Alaphilippe moves close to overall podium in Guangxi
With two stages to go, the 25-year-old Frenchman leads the youth standings at the World Tour race.
Julian Alaphilippe climbed to fourth place in the general classification of the Tour of Guangxi, which on Sunday took the peloton to Mashan Nongla, the site of the race's queen-stage, that finished on a 3km-long ascent averaging 7.7%. The attacks started to pour in on the first ramps of the hill – after the early four-man breakaway was nullified thanks to the combined efforts of several riders, including Pieter Serry – and Julian was among those to ride clear of the bunch.
About 1500 meters from the line, Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) accelerated, opened a small gap and soloed to victory, a handful of seconds ahead of Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Nicolas Roche (BMC), taking also the leader's jersey. Julian – a stage winner this year at Paris-Nice and Vuelta a España – climbed strongly on the punchy finish and concluded the hard stage four outside the podium for a mere two seconds.
"I wanted to win today, but despite coming off short, I am not disappointed, because I gave everything and fourth is still a good result. I am proud of how the team worked today, the guys chased down the breakaway and made sure I was in the best position for the final. I want to thank them, and especially Rémi, who pulled hard in the closing kilometers, showing his quality and good legs", said Julian Alaphilippe, who now lies in fourth place, 13 seconds behind the new leader.
Fernando Gaviria – the only rider to have won at least three stages at two different World Tour events this season (Giro d'Italia and Tour of Guangxi) – continues to rest at the top of the points classification and is in pole position to take home the blue jersey at the inaugural edition of the Chinese race, having an 11-point advantage over the next rider in the standings with two stages remaining.
The penultimate day of the Tour of Guangxi will take place between Liuzhou and Guilin, and at 212.2 kilometers will be the longest of this edition. The profile is a lumpy one, and could see the attackers play a prominent role in the final, but the winner could very well emerge also from a bunch gallop.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele