‘You can’t get away with it just because you’re in yellow’: Cycling Weekly readers react as Julian Alaphilippe loses race lead due to time penalty 

The French star lost the yellow jersey to Adam Yates after being punished by commissaires  

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Julian Alaphilippe is no longer in yellow after he was handed a time penalty after stage five of the Tour de France.

Following a calm day of racing in France, things took a sudden turn after the riders had crossed the finish line in Privas when news emerged that Alaphilippe would lose his race lead to Mitchelton-Scott's Adam Yates.  

Deceuninck - Quick-Step rider Alaphilippe was handed a 20-second time penalty after he took a bottle from a team helper at the roadside in the final 20km of the fairly uneventful stage.

Alaphilippe has now slipped back to 16th place in the general classification, but did he deserve the punishment? 

Cycling Weekly has asked readers to give their thoughts on the dramatic turn of events on stage five of the Tour. 

Conor, 18, from Eastbourne said: “Rules are rules, even if it’s an accident,  can’t get away just because you’re in yellow.” 

He added that if Alaphilippe had only been given a financial penalty, more people would be tempted into breaking the rules.  

David, 29, from London, said: “It's an established rule that surely everybody knows about. Having soigneurs stand anywhere in the last 20km would be pretty dangerous given it would mean riders moving across the peloton as everyone is fighting for position and setting up sprint trains.”

Paul Nixon, 58 from Tynemouth, said: “It’s the rules, simple, therefore he deserved it. Whether the rule is correct is another point.” 

According to the Tour organisers, the commissaires made the decision to punish Alaphilippe after he made an “unauthorised supply pick-up.”

Video footage has since emerged of Alaphilippe taking a bottle from team staff with around 17km of the stage left to race.

UCI rules state that all feeding outside the feed zones, either from a car or on foot, is strictly forbidden inside the first 30km of a stage and inside the last 20km.

He was also fined 200CHF (£165).

But not everyone agrees that the punishment was fair on Alaphilippe. 

Yoel from Johannesburg in South Africa said: “For the sake of the sport, he should have only been fined. Not good to take away the lead of Alaphillipe in this manner. It serves no one but indeed hurts the competitive nature of the sport itself. Even it could badly affect Yates and his plans.”

He added: “Not good for Yates. This is an imposition. Better to suspend it and carry out stage 6 without a leader. Yates will never like to have it this way. Plus, psychologically, it has got the potential to affect Yates and his plans in a rather negative ways.”

David, 47, living in the French Alps, said: “Did he ‘deserve‘ his time penalty?  No. Did he have to be given it? Yes. It’s a rule, bizarre though it is, that is well known across the peloton, the teams, the sports directors  and the soigneurs. It might have been an innocent mistake, through miscommunication or bad map reading, but it was a contravention nonetheless, despite clearly not affecting the race. 

“If the commissaires had let this slide, then where does it stop?” 

>>> Tour de France riders explain why yesterday’s stage five was so boring 

The decision to remove a Frenchman from the race lead in the Tour de France would not be a small one for the commissaires, but Adam Yates instead finds himself in the race lead having only intended to race for stages this year. 

But how long can the Brit defend with another uphill finish on the way on day six?

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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.