To the cheers of his compatriots, Christophe Laporte covered his face with his hands. Two days before the grand finale in Paris, the Grande Nation was able to celebrate the 109th Tour de France. Laporte, teammate of leader Jonas Vingegaard, clinched victory on stage 19 after a long sprint after 188.3 kilometers from Castelnau-Magnoac to Cahors ahead of Belgium’s Jasper Philipsen and Italy’s Alberto Dainese. “I’m so happy. The victory was important for France. I gave people something to celebrate and I hope they’re happy for me too,” said Laporte. This saves the hosts from the biggest fiasco since 1999, when no Frenchman had won a stage last time.

“I’m so happy my family is here. I haven’t really understood that yet. There were hardly any chances left for me. With three kilometers to go, the team management told me we’re driving for you today,” said Laporte.

One of the first to congratulate was Vingegaard, who lost five seconds to rival Tadej Pogacar in the final sprint due to carelessness. Nevertheless, his lead of 3:21 minutes over the defending champion remains comfortable. “Tour victory should be assured,” said Laporte, Vingegaard’s staunch Tour aide. The Dane also has an unassailable lead in the mountains classification. As deputy, Simon Geschke was allowed to wear the red dotted dress again, since Vingegaard wears yellow. Geschke lost the mountain jersey on Thursday after nine days.

“Can something still go wrong for Vingegaard?” asked the Danish newspaper “Ekstrabladet”. Not really, because the lead over Pogacar should easily be enough in the individual time trial over 40.7 kilometers from Lacapelle-Marival to Rocamadour on Saturday. Pogacar snatched the yellow jersey from his compatriot Primoz Roglic two years ago in the last fight against the clock just before Paris, but this time it’s not going up the hill.

And Vingegaard is considered a good time trialist, who had already lost only eight seconds to Pogacar at the start in Copenhagen. The Danish flags can therefore be planted for the grand finale on the Champs Élysées on Sunday. “The tour is more or less sealed,” said Pogacar.

The fact that Geschke, as Vingegaard’s deputy, was also allowed to wear the mountain jersey on Friday was rather an unwelcome compulsory event for the Berliner. “Now I’m the guy who drives the jersey around but doesn’t lead the ranking. If I had the choice, I would start in my normal jersey,” said the Cofidis professional, who will probably have this dubious pleasure until Sunday in Paris.

The Spaniard Enric Mas, who was the 16th professional cyclist to get out before the 19th stage due to a positive corona test, will no longer reach Paris. The Movistar driver was in eleventh place overall. During the tour, the four-time tour winner Chris Froome and the German Maximilian Walscheid also had to give up because of Corona.

Of the seven remaining German drivers, only Nils Politt was able to put himself in the spotlight a little on Friday. After the start in the 800-strong town of Castelnau-Magnoac, the birthplace of rugby star Antoine Dupont, Politt was represented in a breakaway group for a while. But the man from Cologne quickly gave up the venture. As a result, Politt experienced the second neutralization of the tour this year at the forefront. Because demonstrators were back on the streets, the stage had to be interrupted for five minutes. Something similar happened on the tenth stage.