Tour de France thrown into chaos after hailstorm in Alps stops crucial stage

The Tour de France was thrown into chaos on Friday after a sudden summer storm turned Stage 19 in the Alps into winter in just minutes.

The riders were flying down hairpin bends down the Col de l’Iseran – the Tour’s highest point at 9,090 feet – when a hailstorm hit lower down the valley. The sudden and violent storm caused a landslide and covered the lush summer pastures with a dusting of white, making the roads too dangerous for the cyclists to continue.

Worker use diggers to clean the road of the nineteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 126,5 kilometers (78,60 miles) with start in Saint Jean De Maurienne and finish in Tignes, France, Friday, July 26, 2019. Organizers stopped the world's premier cycling event Friday for the riders' safety when a sudden, violent storm made the route through the Alps too dangerous. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Worker use diggers to clean the road of the nineteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 126,5 kilometers (78,60 miles) with start in Saint Jean De Maurienne and finish in Tignes, France, Friday, July 26, 2019. Organizers stopped the world's premier cycling event Friday for the riders' safety when a sudden, violent storm made the route through the Alps too dangerous. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

TV coverage showed a snowplow trying to clear the road of snowy slush, awash with streams of water and ice, as the riders were speeding toward that section of the stage.

It immediately became clear that the road was unpassable on a bike.

A worker uses a digger to clean the road of the nineteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 126,5 kilometers (78,60 miles) with start in Saint Jean De Maurienne and finish in Tignes, France, Friday, July 26, 2019. Tour de France organizers stopped Stage 19 of the race because of a hail storm as Julien Alaphilippe lost his yellow jersey to Egan Bernal. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

A worker uses a digger to clean the road of the nineteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 126,5 kilometers (78,60 miles) with start in Saint Jean De Maurienne and finish in Tignes, France, Friday, July 26, 2019. Tour de France organizers stopped Stage 19 of the race because of a hail storm as Julien Alaphilippe lost his yellow jersey to Egan Bernal. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

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The leading governing body ASO made an on-the-spot decision that the safety of the riders had to come first and quickly stopped the race. Tour director Christian Prudhomme immediately announced that times for the stage would be taken at the top of the mountain.

The stoppage threw the race into chaos and even changed the leaderboard for the coveted yellow jersey.

France's Julian Alaphilippe wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey sits in the team director car during the nineteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 126,5 kilometers (78,60 miles) with start in Saint Jean De Maurienne and finish in Tignes, France, Friday, July 26, 2019. Tour de France organizers stopped Stage 19 of the race because of a hail storm as Julien Alaphilippe lost his yellow jersey to Egan Bernal. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

France's Julian Alaphilippe wearing the overall leader's yellow jersey sits in the team director car during the nineteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 126,5 kilometers (78,60 miles) with start in Saint Jean De Maurienne and finish in Tignes, France, Friday, July 26, 2019. Tour de France organizers stopped Stage 19 of the race because of a hail storm as Julien Alaphilippe lost his yellow jersey to Egan Bernal. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

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Frenchman Julian Alaphlippe, who had held the yellow jersey for much of this year’s Tour, lost the lead to Colombian rising star Egan Bernal.

The youngest rider of the tour – a pure climber – snatched the coveted tunic with a tremendous attack on the punishing climb to the Col de l’Iseran. He was 2 minutes, 7 seconds faster than Alaphlippe and it was enough to wipe away the Frenchman’s race lead.

"I gave it all, I don't have any regret," Alaphlippe said. "I've been beaten by stronger than me."

New overall leader Colombia's Egan Arley Bernal Gomez wearing the yellow jersey celebrates on the podium after the nineteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race with start in Saint Jean De Maurienne, France, Friday, July 26, 2019. Tour de France organizers stopped Stage 19 of the race because of a hail storm as Julien Alaphilippe lost his yellow jersey to Egan Bernal. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

New overall leader Colombia's Egan Arley Bernal Gomez wearing the yellow jersey celebrates on the podium after the nineteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race with start in Saint Jean De Maurienne, France, Friday, July 26, 2019. Tour de France organizers stopped Stage 19 of the race because of a hail storm as Julien Alaphilippe lost his yellow jersey to Egan Bernal. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

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The unprecedented stoppage sent a shockwave through what has been the most exciting Tour in decades. Although Bernal was all smiles as he stepped into an Ineos car, other contenders including Alaphlippe were clearly disappointed. The French rider waved his left arm in disdain while Colombian rider Rigoberto Uran looked angry.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.