A flat just as the peloton got battered by crosswinds and broken into echelons left the Frenchman trailing on the hectic stage 2.
Crosswinds, crashes, mechanicals and big gaps – it was another crazy day of racing at the “Race to the Sun”, one that unfortunately saw Julian Alaphilippe bleed time in the general classification, just twenty-four hours after putting on an aggressive display that cemented his status as one of the race’s favourites.
The nervous peloton remained alert at all times and even made sure of bringing back the breakaway with more than 60 kilometers to go, knowing the last part of the stage could hold some unwanted surprises. Deceuninck – Quick-Step were prominent at the front, always having a strong contingent in the first twenty positions, but when bad luck struck, there was nothing that our team could do, just fight hard to limit the losses.
The incident in cause occurred with 30 kilometers to go, when Julian Alaphilippe punctured and lost contact with the bunch which fragmented to pieces at that very moment, due to the strong crosswinds that then accompanied the riders until the finish. The Wolfpack rallied around the green jersey wearer, the likes of Kasper Asgreen, Sam Bennett, Yves Lampaert and Michael Mørkøv trading long turns in that echelon. A mad pursuit ensued and our riders emptied themselves in order to reduce the gap to the front group, from where Giacomo Nizzolo (NTT Pro Cycling) sprinted to victory.
This cohesive all-out effort thrown in by the Deceuninck – Quick-Step boys meant that Alaphilippe lost just 1:25 by the time he came over the finish line in Chalette-sur-Loing, and although he is out of the top 10 overall, with five stages to go (including an ITT and two days in the mountains) he still holds an important chance of edging his way back in the general classification.
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