Alaphilippe sprints to 4th in Criterium du Dauphiné
The result of the Frenchman came at the end of a day which saw both Niki Terpstra and Tony Martin go on the attack.
Minutes after the start of Criterium du Dauphiné stage 3 was given, three riders attacked out of the bunch: Niki Terpstra, Dimitry Claeys (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Thomas De Gendt (Lotto-Soudal). Despite LottoNL-Jumbo and Tinkoff setting a hard pace in the peloton, the trio broke the one-minute barrier and from that moment on continued to increase its gap to more than six minutes. Inside the final 100 kilometers, Cofidis and Katusha moved to the front and helped also by the tailwind, began to take back time.
Of the three at the front, Niki was the only one who got to taste a stage win at the French race, in 2009, when he scored his maiden World Tour victory. The Dutch champion, winner of Le Samyn this season, powered on the rolling terrain to Tournon-sur-Rhône, helping the escape – which was joined by Cyril Gautier (AG2R) and Perrig Quemeneur (Direct Energie) after Côte de Montfaucon-en-Velay – to stay clear until the foot of the day's final categorized climb, Côte de Sécheras.
On the 2.9-km long ascent which averaged 8.9%, Tony Martin attacked and quickly put 20 seconds between him and the peloton, cresting first Côte de Sécheras. On the fast downhill, the 31-year-old German was caught by an 8-man group from which Fabio Aru (Astana) attacked and went solo to the finish, helped also by a crash that slowed down the chasers, Tony being among those involved. The bunch rolled over the line two seconds later, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Niccolo Bonifazio (Trek-Segafredo) rounding out the podium.
Fourth in the general classification, less than half a minute behind race leader Alberto Contador (Tinkoff), white jersey Julian Alaphilippe took advantage of both the selective finale and his sprinting skills to notch a fourth place, his best ever result in the Criterium du Dauphiné, and his 10th top 10 placing of the season: "It was a good day for us, during which we were active right from the start, with Niki, who jumped in the escape. We were aware that the last part – with the hard climb and the tricky descent – was complicated, so that's why we stayed in the front row of the pack. Unfortunately, Tony crashed on the downhill, otherwise he would have been there to help us with the chase. I wanted some bonus seconds, so I got involved in the sprint, but missed on taking the bonifications. Despite this, I'm satisfied with my result and I look forward to the next stages."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele