Thomas loses handful of seconds as Alaphilippe wins stage three to take Tour lead

Julian Alaphilippe wins stage three of the 2019 Tour de France

French rider Julian Alaphilippe was many people’s pre-race tip to win the stage

Geraint Thomas lost time on two of his Tour de France rivals as France’s Julian Alaphilippe took the yellow jersey with a solo win on stage three.

Thomas lost five seconds to his Ineos co-leader Egan Bernal and France’s Thibaut Pinot at the finish in Epernay.

Alaphilippe’s late attack on the Cote de Mutigny saw him ride clear of the peloton to win by 26 seconds.

Australia’s Michael Matthews and Belgium’s Jasper Stuyven were second and third.

Defending champion Thomas stayed out of trouble on the 215km stage which travelled from Belgium into the heart of France’s champagne region.

But the Welshman lost ground on the 500m uphill sprint to the line as his Colombian team-mate Bernal and Groupama-FDJ rider Pinot stole a march on him.

Thomas remains seventh in the general classification, seven seconds ahead of Pinot in 12th.

Britain’s Mitchelton-Scott rider Adam Yates finished 25th in the same time as Thomas alongside a host of other general classification contenders, including Jumbo Visma’s Steven Kruijswijk, AG2R La Mondiale’s Romain Bardet and the 2014 champion, Bahrain Merida’s Vincenzo Nibali.

Jumbo-Visma rider Mike Teunissen, who started the day in the yellow jersey, cracked on the final climb to finish almost five minutes down on Alaphilippe.

‘I didn’t plan to go solo’

The stage had sparked into life though on the final climb of the day, at the Cote de Mutigny about 15km from the end, when Alaphilippe launched a devastating attack.

The 27-year-old Deceuninck-Quick Step rider again demonstrated why he is the top-ranked male road rider in the world, bursting clear and then stretching his lead on the descent into Epernay.

“I didn’t plan to go solo,” he said. “I’m speechless. I knew this stage suited me – I felt good so I accelerated in the Mutigny climb but I didn’t think I’d go alone.

“I gave everything. It’s difficult to meet the expectations being the favourite – I made it, I’m delighted.”

Belgium’s Lotto-Soudal rider Tim Wellens claimed the polka-dot King of the Mountains jersey after being part of a five-man breakaway early on and then soloing clear to crest each of the four categorised climbs first.

However, he was swallowed up by Alaphilippe’s explosive burst, as the 2018 King of the Mountains winner collected his third ever stage victory at the Tour to become the first Frenchman to lead the race since Tony Gallopin in 2014.

Stage three result

1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra/Deceuninck-Quick Step) 4hrs 40mins 29secs

2. Michael Matthews (Aus/Sunweb) +26secs

3. Jasper Stuyven (Bel/Trek-Segafredo) Same time

4. Greg van Avermaet (Bel/CCC)

5. Peter Sagan (Slo/Bora-Hansgrohe)

6. Matteo Trentin (Ita/Mitchelton-Scott)

7. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita/Bahrain Merida)

8. Xandro Meurisse (Bel/Wandy-Groupe Gobert)

9. Wout van Aert (Bel/Jumbo-Visma)

10. Thibaut Pinot (Fra/Groupama-FDJ)

Selected others

13. Geraint Thomas (GB/Ineos) +31secs

17. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned/Jumbo-Visma) Same time

23. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Bahrain Merida)

25. Adam Yates (GB/Mitchelton-Scott)

35. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar)

General classification after stage three

1. Julian Alaphilippe (Fra/Deceuninck-Quick Step) 9hrs 32mins 19secs

2. Wout van Aert (Bel/Jumbo-Visma) +20secs

3. Steven Kruijswijk (Ned/Jumbo-Visma) +25secs

4. George Bennett (NZ/Jumbo-Visma) Same time

5. Michael Matthews (Aus/Sunweb) +40secs

6. Egan Bernal (Col/Ineos) Same time

7. Geraint Thomas (GB/Ineos) +45secs

8. Enric Mas (Spa/Deceuninck-Quick Step) +46secs

9. Greg van Avermaet (Bel/CCC) +51secs

10. Wilco Kelderman (Ned/Sunweb) Same time

Selected others

12. Thibaut Pinot (Fra/Groupama-FDJ) +52secs

21. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita/Bahrain Merida) +1min 01secs

22. Adam Yates (GB/Mitchelton-Scott) +1min 06secs

41. Nairo Quintana (Col/Movistar) +1min 30 secs

48. Richie Porte (Aus/Trek-Segafredo) +1min 43secs

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/48913507

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