Top 10 on the 175.5km stage 5, Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s rider remained at the top of the general classification.
Julian Alaphilippe came home safely on the first day in the Vosges – which took the peloton over four classified climbs – and will get to sport the maillot jaune for the third consecutive day, on Thursday’s tough stage 6 from Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles.
Right from the gun, it poured with attacks, many riders being keen on making it into the break in the hope it would go all the way, but the bunch reacted to every single move in the first 20 kilometers, before finally allowing a four-man group to extricate themselves and establish a two-minute lead.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step were one of the teams controlling the gap with the likes of Yves Lampaert and Michael Mørkøv, who led the peloton at cruise speed over the undulating roads to Heiligenstein, where Max Richeze launched stage 4 winner Elia Viviani, who bagged in important points at the intermediate sprint and made inroads in the green jersey standings.
On Côte des Cinq Châteaux, Kasper Asgreen forced the pace and peeled back more than half a minute from the break’s advantage, before other squads chipped in and reabsorbed the last men up the road before summiting the climb. Resplendent in his yellow jersey, Alaphilippe led the way on the descent and remained at all times well-positioned in the pack, which negotiated the sinuous downhill at slow speed before nullifying with ease a late attack.
In Colmar, the charming Alsatian town which made its first appearance at the race in a decade, Julian took tenth place on the stage won by Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) and maintained the leadership at the 106th Tour de France, becoming the first home rider in nine years to sport the yellow jersey for three consecutive days.
“It wasn’t easy, but the guys rode for me and I tried to stay in the front, always in a good position. I’m glad that I could safely conclude this stage and get to pull on the maillot jaune for another day. Having it on my shoulders is something really special, it’s difficult to describe it, but what I can say is that it’s an amazing emotion that I will never forget. To hear so many people cheering for me and chanting my name is unbelievable, and regardless of what will happen on the next stage, this is something that I will forever carry in my mind and heart”, a visibly emotional Julian explained at the end of stage 5.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images