Julian Alaphilippe defied expectations on Friday by not only holding onto the yellow jersey as overall leader – and not only limiting his losses – but actually winning the race’s only individual time trial outright, and expanding his lead of the Tour de France.
Alaphilippe started the day with an overall advantage of one minute and 12 seconds over defending champion Geraint Thomas, and while many believed he’d be able to defend the jersey and maintain at least some of that advantage, no one foresaw him besting a strong time trialist like Thomas by 14 seconds. Alaphilippe – who is neither a time trialist nor a Grand Tour leader – now leads the Tour by one minute and 26 seconds, and will pull on the day’s yellow jersey for the ninth time tomorrow, as the race heads into the high mountains of the Pyrenees.
Tomorrow’s Stage 14 will be the biggest challenge yet in this Tour de France, however, as it finishes atop one of the country’s most famous climbs: the Col du Tourmalet. Few expect that Alaphilippe will remain in yellow by the end of the stage (but then again, few expected him to go so well today).
The other big surprise of the day was Thomas de Gendt, who held the fastest time over the 27-kilometer course for most of the day. The breakaway master, who won Stage 8 in a thriller that put Alaphilippe back in yellow and who currently sits second in the King of the Mountains classification, set a time of 35 minutes and 36 seconds, and was only unseated by Thomas, the penultimate rider on the course, and then Alaphilippe.
There were a few other surprises today, too – one quite nasty. Halfway through what many expected to be one of the best performances of the day, Wout Van Aert rounded a tight bend and was jousted from his bike by a protrusion on one of the barriers. He went to the ground in a tangled mess and remained there for some time. Early reports indicate a deep gash in one thigh, though no broken bones. He will have to exit the race, however.
So how did the other favorites fare?
- Rigoberto Uran missed out on Thomas de Gendt’s time by less than a second, and jumped from 12th to 8th place overall.
- Richie Porte and Steven Kruijswijk came in 5th and 6th, respectively, with the same finishing time, 45 seconds behind Alaphilippe (and just 31 seconds behind Geraint Thomas). Porte moves up a few places, into 15th, while Kruijswijk now sits in third place overall.
- Thibaut Pinot, who gained time on his Stage 8 raid, only to lose it in the crosswinds two days later did well to limit his losses today. He finished 7th, just four seconds behind Porte and Kruijswijk. That was good enough to jump him from 10th to 7th overall.
- Egan Bernal surely must now accept his fate as second banana on Team Ineos after finishing in 22nd place, almost a minute and a half behind now-undisputed team leader Geraint Thomas.
- Nairo Quintana, Adam Yates, and Dan Martin are all hopeful to win the Tour, but they stunk today, all finishing around two minutes behind Geraint Thomas. Yates, who should’ve been the best of the lot, was the worst. And Quintana was 40 seconds slower than teammate Alejandro Valverde, who is seen as Movistar’s third option on the road…
Climbers like Yates, Quintana, and Dan Martin have until now simply been biding their time and limiting their losses, waiting for Stage 14 and the beginning of the real mountains in this year’s Tour. Having lost a chunk of time today, though, they’ll face with even greater urgency tomorrow’s relatively short, 117-kilometer stage, which will send the riders up one minor climb and then the first-category Col du Soulor, before finishing on one of the race’s greatest icons: the beyond-category summit of the Tourmalet.
|3||Thomas De Gendt||+00:00:36|
|4||Rigoberto Uran Uran||+00:00:36|
|5||Egan Arley Bernal Gomez||+00:02:52|
|8||Rigoberto Uran Uran||+00:03:54|
|9||Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas||+00:03:55|