Simon Yates says he believes Julian Alaphilippe is going to hold the maillot jaune all the way to Paris.
The Mitchelton-Scott rider, supporting his twin brother Adam at this year’s Tour de France, said he has thought Alaphilippe could win since his stage six ride on La Planche des Belles Filles.
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Frenchman Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) has emerged as the shock favourite to win the Tour, having extended his advantage in both the time trial and the first high-mountain finish at the summit of the Tourmalet on stage 14.
Simon, a stage winner at the Tour de France 2019, said: “I think [Alaphilippe] is going to win if I’m honest. I’ve been saying that to a few of the other guys since stage six. I think he’s got the goods to win.”
But Alaphilippe, unproven as a Grand Tour contender, still has to survive mountainous terrain that doesn’t suit his usual punchy climbing and sprinting style, so heartbreak could be swift.
Simon Yates is no stranger to dramatic collapse in a three-week race, after he dominated 2017 Giro d’Italia, holding the pink jersey for almost two weeks and winning three stages, before he lost 38 minutes on the penultimate mountain stage.
When asked if Alaphilippe risks a similar implosion, Yates said: “He’s a great rider. You’ll have to ask him how he’s feeling now and what his team can do for him.”
Adam Yates’s general classification dreams took another hit on stage 14, as the Brit cracked on the Tourmalet and lost 6-42 to the overall favourites.
After slipping overall back in the time trial, Adam then found himself fighting to stay in contact on the penultimate climb of stage 14, before finally being dropped for good on the Tourmalet.
He now sits in 18th on general classification, 10-37 down on Alaphilippe.
Simon added: “He took a big knock yesterday. He’s a very long way down now.
“Sometimes you’re the nail and sometimes you’re the hammer, as the saying goes. He’ll bounce back I’m sure.”