Lost In Thin Air

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I’ve never seen a Tour de France with this many kilometres above two thousand metres, nobody has & nobody really knows what to expect in the final week. Which is why I predict we’re going to see another thing nobody has ever seen before, a Colombian winner in Paris. Let me explain myself, with some actual evidence (not common these days).

Last 5 years of Colombian top 20 GC riders


10th: Nairo Quintana @14’18” (won Stage 17 finishing at 2215m, was up to 5th @3’30”, but crashed on Stage 18)

15th: Egan Bernal @27’52” (working for Sky leader all Tour)


2nd: Rigoberto Urán @54″ (Urán won Stage 9, where he lying at 55 seconds to Froome, he gained more time & was 29 seconds behind Froome by Stage 12, he moved within 27 seconds by Stage 17, dropped 2 seconds on stage 18, then lost only 25 seconds to Froome on the Stage 20, 22.5km TT.)

12th: Nairo Quintana @15’28” (A very poor Tour for Quintana)

18th: Carlos Betancur @37’47”


3rd: Nairo Quintana @4’21”

12th: Sergio Henao @18’51”

19th: Jarlinson Pantano @38’59” (Winner Stage 15)


2nd: Nairo Quintana @1’12 (Note Quintana was 1’59” down after the Stage 9 TTT)

19th: Jarlinson Pantano @1hr 09’08”


What happened to the Colombians?


2nd: Nairo Quintana @4’20” (winner of Stage 20)


Quintana – Short Mountain Stage Specialist?

Lets go back a few years & look at every ‘short’ mountain stage since 2013. Contrary to popular belief, Quintana isn’t so much the diesel, he excels at the short stages, maybe his attention span is sufficient for these stages?

2013: Stage 20 – 125km Mountain Stage: Took 29s on Froome, overall winner on GC.

2015: Stage 19 – 138km Mountain Stage: Took 30seconds on Froome, overall winner on GC.

2015: Stage 20 – 110km Mountain Stage: Took 1min 20seconds on Froome, overall winner on GC.

2017: Stage 13 – 101km Mountain Stage: Took 1min 48seconds on Froome, overall winner on GC.

2018: Stage 11 – 108km Mountain Stage: Lost 59seconds to Thomas, overall winner on GC.

2018: Stage 17 – 65km Mountain Stage: Took 47seconds on Thomas, overall winner on GC.

So on all but one short mountain stage, Quintana has gained time on the final winner in Paris. If we take an average, including the loss, he gains approximately 39seconds on a short mountain stage.

The 2019 Strategic Moments

Time gaps may not appear on stages 18 & 19, but serious damage will be inflicted on those not as naturally predisposition to riding at altitude. If the Iseran is ridden full gas by Movistar or EF Education, even though it’s mid-stage, we’ll know if the Colombian onslaught is going to happen, they’ll need to cause as much damage as possible to limit the normally aspirated riders recovery.

Stage 18 (208km): 9km above 2000m to summit of Col du Galibier (2642m), followed by a 19km descent to the finish.

Stage 19 (126km): 10km above 2000m to summit of Col du l’Iseran (2770m).

Stage 20 (130km): Finish at Val Thorens 2365m.

The Gist Of It

I think a Colombian is going to win this Tour, the last few days appear too hard & too high for anybody else to recover sufficiently to not lose time at altitude, or suffer from extended time racing at altitude & crack on the final mountain day.

Of all the Colombians, the sensible money is on Bernal, he has the best team, they know how to win the Tour, but does he have the experience?

Urán looks undercooked, and is also innatentive, losing time in the crosswinds on Stage 10, which may have put him out of contention.

We often forget, since Quintana has been around for so long, he’s still only 29, coming into his prime as a Grand Tour contender.

Whoever wins this Tour will deserve it. My money is on Quintana, everything is set up for him to win, the final three back-to-back high altitude mountain stages, with the last two being short mountain stages, which we can see are a speciality for Nairo, when all the normally aspirated contenders are desperately trying to recover from getting blown to pieces in thin air.

A Geraint Thomas in last years Tour winning form would need at least 3 minutes lead after the TT on Stage to survive the last few brutal days in yellow, he can’t just kick at the end & win these, there’s not enough oxygen. The main issue with Quintana is his attention span, he often loses time form innatention, but this year looks a little better & was scrapping in the Dauphine to ensure he didn’t lose time, maybe he’s got some focus, or maybe it’ll all go up in flames as usual.

This is Quintana’s chance, he should take it.




(p.s. I expect pelters for this, so bring it on)









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