In the break since the start of the day, the 28-year-old Frenchman rode to the top 3 on Saturday’s tough mountain stage.
Julian Alaphilippe remained true to his word and attacked on the penultimate stage of the Criterium du Dauphiné, which took the peloton from Ugine to Megève over a relentless 157km course that delivered plenty of action and drama, as many of the general classification contenders said goodbye to their aspirations following a crash that occurred mid-stage.
After some 30 kilometers of action, a large breakaway group formed and Alaphilippe was there for Deceuninck – Quick-Step. On the first climb, Col de Plan Bois, the 17 men padded out their lead to six minutes, which put them in the driving seat for the stage victory, but the race began tilting back towards the yellow jersey group on the Montée de Bisanne (12.4, 8.2%).
One of the four HC climbs conquered by Alaphilippe on his way to the Tour de France polka-dot jersey two years ago, Bisanne shaved off more than three minutes of the leader’s margin, whose chances of making it to the Megève altiport looked slimmer by the kilometer. Julian was the one to raise the pace and force a selection midway through the climb, only four riders being able to respond to this acceleration which took their advantage back to over two minutes.
In the meantime, the chasers’ group was reduced to just a handful of riders, but on the long descent it swelled back to twenty riders. Despite having the numbers, they didn’t manage to claw back any more time, and with ten kilometers to go it became clear the victory will play out between those at the front. Eventually, after several skirmishes, Lennard Kamna (Bora-hansgrohe) escaped and took a solo win, ahead of David De La Cruz (UAE Team Emirates) and Julian Alaphilippe, who claimed his third podium of the season.
“I was really motivated today to get the victory and my team helped me get in the break, where we all worked well until the final ascent, but there some guys were just stronger. The day was difficult and the finale very tactical, but I can be happy with the sensations I had and with the fact I’m improving day by day”, Julian said at the end of the stage.
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