The Frenchman did the time trial of his life in Folsom and will go into the week-end with a 16-second advantage over the next rider.
Starting the day in the yellow jersey he was wearing since smashing the opposition on Gibraltar Road on stage 3, Julian Alaphilippe was the last to roll down the ramp for the 20.3-km individual time trial which was expected to play a major role at this year's Tour of California. Motivated and focused to keep his first place in the general classification, the 23-year-old gave it his all on the flat roads in and out of Folsom, and showed that he's in for a big result long before the finish, at the intermediate check point, where he was just 22 seconds down on Rohan Dennis (BMC), who passed through there earlier, setting the fastest time.
In the second part of the stage, Julian continued to scorch the parcours and fight hard in order to not concede too much to the specialists of this discipline, who were all within a minute of him in the overall standings. Rising out of the saddle from time to time and pushing a high cadence, Alaphilippe rolled over the line in 25:01, which was enough for an impressive eight place, just 45 seconds off the same Dennis, who won the stage ahead of Andrew Talansky (Cannondale) and Taylor Phinney (BMC).
Having kept the yellow jersey at the end of the day, Julian will line up for Saturday's stage (Santa Rosa – Santa Rosa, 175.5 kilometers) with a 16-second margin over Rohan Dennis and more than half a minute on the Australian's teammate, Brent Bookwalter. Although the gaps aren't big and the stage will include some difficult climbs, the Tour of California leader looks towards the penultimate day with confidence, especially after his strong showing in the ITT.
"Today it was very important to do a good job. The course didn't suit me, as it had big flat roads and some heavy wind, but I really wanted to put in a big effort so I could defend my yellow jersey. It wasn't easy, but I rode full gas those 20 kilometers and now I'm still first in the rankings, which is great. Concerning tomorrow, I am optimistic, because we have a solid team here, ready to fight and help me retain the jersey", said Julian, who is just two days away from becoming the youngest winner in the history of the race.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele