Julian Alaphilippe celebrated the 100 years of the yellow jersey in the best possible way by retaining the lead at the end of a time trial he dominated in Pau. First at all intermediate check points, he increased his advantage over defending champion Geraint Thomas by fourteen seconds.
“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”, Alaphilippe told the media after celebrating his 12th victory of the season 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. 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 a ninth day at the top of the standings.
His second stage victory at this year’s Tour de France helped Alaphilippe extend his lead 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 – 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”, Alaphilippe 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.”