Ring those bells and hang out the bleu-blanc-rouge bunting, stage 10 of the Tour de France gave us a French victory full of fight and Gallic flair!!! Julian Alaphilippe attacked on the first of five climbs to force the break, teased all his companions to breaking point, before launching a solo raid on the Col de Romme that no one could match. One seat-of-the-pants Col de la Colombière descent later, and he was over the finish line in tears of joy to claim his first Tour de France victory and a trip to the King of the Mountains podium as well. Race leader Greg Van Avermaet was simply majestic. Not only did he get into the break, he climbed like a mountain goat to finish fourth and extend his lead to over 2 minutes on a whole flock of GC contenders.
Rider of the race
There is nothing as joyful as watching a rider like Quick-Step Floor’s Alaphilippe master a stage littered with climbs and sketchy descents. He’s thrilling to watch and boy was he singing like a nightingale today. So you will understand that it takes a truly remarkable performance for me to award the VeloVoices Rider of the Race to someone else. Step up to the podium Greg van Avermaet.
With three Cat one and an HC climb on the menu, no one expected BMC’s captain to hold onto yellow. Seems this was a memo Greg tore up and ate with his porridge this morning. He grabbed the race and shook it up. Powering into the early break, sunshine highlighting the maillot jaune beautifully against the blue alpine skies. He was still there as the group went over the Montée du plateau des Glières, the gravelly goodness at the top a welcome relief to his classics legs.
Breakaway companions were whittled away. He hung tough. He was dropped when the attacks came. He hung tough. He found the wheel of LottoNL-Jumbo’s Robert Gesink and kept pushing the pedals around, not giving an inch he could not reclaim on the descents.
At the summit of the final climb he joined fellow Belgian Serge Pauwels (Dimension Data) and blistered down the descent to claim a brilliant fourth pace and extend his grip on the yellow jersey to 2:24 mins.
The race jury awarded him the combativity prize, the first rider to win while in yellow since Bjarne Riis in 1996. That’s how you honour the race, that’s how you ride in the maillot jaune and that’s why he’s my rider of the race. This quote post race says it all.
I had the privilege of writing the stage review when Alaphilippe finally conquered La Fleche Wallone this spring. That’s the puncheur’s stage finish we all expect him to shine on. It didn’t go to plan on the Mur de Bretagne (Stage 6) and that disappointment surely spurred him on today. He was fire and ice. Itching to attack, dancing on the pedals, playing with his adversaries, yet also the very definition of insousiance and determination. It was all the more panachetastic because it was so unexpected.
There’s a lot of emotion, because winning at the Tour is not easy. I came close in my first Tour two years ago, and to win in this way, it’s unexpected because… I don’t even have the words… I’m just thinking about my family. I’m happy to make them happy.
His first Tour de France victory, the Quickstepper’s 50th win of 2018 and you KNOW he’s going to rock the polka dots!
What else happened?
The top ten on GC shaken up but there was little movement among the overall favourites who all came in together after Team Sky and a headwind put paid to any thoughts of attack, although Dan Martin (UAE-Emirates) gave it a go.
There was a split in the leading group on the last climb with Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors), Rafal Majka (Bora-hansgrohe) and Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin finishing over a minute behind the main group. Still suffering from his crash on stage 9, Rigoberto Uran‘s (EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale) endured a difficult day and is now over 7 minutes adrift of the yellow jersey.
The gruppetto including Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel made it to the finish line, with 28 seconds to spare before the hors delai time cut. I don’t know who was in charge of operations in that group of riders, but that was masterful, if stressful, timing.
La Course by Le Tour
The women’s peloton put on a FANTASTIC show of full-gas racing for the one stage of La Course. Many of the riders had come straight from the Giro Rosa which finished on Sunday to tackle two of the same climbs as the men faced later in the day.
In a breathless finish, Orica-Scott’s Anemiek van Vleuten stalked down and caught fellow Dutch woman Anna van der Breggen (Boels-Dolmans) just metres from the finish line after a high speed chase from the top of the Col de la Colombiere. Ashleigh Moolman Pasio (Cervelo-Bigla) rounded out the podium, though that term hardly does justice to her stylish performance.
The last kilometre and some highlights are below. PLEASE seek out the longer version, sit back and enjoy the show. It was full on, edge-of-your-seat exciting.
As impressive as the podium riders were, my rider of the race has to go to fellow Cervelo Bigla teammate Cecilie Uttrup Ludwig. Yes for her kickass and gutsy attack…
… but also for her passion and eloquence on women’s racing. Her words post race should make race organisers sit up and think. The racing today should seal the deal. It was thrilling. Let’s have a proper multi-stage race please ASO.
1 Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) 4:25:27
2 Ion Izaguirre (Bahrain-Merida) +1:34
3 Rein Taaramae (Direct Energie) +1:40
4 Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) +1:44
5 Serge Pauwels (Dimension data) same time
GC Top 10
1 Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) 40:34:28
2 Geraint Thomas (Sky) +2:22
3 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +3:10
4 Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) +3:12
5 Bob Jungels (Quick-Step Floors) +3:20
6 Chris Froome (Sky) +3:21
7 Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) same time
8 Mikel Landa (Movistar) s/t
9 Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) +3:27
10 Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) +3:36
All the jerseys
Leader’s jersey: Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)
Points jersey: Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe)
KOM jersey: Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors)
Best young rider: Pierre Latour (Ag2r)
Most combative: Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)
Listen to Stage 9’s VeloVoices Tour in 5 podcast now on any podcast browser, even Spotify! and remember, you can get involved too!
Header image: © Chris Graythen/Getty Image