Tour de France 2020

Alaphilippe, Yates reset Tour de France focus

Former race-leaders return to original stage-hunting plans with final week in the Alps in the eyeline.

The two unexpected bearers of the yellow jersey through the opening phase of the Tour de France are now returning to “Plan A.”

Both Julian Alaphilippe and Adam Yates held the lead of the Tour for several days through the first week of the race, despite their pre-Tour intentions. However, with both now out of contention for the yellow jersey, it’s back to their original plans to snipe for stages.

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“For the yellow jersey, it’s over but for stage victories, I remain motivated,” Alaphilippe said Monday. “It was unfortunate to lose it in this way [due to a time penalty], but in the end, it still may be better for me.”

Having come into the Tour making clear that he was not looking to repeat his against-all-odds 14 days in the yellow jersey of 2019, the Frenchman is now setting his sights on the tough final week of the race.

“There are several stages that caught my attention,” he said. “I don’t know the Puy Mary stage [stage 13, Friday] but I spoke to my teammate Rémi Cavagna, who knows the area well and told me that it would be a really difficult stage, so will be a good day to try.

“But above all, it’s the stages in the Alps that I think will be the best for me. I reconned these stages which is an added motivation. I am determined to give it a try something, but the legs will decide.”

While the mountainous Alpine stages are on his hit-list, Alaphilippe is not eyeing the polka dot climber’s jersey, which he won in 2018. Instead, the Frenchman said he will focus his energies on supporting Deceuninck-Quick-Step’s sprinter Sam Bennett, while retaining some matches for the Imola world championships, scheduled just one week after the Tour wraps up in Paris.

Alaphilippe now sits over 40 minutes down on GC after shedding chunks of time on both Pyrénéan stages over the weekend, and will be afforded the freedom to go on the rampage in the Alps.

The same can’t be said for Yates, who inherited his yellow jersey after Alaphilippe was controversially docked 20 seconds due to an illegal feed on stage 5 last Wednesday. Yates is currently just over one minute down, and still in eighth in the overall.

Like Alaphilippe, Yates and his Mitchelton-Scott team came for stage victories, and so it’s back to the original plan for the remainder of the race – though he may need to drop himself first.

“I probably need to be around 10 minutes behind,”  Yates said when asked about his plan to win a stage.

“Yesterday [Sunday] it took 60 kilometers for the break to go, so it will be a hard fight. You’re going to have to be a long way down before you get any freedom. If you’re only three minutes down and you try and go up the road, you’re going to get shut down… if I have to I’ll just go off the back and lose time here and there before the Alps.”