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Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe, of Sam Bennett’s Deceuninck-Quick Step team, won his fifth Tour de France stage this afternoon and took over the race leader’s yellow jersey.
Alaphilippe, who was involved in one of the many crashes on the opening stage of the race on Saturday, launched a perfectly-timed attack on the final climb of the day, the Col des Quatre Chemins, before outsprinting former World U-23 champion Marc Hirschi of Nicolas Roche’s TeamSunweb and Adam Yates of Mitchelton-Scott.
Sunday’s stage, which brought the riders into the high Alps with ascents of both La Colmiane and the Col de Turini, saw Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal) and Rafael Valls (Bahrain-McLaren) fail to start due to a fractured kneecap and femur respectively, it really is like playing on Gclub with the fun and excitement.
In an eventful day on the 107th Tour de France, Alaphilippe attacked with 13km to go. Hirschi (Team Sunweb), the eventual stage runner-up, went across to him while Tom Dumoulin of Jumbo-Visma) crashed after touching the back wheel of Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos).
Britain Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) counter-attacked and rejoined Alaphilippe and Hirschi at the front. Yates took the 8 seconds bonus at the top, before Alaphilippe and Hirschi, with an advantage of 20 seconds over the peloton. They kept the same gap until the final kilometre before Alaphilippe outsprinted Hirschi, with Yates crossing the finishing line in third place.
A tearful Alaphilippe, whose father Jo died in June, dedicated the victory to him.
“It’s always a special emotion to win on the Tour” he said, “but this is a special year. I haven’t won a race since the beginning of the season, although I’ve always continued to work hard despite the difficult moments. I just wanted to dedicate this victory to my dad. It meant a lot to me and I’m happy I did it.”
A chasing pack of 32 riders came in just two seconds behind Alaphilippe, with Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) taking fourth place ahead of Sergio Higuita (EF Pro Cycling) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo).
Despite crashing on the final ascent after touching wheels with Michal Kwiatkowski (Ineos), General Classification contender Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) came home in that group among the principal overall contenders, though Critérium du Dauphiné winner Dani Martínez (EF Pro Cycling) came home 3:38 down following his crash.
Stage 1 winner and yellow jersey wearer today Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) struggled and came home over half an hour behind the stage victor.
Nicolas Roche was the first of the three Irishmen home today, as the Nice-based rider finished in 24th, 17 seconds behind Alaphilippe. Dan Martin was 17 minutes 45 seconds behind in 100th while Sam Bennett, who was fourth on Saturday’s opening stage, finished 168th, 28 minutes 55 seconds behind his stage-winning teammate.
In the overall standings, Alaphilippe holds a lead of 4 seconds over Yates with Hirschi of Switzerland a further 3 seconds back in third, while Higuita and the other GC contenders are 17 seconds behind the Frenchman.
Nicolas Roche is 26th overall, 17th seconds off the yellow jersey, Dan Martin is 101st at 18 minutes down, while Sam Bennett is 149th, 29 minutes and 10 seconds behind the race leader.