Mohorič honors Mäder, wins closest TdF stage

Matej Mohorič edged Kasper Asgreen in the closest-ever stage finish at the Tour de France while defending champion Jonas Vingegaard protected his commanding lead Friday.

Mohorič covered his face as he broke down and sobbed following the confirmation that he finished just ahead of Asgreen to win Stage 19 by 0.004 seconds. Mohorič also fought tears during the award ceremony.

It was the third stage win this year for the Bahrain Victorious team, which is still mourning Gino Mäder’s death from a crash during the Tour de Suisse last month. Team riders Pello Bilbao and Wout Poels also have stage victories at this year’s Tour de France.

“It means a lot because it’s just hard and cruel to be a professional cyclist,” said Mohorič, who paid tribute to Mäder. “You suffer a lot in preparation, you sacrifice your life, your family. You do everything you can to get ready. And then after a couple of days, you realize that everyone is just so incredibly strong, that it’s just hard to follow the wheels sometimes.

“We spend more time with our teammates than with our family,” Mohorič added. “[Mäder’s death] puts everything in perspective and makes you doubt what you do, but at the end of the day, the world moves on. I really wanted to give my best because he can’t anymore.”

Mohorič, who now has three career stage victories at the Tour de France, embraced Asgreen after they crossed the line. Asgreen won Thursday’s stage in another sprint finish.

“We started this Tour under a lot of stress after the death of Gino, and Matej had the ambition to win a stage. From the beginning he was in great shape but was not rewarded until today,” Bahrain Victorious sports director Vladimir Miholjevic told reporters. “For us, doing this Tour at this level is something amazing. This stage was crazy, but we were always there. These guys always deliver. It’s a victory well deserved.”

Yellow jersey holder Vingegaard finished among his Jumbo-Visma teammates and remained the clear favorite to claim his second Tour victory Sunday. The Danish rider holds a 7-minute, 35-second lead over two-time champion Tadej Pogačar after taking control of the race in the Alps.

Pogačar’s last major chance to catch Vingegaard will be Saturday’s hilly 20th stage before the Tour finishes Sunday on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

Australian cyclist Ben O’Connor was first among the three breakaways to attack for the line, but he was caught by Mohorič and Asgreen, who seemed to cross at the same time.

Both riders were clocked at 3:31:02, the fifth-fastest stage in Tour history. O’Connor was four seconds behind in third.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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