Alaphilippe secures Tour de France polka dot jersey
After claiming the honors atop Aspin and Tourmalet, the 26-year-old mathematically clinched the KOM classification.
Julian Alaphilippe rode into the history books, as he became the first rider to win four HC climbs at an edition of the Tour de France since the inception of this category, in 1979: Glières, Bisanne, Madeleine and Tourmalet. The latest notch on his belt was achieved on Friday afternoon, when the double stage winner infiltrated in a large breakaway group together with teammate Bob Jungels after a frantic start, claimed maximum points on Col d'Aspin and then went on to show his panache by passing first over the top of Col du Tourmalet, as he was setting the pace for the Luxembourg Champion.
At 17.1 kilometers in length and averaging 7.3%, this former shepherd track turned mythical ascent has shaped the Grande Boucle over the years, towering over all the other climbs in the Pyrenees and becoming one of the race's darlings, as it was used no less than 82 times since its debut in 1910, when Octave Lapize was the first to crest its summit during a mammoth 326km-long stage.
"Coming into the Tour de France, my only goal was to get a stage victory, which was something I was dreaming of for some years now; the KOM jersey wasn't a priority at that time, but after landing it on my shoulders following the success in Le Grand-Bornand, I began thinking of taking it home. That's why today, when I led the breakaway group over the top of Tourmalet, which is such a legendary and revered climb, I was so happy. It's been a really hard and tiring race, but I am extremely satisfied with what I accomplished together with my team and am now looking forward to arriving in Paris after tomorrow's ITT", a beaming Julian said after the last mountain showdown of this edition.
Undoubtedly one of the stars of the Tour de France, Alaphilippe didn't end his day after taking home the prestigious Souvenir Jacques Goddet, but continued with the same perseverance to pull at the front of the group on the long descent to the penultimate ascent of the stage, giving his all to help Bob Jungels, who had a plan of his own at the start. The Liège–Bastogne–Liège champion was one of the standout riders of the day, showing guts as he attacked early to make it into the break and going all-in for a brave and intelligent last roll of the dice in an attempt to jump in the general classification.
Jungels' determination and valiant effort saw him stay in the front even after the day-long move got caught by the select yellow jersey group, until with 1500 meters left of the Hors Catégorie Col d'Aubisque, the final climb of the Tour de France. Instrumental in Quick-Step Floors' success at the second Grand Tour of the season, the 25-year-old rode one of his best ever mountain stages, undeterred by its toughness, six classified ascents, 5000 meters of elevation and the lead that kept pouring in the legs with every pedal stroke after three demanding weeks, and was repaid handsomely at the finish in Laruns, where he gained two places in the overall standings.
With just one testing stage left on the menu – a hilly individual time trial in the French Basque Country – Bob is 11th, a position that if he were to clinch in Paris would be the best of Luxembourg at the Tour de France in the last seven years.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images