French break open champagne as Alaphilippe bags stage and Tour lead

French break open champagne as Alaphilippe bags stage and Tour lead

Frenchman Lilian Calmejane (Total-Direct Energie) tried his luck with a plucky attack in the final 10km but the 2017 stage victor was swept up without much ado once the sprint trains formed in earnest.

Italy's Elia Viviani claimed his maiden Tour de France stage victory as Deceuninck-QuickStep team-mate Julian Alaphilippe of France retained the yellow jersey after stage four.

It was Viviani's Deceuninck-Quick Step team-mate Alaphilippe who attacked late on in stage three and, determined not to be outdone, the Italian took the glory on Tuesday when he crossed the line just ahead of Alexander Kristoff and Caleb Ewan.

A FRENCHMAN won the stage and took the yellow jersey as the Tour de France finally reached home roads.

Team EF Education First rider Michael Woods of Ottawa was 64th in the stage, but moved up one spot to 10th over all.

"This means a lot and I still can't believe it", said Viviani at the end of the stage. The green jersey could become a goal if Peter Sagan struggles and Viviani wins two or three stages and scores a haul of points. Did you see the yellow jersey go when Mørkøv called him into position?

Julian Alaphilippe is the new leader of this year's Tour de France following victory on stage 3 into Épernay.

The main contenders, including defending champion Geraint Thomas, had a quiet day in the peloton.

'We really had to bust a gut, ' said Thomas afterwards.

"That climb where Alaphilippe went was steep and it was hard, but I just knew I didn't have the legs to go for the bonus sprint", Thomas said.

At the line, the 27-year-old former soldier had maintained enough power to establish a 20 second lead over Belgian prodigy Wout Van Aert in the overall standings.

On the flat stage, the peloton hauled in a breakaway group initially consisting of Michael Schär (CCC), Yoann Offredo (Wanty-Groupe Gobert) and Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Groupe Gobert).

Roof-top stork's nests and postcard Alsace villages are on the menu Wednesday, when the Tour traverses eastern France's Vosges mountains with two third category and two second category climbs from Saint-Die-des-Vosges to Colmar.

It was sweet reward for the 30-year-old, who had been frustrated to leave the Giro empty-handed in May, and found the finishing incline of Saturday's opening stage of the Tour in Brussels too hard.

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