Vuelta al Pais Vasco: Alaphilippe retains yellow ahead of ITT
Julian increased his advantage in the points jersey classification after finishing in the top 10 in Valdegovia.
The longest stage of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco was also the most nervous of the race, with a strong breakaway group jumping clear early and building a seven-minute advantage over the first two categorized climbs of the day, Errigoiti and Aretxabaigane, before the peloton eventually decided to up the tempo and start the chase. Inside the last 30 kilometers, the gap came down to two minutes, but a double-pronged attack of Team Sky duo David De La Cruz and Michal Kwiatkowski allowed the move to continue well into the business end of the stage.
With five kilometers to go, the race came back together, thanks also to a strong and concerted effort of Quick-Step Floors, and in the hectic bunch gallop that unfolded, it was Jay McCarthy (Bora-hansgrohe) who prevailed, ahead of Alexandr Riabushenko (UAE Team Emirates).
A double stage winner at this edition, Julian Alaphilippe got in the mix and sprinted to sixth place, adding more points to his tally in the points jersey standings. In the overall classification, he continues to lead Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) by eight seconds going into the 19.4km-long individual time trial around Lodosa, a small town located along the Ebro river. Teammate Enric Mas sits in ninth place, as he retained the blue jersey, which rewards the best youngster in the race.
"It wasn't an easy stage, but quite stressful and fast, because many teams wanted to take the win and as consequence rode full gas. Our plan was to protect the yellow jersey, so we gave a hand to control the breakaway. With the help of my incredible teammates, I kept the lead in the GC for the third day in a row, which is great. I will do my best tomorrow in the ITT, but it will be difficult against riders who have the upper hand in this discipline and on a flat parcours that doesn't favour me", said Julian, the first Frenchman in 19 years to lead Pais Vasco for three consecutive days.
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