Holy crap! David versus Goliath. Instincts versus power meters. An undefined Frenchman versus the returning champion. The Tour de France that was talked up as being the most open, exciting, and worthwhile to watch in memory has lived up to its potential! Who knew an individual time trial could be so thrilling, so nail biting, and so rewarding? Surely not I!
On a day where many — myself included — expected Geraint Thomas and Team Ineos to put a stranglehold on the Tour, Deceuninck-Quickstep’s Julian Alaphilippe, beautifully clad in yellow, continued his raid across his homeland to win stage 13 ahead of Thomas and formidable Belgian powerhouse, Thomas De Gendt.
Rider of the RaceEmbed from Getty Images
For too long, I have bitten my tongue on the topic of Julian Alaphilippe [probably wise, Luke … – ed] Between his facial hair, WolfPack allegiance, and scandalous smile, I have not been a fan. Today, however, I am prepared to set my issues aside. Call the press corps for I am officially a fan of Julian Alaphilippe! I would still like to submit a shave request to him, though.
Whilst it was widely believed that a lead of 1 min 12 sec would not be toppled in 27km, it was perhaps a stretch of the imagination that Julian would outrank the likes of traditional time trial heavyweights. As he so often does, however, he did! Time check after time check, he set the fastest pace. With his bike sparkling in the sunlight, Alaphilippe turned onto the final hill with a minute advantage on Thomas. After sprinting out of the saddle for what appeared to be an eternity, his burning legs crossed the line a full FOURTEEN seconds faster than Thomas had just moments ago.Embed from Getty Images
Today, Julian Alaphilippe not only won my heart, but won the hearts of millions. With the weight of a nation sitting upon his shoulders, the lad continues to outshine his own previous performances. What can’t you do, LouLou?!
At the end, my sport director said I was first, by ten seconds. Then I just gave everything I had, and I won the stage too. I couldn’t believe it. I’m just so happy. With a parcours like this and my shape, I just did everything that I can.
Soar Like a Hawk, Sink Like a Stone
Whether or not you believe that our little friend in yellow can carry his heroism through the Alps and Pyrenees and all the way to Paris, there are still riders in the general classification hunt that are worth talking about. While some of those beauts soared like hawks today after a difficult stage 10, others continued to struggle.
In a stunning turn of events, Richie Porte soared to 5th place today. Don’t get your hopes up too much, he’s still far off from being a serious contender, but good on you, Richie! On the lower slopes of excitement, French loverboy Romain Bardet ceded nearly two and a half minutes after losing time in week 1. Does this mean that we could see Bardet stage hunting in the Alps? Goodness, I sure hope so!
Colombian rock-star Rigoberto Uran and the best Instagrammer in the peloton, Thibaut Pinot, soared to finish within 35 seconds of Thomas. Had both not lost time in the stage 10 crosswinds, we could have had a serious GC battle going into tomorrow’s Col du Tourmalet. Alas, that’s not how the cookie crumbles, I’m afraid.
Spare a thought …
For Wout van Aert, who was well on his way to the best time in today’s time trial. However on one of the final bends, he got caught up in what looked like an ill-tied-down advertising banner and took a horrific spill. Taken from the course by ambulance, it was a serious crash and it was hard not to fear the worse. However, his team Jumbo-Visma have since confirmed that there were no broken bones and that the injury was a wound on the upper part of his right thigh.
Bora-hansgrohe’s Max Schachmann also went down in the final kilometres and had to abandon the Tour with multiple fractures to his left hand. We wish both riders the speediest of recovery.
Admittedly, I do not follow women’s cycling closely. Yet, La Course very well deserve its time in the limelight. It’s well worth including the results here.
Congrats to Marianne Vos for continuing her stellar season and putting on a spectacular showing for the fans!
According to sources within ASO, La Course will be expanded in the near future and will stand apart from the Tour de France. You’ve backed down many times before, ASO, please don’t disappoint us again.
The Final Word
Stage Results – Top 5
1 Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 0:35:00
2 Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) +0:14
3 Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) +0:36
4 Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) +0:36
5 Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) +0:45
General Classification – Top 10
1 Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 53:01:09
2 Geraint Thomas (Team Ineos) +1:26
3 Steven Kruijswijk (Team Jumbo-Visma) +2:12
4 Enric Mas (Deceuninck-QuickStep) +2:44
5 Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) +2:52
6 Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-hansgrohe) +3:04
7 Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) +3:22
8 Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) +3:54
9 Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) +3:55
10 Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) s/t
All the Jerseys
Maillot Jaune: Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step)
Maillot Vert: Peter Sagan (BORA-hansgrohe)
Maillot Blanc: Enric Mas (Deceuninck-Quick Step)
King of the Mountains: Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal)
Header image: ©GETTY/Velo/Tim de Waele