World No. 1 Julian Alaphilippe of Deceuninck-Quick Step captured Stage 3 and the yellow jersey on Monday as the Tour de France made its way into its namesake country for the first time in this year’s race.
The 27-year-old Frenchman, who won two stages in the 2018 campaign as well as the polka dot jersey for best climber, made a late solo break to take the yellow jersey from Dutch rider Mike Teunissen over the 215-kilometer (133-mile) trek from Binche, Belgium, to Epernay, France.
“I’m speechless. I don’t realize what’s happening to me,” said Alaphilippe, who finished in four hours, 40 minutes and 29 seconds to finish 26 seconds ahead of the pack led by Team Australian Michael Matthews of Team Sunweb. “I knew this stage suited me. I managed to avoid any pitfalls and crashes. I felt good so I accelerated in the Mutigny climb, but I didn’t think I’d go alone.
“I gave everything. I heard I was 30 or 40 seconds ahead. It’s difficult to meet the expectations being the favorite. I made it. I’m delighted.”
The win made Alaphilippe the 85th yellow jersey wearer from France since Eugene Christophe in 1919.
Three-time world champion Slovak Peter Sagan of Bora-Hansgrohe retained the green jersey as the points leader, while Belgian rider Tim Wellens of Lotto Soudal took the polka dot jersey. Belgium’s Wout Van Aert of Team Jumbo-Visma won the white jersey for best young rider.
Team Jumbo-Visma leads the team standings.
Stage 4 continues Tuesday in France with a relatively flat 213.5-km (132.7 miles) trek from Reims to Nancy.
–Field Level Media
(This story corrects to fix headline)