Our rider became the first Frenchman in three decades to win a stage clad in the yellow jersey.
Julian Alaphilippe retained his amazing power to astonish and notched up a monumental individual time trial victory in Pau, which hosted a stage against the clock for just the third time in the history of the Grande Boucle, after 1939 and 1981.
“It’s incredible, I can’t tell you how happy I am! I knew I could do a good ride on this course, but I didn’t think I could win. The first part suited me and so I rode full gas, but I surprised myself in the second part. I pushed my limits and with the help of the public I gave everything until the line. I can’t believe it”, an over the moon Julian told the media after celebrating his 12th victory of the season with the team and strengthening his grip on the race lead.
Last rider down the ramp in Pau, one of the most visited towns in Tour de France history, Alaphilippe enjoyed a flying start and sailed across the first hilly section of the stage, setting the fastest result at the Cériset checkpoint. A man on a mission, the yellow jersey continued to blitz the tough and technical course and have best the reference time at the next two splits, arriving at the finish in a superb time of 35 minutes, which ensured not just another win, but also a ninth day at the top of the standings.
His second stage victory at this year’s Tour de France helped Julian extend his buffer in the GC to nearly one minute and a half ahead of Saturday’s stage to Tourmalet, one of the most iconic climbs in cycling. Despite this, the 27-year-old Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider – first Frenchman in almost two decades to triumph in a time trial at the Grande Boucle – although nothing short of effusive, reiterated that the general classification isn’t a goal for him.
“I am happy that I am still in yellow! Every day is a bonus and to wear this legendary jersey on its 100th birthday is fantastic! I knew the course and was focused on myself and on what I had to do today, while being supported by this superb crowds. I came very motivated to the start, but I never imagined that I could win here”, Julian explained at the press conference. “Now the plan is to take it day after day and see how things go. On Saturday we have a very hard summit finish on the Tourmalet and I will give it my all to stay in the main group for as long as possible, but I want to stress out that our GC rider remains Enric, who did a great time trial today, for which I congratulate him.”
Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s perfect day in Pau was rounded out by Tour de France debutants Kasper Asgreen and Enric Mas, both top 10 finishers in the stage on the back of a truly impressive ride against the clock. In addition to that, 24-year-old Enric moved up to fourth overall and into the prestigious yellow jersey, becoming the first Spaniard since 2007 to lead the best young rider standings.
“This result makes me very happy! It’s special to have the white jersey, which I will try to defend for as long as possible, and be up there in the general classification, but my objective hasn’t changed: I want to be in the top 10 in Paris. It’s just beautiful to have both yellow and white on the team and we hope to continue enjoying many more spectacular moments”, Mas said after Friday’s stage.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images