The yellow jersey swapped shoulders on the Tour de France’s first mountain stage, as Giulio Ciccone (Italy/Trek-Segafredo) survived from Thursday’s breakaway to take the lead from Julian Alaphilippe, even though Dylan Teuns (Belgium/Bahrain-Merida) took the win. The GC battle on La Planche des Belles Filles saw small gains from Geraint Thomas and Thibaut Pinot, while Steven Kruijswijk and Romain Bardet suffered the biggest time losses. Michael Woods moved up to 9th place.

The Course

The first mountains would be those of the Vosges. Riders had seven categorized climbs in 160.5 km, with the finish on the fearsome La Planche des Belles Filles, 7 km of 8.7 percent, the final graveled kilometre its steepest–the last 500-metres reached over 20 percent. The penultimate climb offered the 2019 Tour’s second set of bonus seconds.

Could Alaphilippe survive in yellow on such a nasty ascent? Would Wout Van Aert keep the white jersey? Would any of the riders let hair grow on the sides and back of their heads?

The Breakaway

Fourteen riders skipped away before the first Cat. 1 climb. Polka dot jersey holder Tim Wellens and Giro d’Italia mountains classification winner Ciccone started a KOM points scrap, with Wellens’ Lotto-Soudal teammate Thomas De Gendt there to nick points away from Ciccone if need be. With 82 km and four climbs to go the break had a 7:30 gap.

Deceuninck-Quick Step and Ineos were at the front of the peloton until the Cat. 1 Ballon d’Alsace where Movistar took over. But it was Bora’s forcing on the descent that split the main group.

On the penultimate climb, Movistar continued to set the pace. At the crest, Ciccone nabbed the maximum points and eight seconds that would put him in yellow at the end of the day.

La Planche des Belles Filles

It was time for the big showdown. The Wellens-Ciccone quartet started up with a 4:00 lead.

Movistar stopped working when Alejandro Valverde dropped away from the front and Ineos came forward. Wellens couldn’t hang on to Ciccone, who soon only had Teuns for company.

Soon after French champion Warren Barguil tried a dig, Mikel Landa attacked hard. Pinot’s Groupama-FDJ took over from Ineos on the business end of the GC group.

Groupama brought back Landa before the gravel. Teuns finally cracked Ciccone on the steepest grade for his first Grand Tour victory. Alaphilippe then skipped away, drawing Thomas and Pinot. Nairo Quintana and Emanual Buchmann eked out a couple of seconds behind.

Friday is one for the sprinters.

2019 Tour de France Stage 6
1) Dylan Teuns (Belgium/Bahrain-Merida) 4:29:03
2) Giulio Ciccone (Italy/Trek-Segafredo) +0:11
3) Xandro Meurisse (Belgium/Wanty-Gobert) +1:05
16) Michael Woods (Canada/EF Education First) +2:02

2019 Tour de France GC
1) Giulio Ciccone (Italy/Trek-Segafredo)
2) Julian Alaphilippe (France/Deceuninck-Quick Step) +0:06
3) Dylan Teuns (Belgium/Bahrain-Merida) +0:32
4) George Bennett (New Zealand/Jumbo-Visma) +0:47
5) Geraint Thomas (Great Britain/Ineos) +0:49
6) Egan Bernal (Colombia/Ineos) +0:53
7) Thibaut Pinot (France/Groupama-FDJ) +0:58
8) Steven Kruijswijk (The Netherlands/Jumbo-Visma) +1:04
9) Michael Woods (Canada/EF Education First) +1:13
10) Rigoberto Uran (Colombia/EF Education First) +1:15

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