Daily Tribune (Philippines)

Alaphilipp­e preserves lead

My legs are killing me


COLMAR, France — Slovakia’s Peter Sagan kept enough strength in reserve in the hills of Alsace to win a reduced bunch sprint for his 12th overall Tour de France stage win on Wednesday.

France’s Julian Alaphilipp­e held onto the leader’s yellow jersey and even had a tilt at the stage win with a downhill charge after the final climb.

Alaphilipp­e, who was cheered throughout by French fans again Wednesday, will start leader for Thursday’s first real mountain test that concludes with a tough summit finish in the Vosges.

“My legs are killing me,” said Alaphilipp­e, who took the overall lead on Monday with a gun-slinging offensive from 15 kilometers.”

“Tomorrow is going to be a huge test, for me and everyone,” said the 27-year-old former soldier.

Sagan’s win will be popular with armchair fans as the charismati­c former triple world champion and six-time green sprint jersey winner, had had two near misses so far.

“I try every day, and then one day you get it,” said the burly Sagan.

“I suffered a bit in the climbs. But I had to get into the sprint. I was patient. I’m 47 points ahead in the race for the green jersey now.”

Sagan turned on the power from 150 meters out to beat pre-race favorites including Jumbo Visma’s Wout van Aert, a breakout star who came second while Italy’s Matteo Trentin came third.

Van Aert, riding in his debut Tour since converting from cyclo-cross, closed in to within 14 seconds of the overall lead and maintains his under-25’s white jersey as the buzz around him continues to grow.

Defending champion Geraint Thomas and his Team Ineos co-captain Egan Bernal finished safely in the pack in Colmar after a stage that passed through vineyards and villages of picturesqu­e half-timbered houses.

Thomas was typically dry when asked what he expected as the peloton headed off in the morning, saying: “I’m expecting the worst and hoping for the best.”

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