Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) swashbuckled his way to stage victory and the maillot jaune as Mike Teunissen (Jumbo-Visma) struggled on the frantic, attackity Ardennes style finale into Epernay. Hot favourite for the stage, the Frenchman unleashed a devastating attack on the final climb, caught and passed lone leader Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) and scampered solo to the finish. Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) got the better of Trek-Segafredo’s Jasper Stuyven to complete the podium. A slight split in the field at the finish saw Egan Bernal (Ineos) and Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) gain five seconds on their GC rivals
Oh, I’m loving the Tour de France so far. Cobbles, the Muur and a tester of a finish on stage one. An unexpected team time trial result for stage two. Today the riders tackled an Ardennes style stage among the champagne vineyards. The racing was aggressive and exciting in a finale strewn with with narrow rough roads. Jerseys changed shoulders and the French got their hands on the maillot jaune for the first time in five years. If the first two stages of the Tour have been dominated by the Dutch, today surely made French hearts soar – a home victory and it’s only stage three. Goodness knows what this might unleash now that the pressure is off.
Rider of the Race
Go on, take a wild guess…
OF COURSE this goes to the Quickstepper who races with such style and passion – Julian Alaphilippe. His mastery of this parcours is undeniable. But it’s one thing to be favourite and quite another to actually deliver the result
Everyone and their Aunt knew he would attack on the final climb of the Cote de Mutigny. Yet when the it came, with that power and speed we all expect, there was nothing anyone could do about it. When he caught and passed Wellens there were still 15km of undulating road to navigate and a peloton hell bent on capturing him to keep at bay.
What followed was pure panachetastic Alaphilippe complete with teeth gritted power, the obligatory LouLou wiggle, and top tube descending which should surely carry a health warning just to watch. He held his speed and nerve on the cobbled climb to the line, was wild with joy as he crossed it and cried on the podium. A showcase of precisely why we LOVE HIM at VeloVoices Towers. Incroyable!! Unforgettable!!
I’m speechless. I don’t realise what’s happening to me. I knew this stage suited me. I managed to avoid any pitfalls and crashes. I felt good so I accelerated in the Mutigny climb but I didn’t think I’d go alone. I gave everything. I heard I was 30 or 40” ahead. It’s difficult to meet the expectations being the favourite. I made it. I’m delighted. I knew I won the stage, perhaps yellow. I dreamt so much of this happening… I had to try something. Its unbelievable that it happened.
A lead of 20 seconds on GC should see Julian at podium presentations until at least stage six.
It’s Polkas for Wellens
Lotto Soudal had two cards to play today. While the team looked to shepherd ace sprinter Caleb Ewan over the climbs, Tim Wellens made the break of the day. As the speed of the final kilometres put paid to Mr Ewan’s chances, Wellens launched a ferocious solo attack from the break, with 45km to go, which was only brought back on the final climb of the day. He suffered a mechanical just as Alaphilippe caught him which put paid to any chance of taking the Frenchman’s wheel. However, maximum points on all the climbs delivered thoroughly deserved podium time as the most aggressive rider and the polka dot jersey.
Seems like Tim had better keep a close eye on his king of the mountain’s jersey…
Hoping Deceuninck-QuickStep’s young Dane Kasper Asgreen is OK after a crash left his bike in pieces. #DaneWatch
Final word to…
Stage Results – Top 5
1 Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 4:40:29
2 Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) +0:26
3 Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) same time
4 Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) s/t
5 Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe) s/t
General Classification – Top 10
1 Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 9:32:19
2 Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) +0:20
3 Steven Kruijswijk (Team Jumbo-Visma) +0:25
4 George Bennett (Team Jumbo-Visma) same time
5 Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) +0:40
6 Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) same time
7 Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) +0:45
8 Enric Mas (Deceuninck-QuickStep) +0:46
9 Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) +0:51
10 Wilko Kelderman (Team Sunweb) same time
All the jerseys
Maillot Jaune: Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep)
Maillot Vert: Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe)
Maillot Blanc: Wout Van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma)
King of the Mountains: Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal)
For the full stage review, go to cyclingnews
Header image: Julian Alaphilippe via Getty Images