Paris-Nice 2017: Julian Alaphilippe claims race lead with time trial win

Young Frenchman wins stage to take yellow jersey; Alberto Contador back in contention overall

Julian Alaphilippe (QuickStep Floors) is the new Paris-Nice 2017 leader after storming to time trial success on Mont Brouilly.

Alaphilippe, who started the day in second place overall, was favourite to pull on the yellow jersey after the 14.5km stage, but ensured he did so in style – the 24-year-old stopping the clock in 21.39.

Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) was second on the day, reviving his GC hopes as he climbed to eighth place overall – 1’31” behind the Frenchman.

Only two other riders – Tony Gallopin (Lotto-Soudal) and Gorka Izaguirre (Movistar) –stopped the clock in less than 22 minutes, and it is those two who now sit second and third overall at 33 seconds and 47 seconds respectively.

Julian Alaphilippe won the stage four time trial to claim the race lead (pic – Alex Broadway/ASO)

The course, which rolled out from Beaujeu, featured a long, flat opening run before the final three kilometres headed uphill, with an average gradient of 7.7 per cent to negotiate.

Just as the weather had made an impact earlier in the race, so it did on stage four too – this time cold and rain ensuring testing conditions for the race against the clock.

Early success on the course came from David de la Cruz (QuickStep Floors), who set the clubhouse lead with a time of 22.24 and remained in the hotseat for much of the day.

Michael Matthews (Orica-Scott) highlighted his versatility with a time of 22.26, while Richie Porte (BMC Racing) – who saw his GC hopes blown away by the crosswinds on stage two – was five seconds adrift of De La Cruz.

Contador finally shifted the QuickStep Floors from his leading position thanks to a big effort on the climb – his time of 21.58 putting him right back in the GC picture as those placed ahead of him overall tried and failed to better his time.

A slight slip on the climb cost Team Sky’s Sergio Henao, who posted 22.27, but Izaguirre’s time of 21.59 puts him in a strong position overall.

Gallopin stopped the clock in the same time as the Movistar man, but Contador’s time was finally beaten by the second-to-last rider on the course, Alaphilippe.

Alberto Contador is now back in contention overall too (pic – ANSA/RCS Sport)

Racing in the white of best young rider, Alaphilippe’s average speed was a fraction over 40km/h, enough to earn him his first UCI WorldTour stage win.

Race leader Arnaud Demare (FDJ) never looked like threatening his fellow Frenchman’s time, and cedes the yellow jersey as a result.

Alaphilippe will now look to take the leader’s jersey into the mountains, with a 33-second gap overall to second-placed Gallopin.

Paris-Nice 2017: stage four (ITT) – report

1) Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) – QuickStep Floors – 21.39
2) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Trek-Segafredo +19”
3) Tony Gallopin (FRA) – Lotto-Soudal +20”
4) Gorka Izaguirre (ESP) – Movistar – ST
5) Ilnur Zakarin (RUS) – Katusha-Alpecin +33”
6) David de la Cruz (ESP) – QuickStep Floors +45”
7) Michael Matthews (AUS) – Team Sunweb +47”
8) Sergio Henao (COL) – Team Sky +48”
9) Jon Izaguirre (ESP) – Bahrain-Merida +49”
10) Richie Porte (AUS) – BMC Racing +50”

General classification

1) Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) – QuickStep Floors – 12.36.27hrs
2) Tony Gallopin (FRA) – Lotto-Soudal +33”
3) Gorka Izaguirre (ESP) – Movistar +47”
4) Sergio Henao (COL) – Team Sky +1.05
5) Daniel Martin (IRL) – QuickStep Floors +1.20
6) Philippe Gilbert (BEL) – QuickStep Floors +1.24
7) Ilnur Zakarin (RUS) – Katusha-Alpecin +1.28
8) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Trek-Segafredo +1.31
9) Rudy Molard (FRA) – FDJ +1.32
10) Arnaud Demare (FRA) – FDJ +1.35


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