Twenty-four hours after the triumph of his leader Primoz Roglic at Orcières-Merlette, Wout Van Aert thrillingly broke free of his supporting role to grab a second consecutive victory for Jumbo-Visma, in Privas, on completion of a sprint which was whittled down to smaller numbers by a break in the peloton created by the Ineos-Grenadiers team nine kilometres from the finish. The Belgian, who also tasted victory on the Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo, had a free rein today. He did not let the opportunity slip through his fingers and now has two stage wins on the Tour, one year after his victory in Albi, on another windy day. Due to taking a water bottle in the last 20 kilometres, which is not authorised, Julian Alaphilippe was handed a 20 second penalty and lost his Yellow Jersey to Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).
A day without a breakaway
The day after the first summit finish on this year’s race, there were no non-starters at the beginning of the stage in Gap. The 172 riders left the administrative centre of the Hautes-Alpes department in bright sunshine and with the desire to spend an easier day in the saddle. Apart from a brief attempt by Kasper Asgreen, a team-mate of the morning’s Yellow Jersey Julian Alaphilippe, after 4 kilometres, nobody put themselves forward to form a breakaway, with the trail-blazers taking it easy amongst the pack.
Bennett takes the Green Jersey
The peloton arrived at the intermediate sprint at L’Epine after 48 kilometres in grouped formation. Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick Step) was the quickest, to provisionally take the Green Jersey from Peter Sagan, who was tied on points this morning with the Irish champion and who took 4th place. The pace remained moderate on the slight downhill incline that took the riders away from the Alps. Deceuninck-Quick Step, the team of Yellow Jersey Julian Alaphilippe, then Jumbo-Visma, the team of Primoz Roglic, took turns to set the pace at the front of the peloton, without pushing themselves into the red.
Ineos-Grenadiers break up the peloton
Two category 4 climbs needed to be tackled in the finale. Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R La Mondiale) made the effort to be the first man to reach the summit each time and reinforced his lead in the Polka Dot Jersey. The Mistral, blowing from the side and then the front, caused limited nervousness in the peloton, restricted to a fall by Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) and a puncture for Richard Carapaz (Ineos-Grenadiers), both of who swiftly re-joined the pack. A move initiated by Ineos-Grenadiers broke the peloton in two but failed to catch any of the favourites out, meaning it all came down to the final sprint. Belgian Wout Van Aert, freed for the day from duties supporting his team leaders Primoz Roglic and Tom Dumoulin, demonstrated his power to taste victory ahead of Dutchman Cees Bol (Sunweb) and Sam Bennett, the new Green Jersey.