A French yellow jersey and who intends to stay the same: the first half of the Tour put Julian Alaphilippe at the top of the poster but, before the first high mountains at the end of the week, the favorite team, Ineos, has placed ideal position, with Thomas (2nd) and Bernal (3rd).
. Alaphilippe has several days in yellow in front of him
How far will the adventure of the yellow jersey continue? The world number one, Julian Alaphilippe, ignores him himself but he was optimistic during the day of rest on Tuesday in Albi. "I've never been so good, I still feel pretty cool," he said.
In front of him appear several days without significant risks. The next appointment is set in the Pyrenees, Thursday, at Bagneres-de-Bigorre, beyond two passes of the first category (Peyresourde, Hourquette d'Ancizan). The next day is the Pau time trial. Then, the arrival at the top of the Tourmalet Saturday and finally the stage of Ariège, Sunday, to conclude the Pyrenean sequence.
At La Planche des Belles Daughters last Thursday, the French team Deceuninck competed with the Welshman Geraint Thomas (Ineos). "Currently, he holds until about half an hour, after he weakens", explained before the departure of Brussels his cousin and coach, Franck Alaphilippe.
But, the motivation - exacerbated - helping, "Alaf" has the means to surprise. Both in the lap of Pau and Tourmalet. Driven by growing popularity, he promised: "I will try to push my limits."
. Ineos holds the orders of the race
The 10th stage reminded him on Monday: the Ineos team has a superior collective strength and knows how to run at best. His offensive in a stage of plain has given him the advantage after a start of the Tour that left it within range of his opponents.
"At this stage of the race, finding ourselves in second and third places is probably the best result for us," agrees the boss of the British team, Dave Brailsford, who welcomes the positive atmosphere around this edition. Last year, his team faced the turmoil around Chris Froome and his abnormal anti-doping test with salbutamol on Vuelta-2017.
"We are in a strong position," agrees Geraint Thomas, the outgoing winner. Only downside: "It would be better if there were only a few seconds between me and Alaphilippe, not a minute (1 min 12 sec), but other than that, it's great."
Like his team, the outgoing winner prefers to remain cautious: "We have a great experience of great tours, we will not be complacent".
"I do not feel any extra pressure this year," said the Welsh, who, at age 33, knows the mistakes to avoid: "I do not go on social networks, I do not read all the noise that surrounds the race."
"We have only one goal, try to win the Tour," he insists, compared to the strategy of another strong team, Jumbo, who has already won four stages.
"Yellow is much more important than white," added Bernal, the Colombian (22) who wears the jersey of the youngest and is 3rd overall.
. Pinot forced on the offensive
Behind the two leaders of Ineos, separated by 4 seconds only, their rivals are forced to take time. First, Thibaut Pinot, who competed in the first finish at the summit (Thursday with The Planche of Beautiful Girls) and then took the advantage in the stage of Saint-Etienne before losing the entirety, and even beyond Beyond, his advance Monday on the road to Albi.
During the break, the boss of his Groupama-FDJ team, Marc Madiot, held a revolt speech. "If we were in a football game, I would say we are 1-0 at the half-time of a Champions League game, it's not the end of the match," said Madiot. "The deadlines that arrive are difficult, they will be for everyone.We have a small advantage, we will be on our ground."
Pinot, who confessed to being "still angry" 24 hours after the blame assumed collectively ("I saw runners as disappointed and sad as me, there were beautiful words"), announced his willingness to move to the 'attack. He made an appointment at the Tourmalet, where he will also aim for the stage victory.
They are still six (Kruijswijk, Buchmann, Mas, A. Yates, Quintana, D. Martin) to be less than a minute late on Thomas. The other podium candidates are further ahead and their delay may worsen after the Pau time trial on Friday.
From there to consider alliances between Monday beaten (Fuglsang, Uran, Porte, Pinot)? "On the Tour, they are always appropriate, for a limited time," said Madiot, "and that's fine."
© 2019 AFP