Alaphilippe holds off Hirschi to take thrilling Tour stage two win

AFP

Julian Alaphilippe moved into the yellow jersey in the Tour de France after claiming victory in the second stage by edging Marc Hirschi in a dramatic finish.

Frenchman Alaphilippe held the race leader's jersey for 14 stages last year and the man regarded by many as the best cyclist on the planet was rewarded on this occasion for an attack on the final climb.

After the initial breakaway was caught with 40 kilometres left of the 186km ride to the finish in Nice, it was Alaphilippe who made a push for the front with 12km to go.

That move on the Col des Quatre Chemins looked to be an early one but it proved to be timed to perfection.

Hirschi (Team Sunweb) and Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) went with the Deceuninck–Quick-Step rider, setting the stage for a thrilling sprint to the line in the final kilometre with the chasing pack closing fast.

Alaphilippe made the final push with around 400 metres to go and, although Swiss rider Hirschi responded brilliantly, he did not have enough to overtake before the finish.

The winner of the King of the Mountains classification in 2018, Alaphilippe was in tears after crossing the line and dedicated the victory to his father, who passed away in June.

Alaphilippe takes the yellow jersey and holds a four-second advantage over Yates in the General Classification, Hirschi is three seconds further back.

Alexander Kristoff, who won a chaotic opening stage on Saturday, was over 28 minutes off the pace as he surrendered the yellow jersey.


YATES SATISFIED DESPITE SPRINT FAILINGS

Yates does not possess the same sprinting ability as Alaphilippe and Hirschi and, recognising his deficiency in that area, expressed satisfaction with his performance.

He told ITV: "Maybe if there was another climb or something, but, in a sprint with them two, on this kind of finish, I was always going to end up second or third. All in all it was a good day."

STAGE RESULT

1. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 4:55:27
2. Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb)
3. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) +0:01
4. Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) +0:02 
5. Sergio Higuita (EF Pro Cycling)

CLASSIFICATION STANDINGS

General Classification

1. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) 8:41:35
2. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) +0:04
3. Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb) +0:07

Points Classification

1. Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) 64
2. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) 46
3. Matteo Trentin (CCC Team) 36

King of the Mountains

1. Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R La Mondiale) 18
2. Anthony Perez (Cofidis) 18
3. Michael Gogl (NTT Pro Cycling Team) 12

WHAT'S NEXT

A 198km ride from Nice to Sisteron, and its spectacular citadel, is one that should feature another sprint to the line on a flat finish.


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