The Frenchman was our first rider home on the hard stage five.
For the third time in history, the race ventured in the Jura department, after the 1970 and 1974 editions. On the menu, a 191.5km hilly stage from Cormoranche-sur-Saône to Salins-les-Bains, and three classified climbs, including the leg-sapping Côte de Thésy, whose steep and punishing gradients promised fireworks less than twenty kilometers from the line.
Soudal Quick-Step controlled the stage – which was raced at an insane speed in the opening hours – and the gap of the escapees the entire day with the likes of Rémi Cavagna and Florian Sénéchal, before Andrea Bagioli picked up at the base of the final ascent and increased the speed with Julian Alaphilippe on his wheel. When the first big moves came more than two kilometers from the top, the stage 2 winner responded with ease, but couldn’t follow later when the GC guys went on the attack.
The double World Champion remained calm, part of a strong chasing group which tried to reduce the gap of solo leader Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) on the descent, and even helped with the chase before bolting clear from the small peloton in the last 200 meters to take a solid runner-up place. The result catapulted Alaphilippe to an impressive third on the overall ranking ahead of the first uphill finish of the race.
“We raced à bloc today from the beginning. The team did a great job again, we had a plan, but in the end the climb was a bit too hard for me. When the first attack came, I managed it quite well, but when Vingegaard went it wasn’t possible for me to follow. I am a bit disappointed because I couldn’t repay the squad for their amazing job with a win, but I don’t have any regrets, because I did my best, and second in these conditions is still a good result. We will continue to take it day by day and see what we can do in the remaining stages”, Julian said after his seventh podium at the race.
Photo credit: ©Dario Belingheri / Getty Images