The 27-year-old Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider will go into the first rest day with the yellow jersey firmly on his shoulders.
The predicted echelons for stage 10 of the Tour de France didn’t fail to materialise, the strong crosswinds of the Tarn department blighting stage 10 inside the final 40 kilometers and splitting the peloton into several groups, many general classification riders being caught out the back when the mayhem started and the peloton got decimated.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step bossed the savage crosswinds en route to Albi, a stage finish for the first time in six years, none other than maillot jaune Julian Alaphilippe taking over the reins and pressing on to extend the advantage of the reduced bunch over the overall contenders shelled out from the main group. Yves Lampaert and Kasper Asgreen also chipped in, and joined by delegates from other teams, kept the pace up and nudged out the gap to one minute by the time they passed under the 10km-to-go banner.
It all came down to a sprint on an uphill drag, and Argentinean Champion Maximiliano Richeze expertly moved through the field with Elia Viviani tucked on his wheel, from where the Italian kicked out with 200 meters remaining. Already a stage winner at this edition, Elia put in a strong acceleration, but was narrowly beaten by Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and finished second for his 15th podium of the season.
Despite not getting the victory in Albi, there were plenty of reasons to smile for the Wolfpack, as Julian Alaphilippe reinforced his position at the top of the standings by extending his buffer to more than one minute over his closest opponent, while race debutant Enric Mas enjoyed a surge up the classification and now lies in sixth place.
“The crosswinds made everything really nervous, but we knew we had to stay alert and did a great job together. The entire team was at the front and went full gas to try to win the stage with Elia. We didn’t take the victory, but we rode like a great squad today and we can be proud of that”, Julian Alaphilippe explained at the end of the stage which netted his sixth maillot jaune. “On the other hand, I kept my lead in the classification and Enric moved up several places, so we can be pretty satisfied with the outcome. It was an interesting, action-packed stage, but now I’m glad we’ll finally have a rest day.”
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