The Frenchman moves up to fourth in the GC after finishing runner-up on day three of the Tour Colombia.
Winner of a stage on Alto Boqueron last year at the inaugural edition of the South American race, Julian Alaphilippe was in the mix for another victory, this time in Llanogrande, where stage 3 – which included a short but tough climb many local riders knew from the National Championships a couple of years ago – concluded after 167.6 intense kilometers.
The pace was fierce from the very putset, with six strong riders making it into the breakaway and prompting a swift response from the Deceuninck – Quick-Step-led peloton, who reeled them in before the first intermediate sprint of the day, won by general classification leader and stage 2 victor Alvaro Hodeg. Shortly, a four-man move got away and was allowed by the bunch to go three minutes clear, an advantage which began to melt as soon as the chasers decided to push the pedal to the metal.
Another consequence was Alvaro being dropped on Alto Nano, but our team wasn’t short of options, and immediately rallied around Julian Alaphilippe, who moved near the front of the bunch and stayed attentive as more and more riders tried to jump away from the pack, hoping to give the others the slip. Not even after the escapees got reabsorbed did things calm down, a flurry of attacks stretching out the field and making it really tough in the closing kilometers.
Under the red kite, Luxembourg Champion Bob Jungels took the front of the peloton and put in a mammoth turn for Alaphilippe, who stayed tucked on his wheel, waiting for the last 100 meters to make a move. Despite a solid acceleration, the 26-year-old was outgunned by Juan Sebastian Molano (UAE Team Emirates), the only sprinter to have made the cut on the climb.
“I was in a good position inside the final kilometer thanks to Bob, who worked hard and did a top job to protect and bring me there, but the stage was very hard and I could feel that in my legs at the end. Despite coming second, we do not have any regrets, because I know that Molano is really fast. We tried and we’ll try again tomorrow, the race is far from being over”, said Julian Alaphilippe, the only non-South American rider to conclude in the top 10 on Thursday, after picking up six seconds and climbing to fourth overall.
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