Greg Van Avermaet extended his lead in the yellow jersey with a superb ride as Julian Alaphilippe won stage 10 of the Tour de France
Julien Alaphilippe prolonged French hangovers from World Cup celebrations by becoming the first home stage winner in this year’s Tour de France, after a long-range attack in the hills of the Haute Savoie led to a solo win in Le Grand-Bornand.
But the Frenchman’s success came at the expense of Geraint Thomas, whose hopes of slipping into the yellow jersey were dashed after the race leader, Greg Van Avermaet, infiltrated the same breakaway earlier in the stage and held on to actually widen his overall lead.
Speaking after the stage, Thomas did his best to hide his frustration.” We were expecting that ,” he said.” Van Avermaet did it the last period he had the jersey. It would have been nice to take it but it’s the Tour de France- nothing comes easy. But the team rode well, that was the main thing .”
Behind Alaphilippe and Van Avermaet, Sky adopted their now familiar catenaccio style, controlling the peloton with a steady tempo on every climb and discouraging any further attacks.” There were some steep climbs and we were expecting it to actually kick off somewhere on the last two ,” Thomas said.” But that never actually materialised. I guess there was a bit of a headwind on that last climbing. With two big Alpine days to come everyone was probably saving it a bit- or on the limit. I don’t know .”
It was a relatively uneventful day for Chris Froome too, apart from a puncture on the dirt segment of the Plateau des Glieres climb.” It was a little bit of wacky races going on there ,” Froome said.” I had a puncture, got a spare wheel from a teammate only to find out that was flat as well. So it was a little bit of a comedy of errors going on. But thankfully it was still far away from the finish, so the race wasn’t too crazy and I was able to get back in .”
Only a late foray by Dan Martin, win of the stage to Mur de Bretagne, livened up the final ascent, the Col de la Colombiere.” It was a block headwind so every bit of common sense said’ don’t attack ‘, but our scheme from the start was if guys are five or 10 seconds off the back at the top of the climbing then it could be a minute by the finish line ,” he said.
” For the sake of doing a little sprint, stimulating it hard, anybody put in the red could have been dropped ,” said the Irishman, whose explosion towards the final summit was enough to distance the Colombian Rigoberto Uran, second to Froome in Paris in 2017 and now almost four minutes behind the defending champion.
Martin admitted, though, that the first Alpine stage had been something of a stalemate.” That’s what happens when you get three hard days in a row ,” he said, referring to the forthcoming ski station finishes at La Rosiere and Alpe d’Huez.” The next two days are going to be brutal and also, this was the stage after the rest day but the wearing-down process has begun. There’s going to be a lot more guys attacking tomorrow .”
If Thomas voiced disappointed not to pull on the maillot jaune , Dave Brailsford chuckled off comments from Bradley Wiggins that his management style was ” divisive” and “self-serving”. The Team Sky principal said:” I’ve been called a lot worse. On my Richter scale, that’s not bad. I can take that. Over the years, we’ve always tried to build teams where the top guys are very close together and they have got their own ambitions .”
But Brailsford also hinted that there had been lessons learned from the Froome-Wiggins feud of July 2012, when both riders seemed intent on winning the Tour.” As you get older and wiser ,” he said,” and you learn from your missteps you know how to manage these situations, and openness is the key.You learn to talk to everybody together, be clear and frank with everybody, and these guys know the score .”
But he was insistent there would be no infighting during this year’s Tour.” It’s a totally different dynamic from what we’ve had in the past- Chris and Geraint have grown up together, they have known one another a long time, they are 32 and 33 years old, they’re not young chaps and they are pretty easy to manage, to be honest. Four of the riders are over 30, two are 28 and when you tot up how many Grand Tours they have done between them there is an enormous amount of experience on that bus ,” Brailsford said.
Alaphilippe, who also won a stage of the 2014 Tour de l’Avenir on similar roads that included the gravel section of the Plateau des Glieres, also claimed the King of the Mountains jersey. It was the Quickstep team’s third stage win of the 2018 Tour and their 50 th victory of the season.
” It was a big objective to take a stage in the Tour de France and a really proud moment in order to be allowed to win ,” Alaphilippe said.” I was able to enjoy it a bit on the downhill and realise what I’d done. It was an incredible feeling in the last kilometre .”
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