The Frenchman joins the breakaway for the third time since the start of the race.
Fifteen years ago, Belleville-en-Beaujolais hosted the finish of a Tour de France stage that ended with the breakaway taking the spoils. Now, the small town in the Rhône department returned at the race and just like in 2008, the escapees fought for victory over a 169km course featuring five classified climbs.
Despite the slight headwind at the start, the peloton rode at a ferocious pace as many riders tried to jump up the road and book a place in the breakaway. The peloton was soon split into several groups, but Julian Alaphilippe remained well positioned at all times, as more men tried to edge away on the first climb of the day and the subsequent descent. It took around 80 kilometers for the tempo to relent and a group to establish a gap, and Soudal Quick-Step’s two-time World Champion made sure of joining it after initially missing out on the move.
The Frenchman remained there, helping the group take their gap to four minutes, until the penultimate ascent, when he got distanced by the climbers who tried to make the race as hard as possible. From the small group that emerged in the front, Ion Izagirre (Cofidis) attacked with 30 kilometers to go and soloed to victory.
“The goal of our team was to be in the break with someone. Because of a crash, the bunch splintered leaving only 30-40 riders in the front, and we continued to race full gas. Then Julian managed to go in the break, but it was hard for him after all the efforts he had made in the first part of the stage. We still miss a win, but we are motivated to keep trying”, said Rémi Cavagna, our first man home Thursday afternoon.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images