The double World Champion once again features in the breakaway.
Punctuated by five classified climbs, the first stage of the second week was arguably the hardest of the entire race so far, due to the temperatures hitting 40 degrees Celsius and the wild tempo in the first two hours, when it seemed that half of the peloton wanted to be in the breakaway.
Among the very first to show his intentions was a native of Clermont-Ferrand – where the peloton spent the first rest day – Rémi Cavagna, who attacked on the slopes of the first ascent. Although short-lived, that signalled the start of more moves, one of which had Julian Alaphilippe in the spotlight. An excellent descender, Loulou went clear in the downhill, but despite opening what promised to be a good gap over the chasers, he too was reeled in.
It didn’t end there, with more groups trying their luck on the hills of the Auvergne, and in the end, after some sixty insane kilometers, a group took off. Having missed the breakaway, Julian went again on the offensive, and with the help of Kasper Asgreen, who put in a mammoth amount of work, he eventually joined the leaders as they were preparing for the penultimate climb of stage ten.
Skirmishes between the members of the breakaway soon started, and the group splintered. Alaphilippe found himself trailing, one minute behind, but he didn’t give up and together with the other three men in the group inched closer to the leaders, bringing the gap down to twenty seconds in the last two kilometers. Despite some fierce chasing, they ran out of road and the break made it, Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) taking the win, while Julian finished tenth. Half an hour later, the sprinters came home, and Fabio Jakobsen was there, after another fantastic effort of him and his teammates to make it inside the time cut.
“We knew that today would be hard, especially with the heat. I was in the front with Kasper and I came close to fighting for victory on a very tough day from start to finish. The level here is so high you can’t find a moment to recover from your effort. We gave the maximum to close the gap, but we couldn’t manage it despite working well together. I feel better than in the beginning of the Tour and I am motivated to keep trying”, said the two-time World Champion.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images