Julian Alaphilipe retains the yellow jersey
Yves Lampaert and Zdenek Stybar finish in the top 3 on the third day of the Tour de Slovaquie.
With seven ranked climbs peppering the route between Ruzomberok and Dubnica nad Vahom, some fast descents and a finish on a stadium, a venue which more than half of century ago used to be extremely popular in cycling, stage 2 promised a spectacular showdown between the favourites for the general classification, which was topped by Julian Alaphilippe following his victory in the ski station of Strbske Preso.
Quick-Step Floors controlled the first part of the stage before several riders joined hands and tried put the yellow jersey under pressure, attacking him on the fourth categorized ascent. The group, which included also second-placed Jan Tratnik (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), put half a minute between them and Julian, who needed just a few pedal strokes to bridge across as they approached the summit of the climb.
On the descent, a regrouping took place and Alaphilippe was again escorted by his teammates, who kept the pace high in order to prevent other riders from jumping off the front. The finish on the local stadium in Dubnica nad Vahom, the town located on the Vah rider, was more complicated than it looked on paper, with a crash splitting the field before entering the Mestsky arena.
The track looked to take many riders by surprise, but not the strong Quick-Step Floors contingent, who pushed hard and created a gap, before getting involved in the fight for the victory. Belgian Champion Yves Lampaert and Zdenek Stybar concluded second and third respectively, behind Rudiger Selig (Bora-hansgrohe), while Julian – who took hold also of the points jersey after his fifth place – increased his buffer in the overall standings and finds himself 16 seconds clear of his nearest rival.
Photo credit: ©Jan Melicher - jmphoto.sk