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Dublin: 10 °C Saturday 22 February, 2020

French break open champagne as home favourite bags stage and Tour lead

Julian Alaphilippe produced a magnificent show of power in stage three on Monday.

Alaphilippe seizes the overall lead.
Alaphilippe seizes the overall lead.

JULIAN ALAPHILIPPE CLAIMED the yellow jersey off Mike Teunissen after a late solo charge saw him win stage three of the Tour de France.

In the first stage of this year’s tour to be finished in France following the Grand Depart in Belgium, Alaphilippe became the first French rider to secure the yellow jersey since Tony Gallopin in 2014.

Alaphilippe’s win came in dramatic fashion at the end of the 215-kilometre ride from Binche to Epernay, which concluded with a series of hills.

The Deceuninck-Quick Step rider went clear after the ascent of Cote de Mutigny, holding off the peloton over the final 15km to go over the line 26 seconds clear of Michael Matthews.

Alaphilippe now leads the general classification by 20 seconds, with Wout van Aert in second and previous leader Teunissen — who led by 10 seconds following Jumbo-Visma’s victory in the team time trial in stage two — slipping over four minutes off the pace.

Defending champion and Team INEOS co-leader Geraint Thomas sits seventh in the GC, having finished 13th in the stage and lost 15 seconds.

Thomas’ team-mate Egan Bernal finished five seconds ahead after getting on the right side of a gap in the peloton across the finish line, while Tim Wellens took the King of the Mountains jersey. 

France Cycling Tour de France Alaphilippe celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the third stage. Source: Christophe Ena

Alaphilippe started his attack with 16km remaining, going past Wellens, who had to stop to fix a flat tyre, after they crested the Cote de Mutigny.

However, the Frenchman revealed he did not plan to go it alone in the closing stages.

“I’m speechless. I don’t realise what’s happening to me,” he said. “I knew this stage suited me. I managed to avoid any pitfalls and crashes.

“I felt good so I accelerated in the Mutigny climb but I didn’t think I’d go alone. I gave everything. I heard I was 30 or 40 seconds ahead. It’s difficult to meet the expectations of being the favourite but I made it.” 

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