Critérium du Dauphiné: Alaphilippe takes second in hectic sprint
The Frenchman moved to fifth in the general classification, behind teammate Bob Jungels.
In just his second day of racing after a five-week break, which included a well-deserved rest after a strong Ardennes campaign and an altitude training camp, Julian Alaphilippe showed he's on track for the Tour de France, with a solid all-round display on the first road stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné.
Stage 1 of the French World Tour race got ignited on the second ascent of the fourth-category Côte du Barrage de Grangent, where several teams picked up the pace before Dylan Teuns (BMC) moved first with an attack which was closed by Alaphilippe, whose acceleration drew a four more men from the peloton in a select group that also included teammate Bob Jungels. The Luxembourg Champion was the one driving the pace behind, keeping things together as a couple of riders tried to get clear on the descent.
Eventually, it came down to a sprint, albeit one from a reduced bunch, and Julian Alaphilippe took second behind Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott), grabbing important bonus seconds which helped elevated him eleven places in the overall standings, just a handful of seconds from the yellow jersey.
For Alaphilippe, this was the eighth podium of the season, and the 25-year-old talked us through the stage which saw Quick-Step Floors control the breakaway with the likes of James Knox, Pieter Serry and Niki Terpstra, who took the head of proceedings early on the day and made sure the three-man breakaway didn't go all the way in Saint-Just-Saint-Rambert.
"Today's plan was to work for Fabio and the team did a great job protecting him during the stage. We knew the race would become hard on the final circuit, so that's why I remained attentive and when Teuns went I decided to close the gap, as I heard in the radio that Fabio got dropped."
"The sprint was a crazy one, because you had climbers, GC riders and puncheurs all going for a good result. I would have preferred to win, but I'm not disappointed, because the feelings I have are good and this result feeds my confidence for the next stages", concluded Julian after his second podium at the Dauphiné.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images