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Hello again, CyclingTips readers, and welcome to the first news Digest from the 2020 Tour de France!
After Saturday’s wet and crash-marred opener, things dried off for stage 2 of the Tour, where a lumpy profile gave the punchier riders a chance to shine. And at the end of the day, it was one of the peloton’s very punchiest who rode to the win and the race lead.
Julian Alaphilippe, who spent more than half of last year’s Tour in yellow, is back in the maillot jaune after taking Sunday’s stage 2 in a three-rider sprint.
Read on for more …
| Alaphilippe wins stage 2 of the Tour de France
Julian Alaphilippe won stage 2 of the Tour de France on Sunday and now leads the race.
The Frenchman jumped clear with Marc Hirschi and Adam Yates in the final 15 kilometers of the race, and the trio held on to contest the stage win. Although Hirschi did make it close in the closing meters, there was no catching Alaphilippe at the line. The new race leader pointed to the sky upon crossing the line in a tribute to his father, who passed away in June.
“I wanted so much to get a stage victory for my late father,” Alaphilippe said. “This was my main goal coming into the race. Everything that comes from now on is a bonus, but I wanted this victory for him and knowing that I got it makes me so happy.”
The 186-kilometer stage that start and finished in Nice saw eight riders jump clear only a few minutes into the stage with Peter Sagan, Kasper Asgreen, Toms Skujins, Lukas Pöstlberger, Benoît Cosnefroy, Anthony Perez, Michael Gogl, and Matteo Trentin forming the early break. Trentin was dropped before long but the rest of the group worked well together for a while, maintaining a hefty lead until hitting the second climb of the day, the Col de Turini, where the break began to split up and the pack began to close in. Meanwhile, several top sprinters found themselves shelled out the back of the pack on the tough gradients.
Six surviving escapees held on with a small advantage on the peloton for some time longer but the pack made the catch before the Col d’Eze. A strong pace from Jumbo-Visma up and over the climb saw the main group continue to lose riders, leaving a whittled down peloton on the run-in to the uncategorized final climb.
With 13 kilometers to go, Alaphilippe made his move, and at first only Hirschi responded. A minute later, Yates surged off the front of the chasing group and quickly closed down the gap, and from the trio gradually grew its lead. In the pack behind, Tom Dumoulin hit the deck after a touch of wheels, but quickly rejoined the peloton.
With three kilometers to go it was clear that the three riders off the front would contest the win, and in the final sprint, it was Alaphilippe who proved fastest, nabbing stage 2 and taking the race lead.
Top 10, stage 2
1 ALAPHILIPPE Julian (Deceuninck – Quick Step) 4:55:27
2 HIRSCHI Marc (Team Sunweb)
3 YATES Adam (Mitchelton-Scott) 0:01
4 VAN AVERMAET Greg (CCC Team) 0:02
5 HIGUITA Sergio (EF Pro Cycling)
6 MOLLEMA Bauke (Trek – Segafredo)
7 LUTSENKO Alexey (Astana Pro Team)
8 POGACAR Tadej (UAE-Team Emirates)
9 SCHACHMANN Maximilian (BORA – hansgrohe)
10 BETTIOL Alberto (EF Pro Cycling)
Top 10, GC
1 ALAPHILIPPE Julian (Deceuninck – Quick Step) 8:41:35
2 YATES Adam (Mitchelton-Scott) 0:04
3 HIRSCHI Marc (Team Sunweb) 0:07
4 HIGUITA Sergio (EF Pro Cycling) 0:17
5 POGACAR Tadej (UAE-Team Emirates)
6 CHAVES Esteban (Mitchelton-Scott)
7 FORMOLO Davide (UAE-Team Emirates)
8 BERNAL Egan (INEOS Grenadiers)
9 CARAPAZ Richard (INEOS Grenadiers)
10 DUMOULIN Tom (Team Jumbo-Visma)
| Gilbert does not start Tour’s second stage due to injuries from stage 1 crash
Lotto-Soudal was without two of its marquee riders after just one stage at the Tour de France.
After John Degenkolb missed the time cut on the opening stage following a bad crash, the team announced Sunday morning that Philippe Gilbert would not be making the start on stage 2. The 38-year-old Belgian suffered a broken patella in a crash.
| Poels rides on at the Tour despite broken ribs and bruised lung
Wout Poels made the start on Sunday’s stage 2 of the Tour de France despite suffering multiple injuries in a crash on the opening stage.
The 32-year-old Dutchman, who joined Bahrain-McLaren this year after five seasons with the Sky/Ineos organization, wrote on social media that he suffered “Fracture to the rib and [a] few bruises to the lung,” in a crash late on stage 1. He nevertheless continued on stage 2 and made it to the finish.
| Merlier wins the Brussels Cycling Classic
Over in Belgium on Sunday, Tim Merlier sprinted to victory at the Brussels Cycling Classic in what marks his second win of 2020.
The 2019 Belgian national road champion proved fastest in a sprint finale, topping the up-and-coming Davide Ballerini and Nacer Bouhanni after a little over 200 kilometers of racing.
In case you missed it
| Tony Martin’s truce turned the peloton into its own patron
As Caley Fretz writes, the peloton decided to look after itself on stage 1.
| La Course gallery: Three world champions and a thrilling sprint
Photos from Kristof Ramon and Cor Vos and captions from Matt de Neef tell the story of Saturday’s excellent edition of La Course.
| Gallery: A sketchy slip and slide on stage 1 at the Tour
As chaotic as it was, the opening stage of the Tour did make for some compelling imagery.
| Video: Bikes of the Tour de France
Dave Everett and Abby Mickey take a closer look at some bikes from the Tour peloton.
| Charting the 2020 Tour de France
VeloClub member Cameron Harris is back with some more great journalism.
Today’s featured image of Julian Alaphilippe winning stage 2 of the Tour de France comes from Cor Vos.