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Alaphilippe wins Stage 2, takes yellow jersey as Tour de France makes an early mountains excursion

Loulou dedicates victory to late father

Photo by: Sirotti

Julian Alaphilippe won his fifth stage of the Tour de France on Sunday, taking the yellow jersey from Alexander Kristoff, as the race made an early excursion into the mountains around Nice. The French buccaneer wore yellow for 14 stages in the last edition.

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The Course

There were proper mountains in Sunday’s “Paris-Nice stage”. Two Cat. 1 climbs came in the first half of the day, the Col de la Colmaine and Col de Turini both familiar from Paris-Nice, before Cat. 2 Col d’Èze with 33-km to go and then the race’s first bonus-second ascent (Col des Quatre Chemins) peaking 9-km before the finish.

Unlike Saturday, with its wet and slick roads, Sunday proved hot and sunny.

Breakaway on the Cat. 1 climbs

With so many KOM points on offer, and a Cat. 1 so early in the route, a sizeable breakaway was sure to form. Peter Sagan, keeping Alexander Kristoff’s green points jersey warm, was the most notable name in a band of eight. He couldn’t win the day’s intermediate sprint at the 15-km mark against Matteo Trentin. Benoît Cosnefroy (France/AG2R La Mondiale) dashed ahead of his breakmates on the Colmaine to take maximum points and the virtual polka dot jersey.

Col de Turini (14.9 km at 7.4 percent) saw both Sagan and Cosnefroy drop away from the breakaway. Kristoff lost contact with the peloton.

Cosnefroy made it back just in time for the KOM sprint, won by Nicolas Edet (France/Cofidis) and putting the two Frenchmen level on points.

Several teams had expressed their concern with gravel on the descent of Turini, but everyone made it down safely.

The Finale

Under Jumbo-Visma and EF Pro Cycling’s impetus, the peloton looked likely to overtake the break and a GC rider likely to make a move on the 7.8 km, 5.9 percent Col d’Èze. The escapees caught, no one was able to get away, and Jumbo-Visma led a streamlined bunch over the top.

Col des Quatre Chemins is the first part of the Col d’Èze. Eight, five and two bonus seconds were on offer at the top, its crest at 9 km to go. Deceuninck-Quick Step took over from Jumbo. Alaphilippe then attacked with 3 km to the top.

Swiss Marc Hirschi of Team Sunweb went with him and then Adam Yates bridged over. At the peak Yates nabbed the eight seconds, Alaphilippe the five and Hirschi the two.

The trio worked hard to stay ahead of the chasing bunch. In the sprint Alaphilippe hugged the left hand barriers and held off a late charge by Hirschi. Loulou dedicated the win to his recently departed father.

Alaphilippe leads Yates by four seconds on GC. A clump of contenders sits 17-seconds behind. Fabio Aru and Dani Martinez dropped out of contention on the day. Cosnefroy finished ahead of Perez and will wear the polka dots on Monday.

Monday’s stage is a lumpy affair but should end up in a sprinters’ skirmish.

2020 Tour de France Stage 2
1) Julian Alaphilippe (France/Deceuninck-Quick Step) 4:55:27
2) Marc Hirschi (Switzerland/Team Sunweb) s.t.
3) Adam Yates (Great Britain/Mitchelton-Scott) s.t.
128) Hugo Houle (Canada/Astana) +12:38

2020 Tour de France GC
1) Julian Alaphilippe (France/Deceuninck-Quick Step) 8:41:35
2) Adam Yates (Great Britain/Mitchelton-Scott) +0:04
3) Marc Hirschi (Switzerland/Team Sunweb) +0:07
121) Hugo Houle (Canada/Astana) +21:53