Slovenian Bahrain-Victorious rider Mohorič took the stage today with an impressive lunge to the finish line that beat yesterday’s winner – Kasper Asgreen – by a hair, confirmed only by a photo finish.
The pair were part of a longstanding breakaway from around 30 km with AG2R’s Ben O’Connor, sustaining a lead of around 30 seconds against an aggressive pursuit by the likes of Mathieu van der Poel, Jasper Philipsen, Mads Pedersen, and Tom Pidcock.
Ben O’Connor’s slightly longer-range attack with 500 m to go only served to lead out Kasper Asgreen, with Matej Mohorič on his wheel. The two then engaged in a battle to the finish line that was too close to tell by eye.
Milan-San Remo winner Mohorič was reduced to tears once the nerve-racking finishing photo check was completed, confirming his third career Tour de France stage win.
The pair were evenly matched in the sprint, but Mohorič’s lunge was just slightly better timed than Asgreen’s, and his front wheel crossed the line first by mere centimeters.
Just as the result caused elation for the Slovenian, it caused anguish for Asgreen – who has almost single-handedly revived what had been a fairly disappointing Tour for Soudal-QuickStep by winning yesterday’s stage in an outstanding 170 km breakaway.
It was the second consecutive day that Asgreen was involved in such a breakaway, and the final 20 km of today’s race unfolded in a very similar manner as yesterday’s, with a disorganized chasing group reluctant to carry the green jersey – Jasper Philipsen – to the finish.
The breakaway came after a blistering attack by another of yesterday’s perpetrators, Victor Campanearts. Together with Australian rider Simon Clarke, the two jumped off the front of a tussling leading group with 60 km to go.
The two-man break was unable to sustain their lead, however, as Clarke ran out of steam and Campanearts was caught and dropped by the Mohorič, Asgreen, and O’Connor trio with 30 km to go.
Once again, there was no development in the General Classification as the peloton calmly rolled across the finish line more than 12 minutes after Matej Mohorič.
Despair for Jasper Philipsen And Alpecin-Deceuninck
For Jasper Philipsen, another opportunity for a stage win was squandered.
The green jersey and world-class sprinter’s early success in this year’s Tour – winning four stages – has led to reluctance for pursuing groups to catch breakaways.
It has become abundantly clear that Philipsen is the most likely to win in an out-and-out bunch sprint, and so no one wants to do work to carry him to the finish line only to lose the stage, except his Alpecin-Deceuninck teammates.
This was a similar situation to yesterday whereby Alpecin-Deceuninck were forced to run through their lead out prematurely in the hopes of catching the breakaway to deliver Phillipsen another stage win, with few other teams willing to work at the front.
In a carbon copy of yesterday’s finish for the Belgian, he won the sprint among the poursuivants – with the help of Mathieu van der Poel’s lead out – for a second consecutive fourth-placed finish.
It is of little worry to Philipsen’s green jersey hopes, however, as he sits on a dominating 377 points, with second-placed Mads Pedersen on 258.
But he was certainly the clear-cut favorite to win both today’s and yesterday’s stages.
There is one final chance for glory for Philipsen, with the bunch sprint on the Champs-Élysées still to come in Sunday’s finale to this year’s Tour.
“It’s hard and cruel to be a professional cyclist”
Matej Mohorič spoke plainly of the difficulties of professional cycling after his win in an interview with ITV4.
“You suffer a lot in preparation. You sacrifice your life, your family, and you do everything you can to get here ready – and then after a couple of days you realize everyone is just so incredibly strong that it’s just hard to follow the wheels sometimes.”
Matej was clearly emotional after his stage victory and spoke candidly about his struggles within the sport.
“Sometimes you feel like you don’t belong here… When Kasper [Asgreen] went…I don’t know, he was so incredibly strong.”
“He went on the attack yesterday and won the stage and today, to have the will and the determination to do it all over again, you just feel like you don’t belong here.”
“I followed him, I knew I had to make everything perfect and I tried my best.”
Tour De France 2023 Stage 19 Results
1. Matej Mohorič (Bahrain-Victorious/SLO): 3:31:02
2. Kasper Asgreen (Soudal-QuickStep/DEN): + 0 seconds
3. Ben O’Connor (AG2R-Citroen/AUS): + 4 seconds
4. Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceunick/BEL): + 39 seconds
5. Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek/DEN): + 39 seconds
6. Christoph Laporte (Jumbo-Visma/FRA): + 39 seconds
7. Luka Mezgec (Jayco-AlUla/SLO): + 39 seconds
8. Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-Easypost/ITA): + 39 seconds
9. Matteo Trentin (UAE Team Emirates/ITA): + 39 seconds
10. Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers/GBR): + 39 seconds
Tour De France 2023 General Classification Standings After Stage 19
1. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma/DEN): 75:49:24
2. Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates/SLO): + 7 minutes, 35 seconds
3. Adam Yates (UAE-Team Emirates/GBR): + 10 minutes, 45 seconds
4. Carlos Rodriguez (Ineos Grenadiers/SPA): + 12 minutes, 01 seconds
5. Simon Yates (Jayco-AlUla/GBR): + 12 minutes, 19 seconds
6. Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious/SPA): + 12 minutes, 50 seconds
7. Jai Hindley (BORA-hansgrohe/AUS): + 13 minutes, 50 seconds
8. Felix Gall (AG2R-Citroen/AUT): + 16 minutes, 11 seconds
9. Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma/USA): + 16 minutes, 49 seconds
10. David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ/FRA): + 17 minutes, 57 seconds