The first French stage winner of the 2018 Tour de France, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors), also takes the Zwift Rider of the Day honours for his efforts on the road to Le Grand Bornand. Alaphilippe made the early break of the day before riding the final 30km alone en route to a solo victory.
A strong 21-rider group formed the break of the day, with the Frenchman joined by riders of the calibre of Tony Gallopin (AG2R La Mondiale), Ion Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida), and David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ). After the group split on the arduous 11 per cent average climb of the Col des Glières, Alaphilippe made his way back to the front to claim the mountain points before leading alone on the gravel section at the top.
Direct Énergie's Rein Taaramäe, gunning for a Tour stage win to go with his 2011 Vuelta and 2016 Giro stages, attacked on the penultimate climb of the day, the Col de Romme. It was towards the top of that climb where Alaphilippe launched his offensive, passing Taaramäe over the top to lead the race alone once again.
Flying down the descent, up the Colombière, and then down into Le Grand Bornand, he wouldn't be caught, going on to take the win by 1:34. And with maximum points over four of the day's five climbs (the Glières, Romme, Colombière, and the earlier category 4 Col de Bluffy), Alaphilippe also took the lead of the mountain classification with 41 points to second-placed Taaramäe's 28.
The stage win is another chapter in the best year yet of Alaphilippe's career. Starting out the season with a stage win at the new Colombia Oro y Paz race, his spring included two stages at the Vuelta al País Vasco and his first classic win at La Flèche Wallonne, later winning on the summit finish of Lans-en-Vercors at the Critérium du Dauphiné before heading to the Tour.
It's also a milestone for Quick-Step Floors, being their 50th win of the season. It's the most wins a team has had at this point of the season since Columbia-HTC took 55 back in 2009. That team went on to win 83 races, a record since the turn of the Millennium, and one that this Quick-Step Floors team will surely look to beat.
"There's a lot of emotion, because winning at the Tour is not easy," said Alaphilippe after the stage. "I came close in my first Tour two years ago, and to win in this way is unexpected because… I don't even have the words… I'm just thinking about my family.
"I was disappointed on the Mûr-de-Bretagne - it suited me well," he added. "I lost to stronger riders, simple as that - the legs weren't as good as I'd hoped. So to bounce back like that is the perfect response."
Daniel Ostanek: The man in yellow, Van Avermaet, put in a superb ride in the mountains today to extend his overall lead, but today's Rider of the Day had to go to Alaphilippe. He bossed a strong breakaway group, hoovering up mountain points for his probable polka dot jersey bid, before attacking solo with a good chunk of the stage still to go. A masterful performance on the Tour's first foray into the Alps.
A quick mention, too, for Anna Van Vleuten and her La Course by Le Tour victory. The Dutchwoman overhauled her compatriot Anna van der Breggen 20 metres from the line to take the win, one of the most exciting finishes we'll see all year after a great race.
On Sunday's stage 9 you voted for John Degenkolb as your Zwift Rider of the Day. The Trek-Segafredo sprinter took the stage win in Roubaix, out-sprinting Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) and Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Floors) after an arduous stage over the famous cobbles. It was an emotional win for the German, being his first WorldTour victory since his comeback from the career-threatening training crash of January 2016 that also saw five teammates hospitalised.
You can vote for stage 10's Zwift Rider of the Day below. We will announce the reader's poll winner after Wednesday's stage 11.
With the first Alpine stage of the #TDF2018 in the books, who's your Zwift Rider of the Day? Choose from Alaphilippe's first French stage win, Van Avermaet extending (!) his GC lead, Sagan extending his points lead, or Dan Martin giving it a dig on the Colombière— Cyclingnews.com (@Cyclingnewsfeed) July 17, 2018