Frenchman wins his maiden stage; Van Avermaet still leads
Julian Alaphilippe claimed the first mountain leg of this Tour de France on Tuesday, while Greg Van Avermaet kept the overall lead for a seventh consecutive day.
Alaphilippe, a French rider for Quick-Step, won the 158.5-kilometer (98.5-mile) ride from Lake Annecy that included climbs over four major Alpine passes before a descent to Le Grand-Bornand in around 4 1/2 hours.
Olympic champion Van Avermaet got into an early breakaway and held on to increase his lead over Geraint Thomas, a Sky teammate of defending champion Chris Froome, to 2 minutes, 22 seconds.
Alejandro Valverde of Movistar moved into third overall at 3-10 off the pace. Jakob Fuglsang of Astana was next at 3-12.
Froome is 3-21 behind Van Avermaet after recovering from a punctured tire atop the second of the stage’s ascents, finishing with Thomas and most of the top contenders.
Alaphilippe got his first Tour win after he attacked on the third ascent up the category-one Col de Romme and increased his lead over the Col de la Colombiere before the final downhill finish.
“I have no words. To get a victory at the Tour de France was a dream for me,” Alaphillipe said. “Everything went through my head, all the work, my family.”
It was the third stage win for the Quick-Step team at this Tour.
Froome punctured a tire on a gravel path atop the second climb up the beyond-category Montee du Plateau des Glieres, the first use of a dirt road by the Tour since 1987.
Despite having Sky teammates at the front of the peloton, once Froome got a wheel from teammate Jonathan Castroviejo, he was left all alone for several minutes until Wout Poels eventually dropped back to help him get back.
Van Avermaet got out in an early breakaway that managed to open up a seven-minute gap over the pack midway through the stage.
That proved enough for the Belgian rider to extend his lead despite struggling near the end of the stage when he was dropped by other front-runners.
Van Avermaet’s BMC team lost leader Richie Porte when he broke his collarbone on Sunday.
This stage was the first of three days in the Alps following the relatively flat legs of the first nine days.
Up next on Stage 11 is a 108.5-kilometer (67-mile) leg from Albertville to the top of the La Rosiere summit on Wednesday. That will be followed by Stage 12’s ascent of the legendary Alpe d’Huez.
Earlier, Dutch rider Annemiek Van Vleuten won the women’s La Course for a second year in a row. The single-day race was run on a route that included most of the men’s 10th Stage.
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