Matej Mohoric from Bahrain Victorious secured his second stage win of the 2021 Tour de France when he held off a breakaway of 20 riders to reach the finish line first at Stage 19 in Libourne. Earlier in Le Tour, Mohoric won Stage 7 at Le Creusot when he gambled on a breakaway and it paid off.

Matej Mohoric Stage 19 Le Tour de France Bahrain Victorious
Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) won Stage 19 at Libourne for his second stage victory at the 2021 Tour de France. (Image: Reuters)

Mark Cavendish (Deceuninck-QuickStep) will have to wait until Sunday in Paris to potentially break the record for most stage wins. He’s currently tied with Le Tour’s GOAT, Eddy Merck, with 34 total stage victories. Stage 20 on Saturday is a time trial with a sprint stage set for the finale in Paris with Stage 21.

On paper, the flat 207 km route in Stage 19 from Mourenx to Libourne looked like an ideal stage for a bunch sprint finish, but that’s not how this one played out. Merckx was in attendance at the starting line just in case Cavendish snapped his record. Instead of Cavendish setting a new record, the Stage 19 winner emerged from a solo breakaway.

2021 Tour de France – Stage 19 Results
  1. Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) 4:19:17
  2. Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) +00:58
  3. Casper Pedersen (Team DSM)

Two nights ago, Bahrain Victorious had their hotel raided by French police. The team is under investigation for doping allegations, and all team members were forced to give up their phones and laptops. Mohoric’s victory was a way the team could thumb their noses at French authorities. Despite the distraction, BV added its third stage win of the tour.

Stage 19: Mourenx > Libourne

The initial breakaway in the first 20 km included six riders, with Mohoric among them. A dozen riders from the peloton quickly counterattacked and chased down the six-pack, which didn’t include Cavendish’s team, Deceuninck-QuickStep.

With 45km to go, the breakaway group cannibalized each other with attacks. The group split in two at one point, with Mohoric in the front group of 10 riders. He opened a gap of 30 seconds on the last climb and held off every attack when no one had the legs to challenge him in the last 10km.

“I can’t believe it,” said Mohoric. “There was another big group joining our small breakaway and we had no teammates there, so I was a little bit disappointed, but I never give up and I just hoped for the best, tried to save some energy, and then in the final I tried to follow the attacks.

Mohoric kept looking over his shoulder in the final 100 meters to make sure no one was coming up on his rear. He held off Christophe Laporte (Cofidis) and Casper Pedersen (Team DSM) by nearly a minute to earn his second stage win.

“I just went as hard as I possibly could, and I completely finished my legs,” added Mohoric. “Toward the finish, I was dying, I was doing ridiculously low power, but I was trying to be as aero as possible.”

Mohoric’s performance gave Bahrain Victorious its third stage win this year. He won Stage 7 while Dylan Tuens took down the first stage in the Alps at Stage 8 for back-to-back stage wins for BV.

On Deck: Stage 20 individual time trial

Last year, Tadej Pogacar won the time trial and seized the yellow jersey by upsetting leader Primoz Roglic. This year, Pogacar holds a commanding lead heading into the final time trial, which is a brisk 30.8km ride from Libourne to Sant-Emillon. The defending champ and current leader is one of the favorites to prevail in the time trial.

If he wins Stage 20, Pogacar would lock up his fourth stage win on Le Tour this year. He won the first time trial with a dominating victory in Stage 5. He also shipped back-to-back mountain stages in the Pyrenees over the last couple of days, with astounding victories at Stage 17 and again with Stage 18.

Keep an eye on Stefan Kung in Stage 20. He’s a stellar time trialist, but has not won a stage yet this year and neither has his team Groupama-FDJ. Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), who won Stage 11 at Mont Ventoux, is also one of the favorites to win another stage.

2021 Le Tour – Overall GC Standings
  1. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) 79:40:09
  2. Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) +5:45
  3. Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) +5:51
  4. Ben O’Connor (AG2R Citroen Team) +8:18
  5. Wilco Kelderman (Bora-Hansgrohe) +8:50

Pogacar leads Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) by 5:45 and Richard Carapaz (Ineos) by 5:51. Vingegaard and Carapaz will slug it out in the time trial on Saturday to determine which one will be standing on the second step of the podium in Paris on Sunday.

Check out more coverage of the 2021 Tour de France.