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San Juan stage 3: Alaphilippe wins TT, takes overall lead

The Frenchman follows up his stage 2 victory with another win and assumes the overall GC lead as Gaviria fades in time trial.

After Monday’s win in Vuelta a San Juan stage 2, Julian Alaphilippe said he wasn’t chasing the GC in the seven-day Argentinian race, but on Tuesday he won stage 3 and took the overall lead.

Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) covered the 12-kilometer time trial course around Pocito in 13:41. Valerio Conti (UAE Team Emirates) was second, 12 seconds slower. Young Belgian sensation Remco Evenepool finished on the same time as Conti, third behind his French teammate.

“I knew the time trial wasn’t going to be easy, but I had precious info from Remco [Evenepool], who completed the stage before me, and this helped me as I rode full gas,” said Alaphilippe. “I came here very motivated, but the victory surprised me, just like the one of yesterday.”

The course was flat enough that the previous day’s leader, Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) had a chance to defend his GC position. However, he came up short of doing that in sixth place, 21 seconds behind.

Expectations are high for Evenepool, who won the junior worlds road race and time trial in 2018. He was pleased with his first professional podium and Alaphilippe’s second win.

“I am very happy that a teammate won today, otherwise I would have been very angry with myself,” Evenepool said. “To lose for just hundreds of a second is never nice, but I can live with being third. I rode a strong race, but I pushed too hard in the front wind and this cost me in the end. It was a mistake, but on the other hand, I came here to gain experience and this ITT is something from which I will learn a lot.”

On Wednesday, the race takes its first foray into the mountains with a 186-kilometer race from San José de Jáchal to Villa San Agustín.

Stage 4 will climb a Cat. 1 mountain at the midway point, topping out at 1,496 meters before a long downhill run to the finish.

“For my part, I will continue to take it one step at a time and ride without pressure, just as I have done until now,” Alaphilippe added.