The Frenchman outkicked Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and Marc Hirschi (Sunweb) in a three-up sprint in Nice after the trio went clear in the final 10 kilometres of the stage.
Alaphilippe had launched the decisive action in the final 10 kilometres of the stage, attacking on the final climb and drawing out his two rivals. His stage victory also leaves him in the yellow jersey, with Yates in second overall, four seconds back.
"It's a very special emotion to win this stage of the Tour,” Alaphilippe said. “It's a very particular year. I worked really hard. I kept serious. I'm very very happy to win today. I just don't have any words."
The stage victory was Alaphilippe’s fifth Tour win, adding to the two he took last year, where he also wore the yellow jersey for 14 days and lit up French dreams of a Tour victory. Alaphilippe had cited Sunday’s mountainous parcours as one in his eye line for a stage win, and sure enough, the 28-year-old delivered on his promise and went on to dedicate the stage to his father, who passed away earlier this year.
Photo Credit: A.S.O./Thomas Maheux.
Alaphilippe has long stated he is not targeting the overall but instead looking to scoop stages. However, he’s not going to give up his prize easily.
“I’m not here to challenge for the GC," he said. "Wearing the yellow jersey is a source of enormous pride. You have to defend it. It’s the Tour de France… So I’ll defend it with everything I’ve got, but you have to be realistic… Still, I’m not ready to give it back tomorrow.”
Yates is also looking to come away from the Tour with stage wins, and was satisfied with his day.
"I’m happy with my third,” Yates said after the stage. “No one wanted to be on the front there. I told the team in the winter that I wanted to go to the Tour and be aggressive in the first week. They never let me do that before. So here we are, it turned out pretty good.”
Sunday made for a tough day of climbing, packing nearly 3,800m of ascent. Photo Credit: ASO
Matteo Trentin (CCC-Team), Peter Sagan (Bora Hansgrohe), Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-Quick Step) and Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) were among the eight that jumped into an early break. After scooping up the intermediate sprint points on offer just 16km into the stage, Trentin dropped back into the bunch to leave seven out front.
With a big day in the mountains and sore bodies after a crash-filled stage Saturday, the peloton tapped up the two opening cat 1 climbs under clear blue skies. Sagan was dropped out of the break on Col de Turini, the second pass of the day, as the remaining escapees held a gap of between three to four minutes going over the summit.
After the chaotic stage Saturday, the notoriously long, treacherous descent of the Turini saw Jumbo-Visma mass on the front of the bunch to safely lead the race down the tight, narrow hairpins of the 1,600-metre climb.
Photo Credit: A.S.O./Alex Broadway.
Going into the first of the two final climbs, the bunch of six was finally scooped up as the peloton cranked the pace in anticipation of the steep opening ramps of the Col d’Eze.
Young American Nielson Powless (EF Pro Cycling) threw the dice on the Eze with a brief skirmish off the front before being scooped up by the rapidly-reducing peloton as Deceuninck-Quick-Step and then Jumbo-Visma drove the pace, with other GC teams massing behind in advance of yet-another tricky descent through the twisting streets of downtown Nice.
Quick-Step again took control on the short kicker of the Quatre Chemins, with Alaphilippe lurking dangerously in wheel two.
“I asked the team to work really hard for me on the final climb because there weren't many riders left,” Alaphilippe said after the stage. "I gave everything because I have nothing to lose."
Alalphilippe made his move halfway up the climb, with Hirshi bridging across and Jumbo-Visma and Ineos Grenadiers leading the bunch 10 seconds behind.
Adam Yates was next to go, bridging across to the attackers and then stealing the bonus seconds available at the summit as he out-sprinted Alaphilippe at the line.
Ineos Grenadiers led the bunch through the descent 20 seconds behind the leaders, while up front, Alaphilippe, Yates and Hirschi worked together through the final flat run-in to the finish line in central Nice.
Photo Credit: A.S.O./Alex Broadway.
Going under the red kite, the trio began cat-and-mousing in advance of the sprint as the peloton rapidly gained ground.
Alaphilippe left it to the very last second to launch his winning kick as the bunch roared into view just 100 metres back. The Frenchman launched from Adam Yates, coming around the Brit who was soon distanced. Hirschi took Alaphilippe all the way to the line as the pair almost drew level, but Alaphilippe had the legs to go the distance and take the stage.
Overnight GC leader Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) finished several minutes back after the burly sprinter rode home in the grupetto.
Hero Image ©Kristof Ramon
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