Tour de France 2019: Julian Alaphilippe tightens grip on yellow jersey with surprise time-trial win

Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe said he surprised himself as he took a second stage win of the 2019 Tour de France to increase his lead.

Julian Alaphilippe was 14 seconds quicker than nearest rival Geraint Thomas of Team INEOS.   -  Reuters

Julian Alaphilippe fittingly marked the 100th anniversary of the yellow jersey Friday by increasing his Tour de France lead with a magnificent individual time-trial stage win in Pau.

Defending champion Geraint Thomas was fancied to take over as leader of the general classification on Friday, but Alaphilippe made another statement by securing his second stage win of the race with a blistering ride over the 17-mile course.

The Frenchman was 14 seconds quicker than nearest rival Thomas on a hot day in his homeland and leads the Team INEOS rider by a minute and 26 seconds after stage 13.

Deceuninck-Quick Step's Alaphilippe, roared on by a partisan crowd, was quicker than Thomas after every split and had enough in the tank to storm up a final climb for another victory.

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"It's incredible. I'm really happy," Alaphilippe said. "Without being pretentious, I knew I could do a good performance on such a course, I told my cousin Franck this morning that I'd do something good but I didn't think I could win the stage, especially with such a big gap against Geraint Thomas.

"The first part suited me but I surprised myself in the second part of the race. I pushed my limits. With the help of the public, I gave everything until the line. I heard that even in my team car they all cried."

Steven Kruijswijk and Enric Mas moved above Thomas' teammate Egan Bernal into third and fourth place respectively in the general classification standings, with 2:12 and 2:44 to make up on Alaphilippe.

Wout van Aert had to abandon the race four days after winning stage 10, the Belgian taken to the hospital after crashing when he appeared to get his handlebars caught on advertising signage draped over barriers at a right turn.

Team Jumbo-Visma revealed the 24-year-old suffered a flesh wound to his right leg, bringing a premature end to his race.

Rohan Dennis had been well fancied to win the time trial, but the Team Bahrain Merida rider mysteriously pulled out during the 12th stage, offering no explanation but stating that he had made the right decision.

WHAT NEXT?

The climbers should be licking their lips at the prospect of a 73-mile mountainous stage from Tarbes to Tourmalet Bareges in the Pyrenees on Saturday, with a first high-altitude finish of this year's race.

TOUR DE FRANCE STAGE 13 RESULTS

1. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) 0:35.00
2. Geraint Thomas (INEOS) +0:14
3. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) +0:36
4. Rigoberto Uran (EF Education First) +0:36
5. Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) +0:45

TOUR DE FRANCE STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick Step) 53:01:09
2. Geraint Thomas (INEOS) +1:26
3. Steven Kruijswijk (Team Jumbo-Visma ) +2:12

Points Classification

1. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 277
2. Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) 191
2. Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-Quick Step) 184

King of the Mountains

1. Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) 54
2. Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal) 37
3. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) 30