17 The Daily Telegraph Monday 31 August 2020 *** Sport That was for you dad, says emotional Alaphilippe By Tom Cary August 31 Distance Stage 3 Hill climb Sprint Bonus time CYCLING CORRESPONDENT in Nice 198km French rider dedicates stage two victory to his late father Sisteron Dignes-les-Bains 160.5km Yates second in GC after finishing third behind Hirschi Col des Lèques Col de l’Orme 117.5km 152.5km As he crossed the finish line, having won a thrilling three-up sprint against Marc Hirschi (Sunweb) and Britain’s Adam Yates (MitcheltonScott), Julian Alaphilippe raised his eyes skywards and pointed to the heavens in memory of his father, who died in June. The smile on his face was one of pure ecstasy. This victory meant so much, to Alaphilippe and to France. The 28-year-old DeceuninckQuickStep rider with the D’Artagnan goatee and the swashbuckling style to match was always the heavy favourite to win stage two of this year’s Tour. It might have been designed for him, with its two big cols to sap the legs of the pure sprinters, followed by two smaller kickers near the end – perfect for him to launch a trademark attack. But it is one thing being the favourite, and quite another to deliver in such stunning fashion, when the whole peloton knows what you are going to do and is watching you like a hawk. Alaphilippe delivered. Exploding clear of the bunch with 13.3 kilometres of the stage remaining, at the foot of the final kicker, the Col des Quatre Chemins, the Frenchman initially had just Hirschi for company. Yates bridged across a couple of kilometres later. But while the Briton was first over the top – taking a useful eight bonus seconds to Alaphilippe’s five and Hirschi’s two – the Frenchman was always in control. Driving the pace on the descent, the trio turned a 14-second advantage into around 21 seconds before, realising they were not going to get Col de la Faye 63.5km Nice Col du Pilon 55km special to be in yellow. This victory means a lot to me, I promised myself to win for my father, it was also important to win for the team because I’ve been unlucky for a while now. I’m proud and happy.” After the chaos of Saturday, when the rain turned the roads of the Riviera into an “ice rink”, yesterday’s was a far more straightforward stage. No less sapping, though. There were some sore, weary bodies slogging over the Col de la Colmiane and the Col de Turini, both climbs over 1,500m of altitude. Lotto-Soudal had only six riders, both John Degenkolb and Philippe Gilbert having damaged their knees in Saturday’s dance on ice. Wout Poels (Bahrain-McLaren) was racing with a broken rib. GC contender Tom Dumoulin (JumboVisma) hit the deck after tangling with Ineos’s Michal Kwiatkowski. It does not get any easier. Today’s “sprint stage” to Sisteron features four categorised climbs. Tomorrow’s third stage ends in a summit finish at nearly 2,000m altitude. Will Alaphilippe still be in yellow when we reach Orcieres-Merlette? If the Tour is called off due to Covid-19 at any point while he is in yellow, France could have its first champion since Bernard Hinault in 1985. Like last year, it may be some time before anyone is able to prise it from him. caught, they slowed to begin a dangerous game of cat and mouse with the finish line on the Promenade des Anglais in sight. The bunch were closing fast when Alaphilippe finally launched his sprint, almost in the last 100 metres, immediately springing a couple of bike lengths clear of Hirschi, who never quite recovered. Yates was well beaten but phlegmatic. “I was never going to win the sprint was I?” he smiled. “I think third was the best I could have got out of that situation. It was a good day. [The finish] was a block headwind and I ended up on the front. So not a good scenario there for me! But like I said, I was probably never going to win that sprint anyway, they are both faster than me. So yeah, have to be happy with third.” Yates’s consolation was to move up to second on general classification courtesy of those earlier bonus seconds. He now trails Alaphilippe by four seconds in the overall standings. But he has already said he is not riding for GC at this Tour. Despite finishing fourth in 2016, when he won best young rider, Yates is here to win stages. As is Alaphilippe. At least that is what he is saying publicly. He said the same last year and then got to within four stages of Paris before anyone could take yellow off him, spending two weeks in the He might do the same again. He said he would try to do the jersey proud. “For sure, when you’re in yellow you have to respect the jersey, you have to respect the race, we are in the biggest race of the world. So for sure it’s always maillot jaune. Zoom coaching sessions fail to halt Saints’ charge as they close on Wigan Teenager Jack Welsby, a replacement for suspended England winger Tom Makinson, scored twice alongside tries from Alex Walmsley, Kevin Naiqama and Aaron Smith as Saints moved to within two points of leaders Wigan. Hull KR were level at 12-12 at halftime but could not prevent a seventh consecutive defeat which leaves them two points adrift at the foot of the table. Elsewhere, put their offfield difficulties behind them to deliver a first win for head coach Andy Last, 31-12 against The Black and Whites suffered a 54-18 mauling by Salford in Last’s first match in charge and were then forced into isolation after nine players and three members of staff tested positive for Covid-19. Despite being without five regulars for their first game back after a three-week absence and losing the goal-kicking of half-back Marc Sneyd with a leg injury after 24 minutes, they responded superbly for a first win since March. Hull FC Rugby League Huddersfield. St Helens coach Kristian Woolf paid tribute to the professionalism of his players after revealing he had been coaching via Zoom in the build-up to their 32-18 win over Hull KR at Warrington. Saints were forced to cancel training and players and coaches had to self-isolate earlier this month after a member of their backroom staff initially tested positive for Covid-19, although a later retest came back negative. “The staff weren’t allowed near the players for the last week and a half but the players have been very professional in the way they prepared,” Woolf said. “We’ve spent a lot of time talking to players on Zoom and that meant, from a skills side of things, the players were in charge and they did a great job.” Woolf’s men made it four wins out of four since the resumption of their Super League title defence but were made to work hard by their bottom-of-the-table opponents. In an emphatic first-half display, Albert Kelly crashed over with Sneyd, Josh Griffin, Jack Brown and Mahe Fonua also all crossing. Ashton Golding and Jordan Turner scored either side of the break but Hull dampened any Giants’ fightback. Blake Austin scored a hat-trick of tries as thrashed 36-0 to move level on points with second-placed St Helens. Tony King, Josh Charnley and Ben Currie were also on the scoresheet, the latter running almost the entire length of the pitch. Warrington Wakefield
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