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NEWS & RACING BROUGHT TO YOU BY CHAPTER2 BIKES
After a long drive south and a well-earned rest day in Annecy, the Tour resumed with its first foray into the Alps, a 158.5km stage featuring five categorised climbs. It was a stage that was expected to deliver its share of drama — and it lived up to those expectations.
The tone of the race was aggressive from the offset with a large breakaway group slipping away early – a mix of seasoned campaigners like Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie), opportunists looking for early sprint points (Peter Sagan) and those looking for stage honours. As the challenging parcours began to take a toll, the group was steadily whittled down to an elite handful including Julian Alaphilippe and Phillip Gilbert (Quickstep Floors), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), Robert Gesink (Lotto NL-Jumbo) and Rein Taaramae (Cofidis).
Alaphilippe was clearly having a stellar day, making a play for KOM points at the top of the Montée du plateau des Glieres and going solo on the gravel sector after the summit. Meanwhile in the peloton behind, Froome was briefly dropped following a mechanical, returning to the peloton without incident.
With the front of the race back together again, Rein Taaramae went on the attack on the Col de Romme, ahead of an increasingly thinning chasing group that still featured a gutsy maillot jaune. Alaphilippe put in another strong dig, bridging to Taaramae, then rode him off his wheel, claiming more KOM points (and guaranteeing himself the jersey at stage’s end).
Alaphilippe descended like a demon, stretching his advantage as he attacked the final climb of the day, the Col de La Colombiere (7.5km @ 8.5%). After the summit, the stage finish awaited in the valley below, and Alaphilippe held enough of a gap that he was able to savour an emotional victory. The other big winner of the day, coming to the line at the back of the second bunch on the road, was Greg Van Avermaet, who now takes a 2:22 lead on the GC over Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) heading into the second day in the Alps.