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Colombia’s Bernal takes Yellow Jersey as hail storm halts Tour in the Alps

Christian Hartmann, REUTERS | Egan Bernal of Colombia in action on the Col de l'Iseran on July 26, 2019.

Colombia's Egan Bernal took the Yellow Jersey from Julian Alaphilippe on Friday as a hail storm interrupted stage 19 of the Tour de France on a grim day for the home riders that also saw Thibaut Pinot drop out of the race with a thigh injury.

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Tour organisers chose to interrupt the race after the storm made the road too dangerous, announcing that times would be taken at the top of the Col de l'Iseran, where Bernal came first about two minutes ahead of Alaphilippe.

The Colombian climber from Ineos was 1:30 behind the Frenchman at the start of the stage from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to Tignes, the penultimate Alpine stage before Sunday's final ride to the Champs-Elysées in Paris.

But he powered ahead of his rivals in the steep climb to the Col de l'Iseran, with Alaphilippe and defending champion Geraint Thomas unable to follow.

Earlier in the day, Thibaut Pinot, another French contender for the title, made a tearful exit from the race after suffering a thigh injury.

Pinot called for medical assistance in the small Montee d'Aussois climb, about 93 kilometers from the finish.

The FDJ-Groupama leader had his thigh bandaged by the race doctor but his pedaling did not improve as he struggled at the back of the pack, with tears running down his face.

Pinot then stopped on the side of the road and had the bandage removed by a team assistant and rode for a few extra kilometers before calling it quits.

Along with Alaphilippe, Pinot was hoping to become the first Frenchman to win the world's most prestigious cycling race since Bernard Hinault in 1985.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

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