the start times of each broadcast so that you don’t miss out on a moment of the action! As always, territory restrictions will apply.

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