The 31-year-old Frenchman featured in the main breakaway of the day for the fifth time in the last two weeks.
Col de la Loze – the gruelling and never-ending climb that was used for the first time in 2020 made its return on stage 17, which travelled from Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc to Courchevel. The relentless heat, the maximum altitude (2304 meters) and the more than 5000 vertical meters combined for the hardest day of this edition, but this didn’t stop Julian Alaphilippe from going on the attack as soon as the flag was dropped.
On the day the prestigious yellow jersey turned 104 years, Julian made his intentions of joining the break known with a powerful acceleration that immediately saw him open a gap over the peloton. Eventually joined by other riders, he continued to push hard as he crested the top of the first classified climb, and with the help of his superb descending skills he built a 20-second advantage. The following ascent helped the chasers come back, a massive 33-man group forming at the front, with both Julian and Dries Devenyns part of this move whose buffer hovered around three minutes.
Our guys’ valiant effort helped them remain up the road until the first kilometers of Col de la Loze, that monster of a climb whose double-digit gradients fragmented the group. Only a handful of men from the original breakaway made it over the top ahead of the yellow jersey, and Felix Gall (AG2R Citroen) was the one to take the win on the Courchevel altiport.
Julian, who has now been part of five breakaways since the start of the Tour de France, was the first Soudal Quick-Step rider home on this penultimate mountain stage.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele / Getty Images