At the start of stage four, Julian Alaphilippe had his eye on a second stage win while Adam Yates would have been dreaming of taking the yellow jersey off the Frenchman’s shoulders at the 2020 Tour de France, yet both came away empty-handed.
Both were stung by the pace of the yellow worker bees of the Jumbo-Visma squad, who set an infernal pace up the climb to the summit finish in order to thwart any attacks, setting things up for Primož Roglič to sprint to victory and gain valuable bonus seconds on GC.
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The Slovenian announced his form while Egan Bernal and Ineos looked less assured than in previous French Grand Tours. Roglič’s performance puts Alaphilippe and his race lead on notice, another fortnight in yellow doesn’t seem as likely this year, at least on today’s evidence.
“I had the double goal to keep the yellow jersey and win the stage, I’m satisfied I’m still in yellow,” Alaphilippe concluded after the finish. “I was close to winning but I was beaten by someone stronger.”
After his Deceuninck – Quick-Step team-mate Bob Jungels pulled off and handed over to Jumbo-Visma, Alaphilippe was just focused on hanging in there.
“When Bob finished his work I was at my maximum effort and Jumbo-Visma were setting a very high pace,” Alaphilippe said. “I looked behind me a couple of times to see if anyone was going to attack but the rhythm was very high so I just tried to maintain my position to the finish line.
“Today I saw that it’s difficult to follow the rhythm of Jumbo-Visma but my plan doesn’t change anyway. I have enormous pride to still be in the yellow jersey.”
As for Adam Yates, crossing the line first would have given him a maiden Tour stage victory as well as the yellow jersey by virtue of the bonus points on offer. The Brit also found the high pace neutered any chance of attacking but was happy with his top 10 finish, which maintains his second place on GC, four seconds behind Alaphilippe.
“It was a hard day in general, all the climbs were ridden at a hard pace. And then in the last 2km the pace was really on so it would have been tricky to try something,” the Mitchelton-Scott rider said.
“In the end, I finished in the top 10. Not a perfect day but all-in-all we can be satisfied.”