Belgian rookie Aert seizes Stage 10 of Tour de France

ALBI, France (AFP) – Belgian rookie Wout Van Aert won Stage 10 of the Tour de France on Monday as Julian Alaphilippe extended his overall lead after a blistering late charge split the peloton.

Yellow jersey wearer Alaphilippe launched the attack from 38 kilometres out, where narrow roads and a crosswind created perfect conditions for the devastating attack.

Defending champion Geraint Thomas and his powerful Ineos team leapt into the fray in what turned into a rampage all the way to the quaint Tarn town of Albi.

Pre-stage title pretenders Richie Porte, Thibaut Pinot, Jakob Fuglsang and Rigoberto Uran all lost one minute and 40 seconds, while Movistar’s Mikel Landa lost over two minutes.

Frenchman Alaphilippe leads second placed Thomas by one minute and 12 seconds. A second Ineos rider, Egan Bernal, is at one minute and 16 seconds, and Van Aert’s teammate Steven Kruijswijk is another 11 seconds off in fourth.

Pinot, who started in third, dropped to 11th, two minutes and 33 seconds behind his countryman.

“We knew there was a chance of a split,” said Alaphilippe. “I have my ambitions, and we will defend this jersey every day.”

Ineos boss Dave Brailsford said the stage went exactly as he had planned.

Belgium’s Wout Van Aert (2nd R) celebrates, past Australia’s Caleb Ewan (L) and Italy’s Elia Viviani (R), as he wins on the finish line of the Stage 10 of the Tour de France. – AFP

“I feel like we just scored a goal,” said Brailsford.

“It’s really rare that you put that much time into so many top guys,” he said.

“This race is like no other, if you lose your attention you can end up losing major time, and that’s what happened to all those guys.”

“We saw the weather and spoke about this in the pre-race briefing,” said the Briton, who has plotted six Tour de France victories from the last seven.

Thomas, the 2018 champion, looked like the cat that got the cream.

“It was just a positioning error from them and they lose a minute and a half. That’s how it goes,” he explained.

The 22-year-old Bernal takes the best young rider’s white jersey.

“It was wild, but that’s the Tour, every day is super-hard here and anything can happen,” said the slightly built Bernal, who proved again here he can keep up with the burly riders who do well in crosswinds.

Nairo Quintana of Movistar was all smiles too, after finishing in the mini-peloton after an exhausting long-range dash.

“I was fortunate to be aware of what was happening, I feel lucky in a way, that’s racing,” said Quintana.

Jumbo Visma’s Belgian stage winner Van Aert claimed his first Tour de France victory beating top sprinters drained by the high-speed run in. Van Aert, who also won two stages on the Criterium du Dauphine after converting from cyclo-cross, is the latest breakout star on an unpredictable 2019 Tour.

For Jumbo Visma, it was the third individual stage victory this year, following Mike Teunissen and Dylan Groenewegen. The Dutch outfit also won the team time trial.

“That’s three stage wins for us so far,” said the 24-year-old multiple cyclo-cross world champion.

“It was great for me and Stevie (Kruijswijk),” said Van Aert, after he pipped Elia Viviani at the line.

“I came from the back with a really fast launch, I planned it that way because it’s the fastest way to finish.”