Tour de France: Alaphilippe clinches polka dot jersey

Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) on Friday sealed the deal on the polka dot jersey he's worn since his win during stage 10 at the Tour de France, infiltrating yet another breakaway on stage 19, the final mountain day of the 2018 Tour de France, and claiming two more KOMs along the way.

Alaphilippe now leads countryman Warren Barguil (Fortuneo-Samsic) by 79 points in the mountains classification after adding maximum points Friday on the Col du Tourmalet and Col d'Aspin. The 26-year-old Frenchman is now also the only rider to have won KOMs on four HC climbs in a single Tour: Glières, Bisanne, Madeleine and Tourmalet.

With just a time trial and final sprint stage remaining, Alaphlippe only needs to finish in Paris on Sunday to earn the final polka dot jersey to go along with his wins on stage 10 in Le Grand-Bornand and on stage 16 in Bagnères-de-Luchon.

"Coming into the Tour de France, my only goal was to get a stage victory, which was something I was dreaming of for some years now," Alaphlippe said in a statement released by his team. "The KOM jersey wasn't a priority at that time, but after landing it on my shoulders following the success in Le Grand-Bornand, I began thinking of taking it home.

"That's why today, when I led the breakaway group over the top of Tourmalet, which is such a legendary and revered climb, I was so happy."

Alaphilippe made the day's large early move with teammate Bob Jungels, who was hoping a good final day in the Pyrenees would propel him up the general classification. Silvan Dillier (AG2R La Mondiale) took the only mountain points on offer at the first KOM of the day, the category 4 Côte de Loucrup just 7km into the day. Damien Gaudin (Direct Energie) snatched up the only points on KOM 2, the category 4 Côte de Capvern-les-Bains at 40km.

Then Alaphilippe went to work.The Quick-Step puncheur took top honours and 10 points on the category 1 Col d'Aspin at 78.5km and then again atop the hors category Col du Tourmalet, where he took a maximum 20 points to put the jersey out of reach.

Alaphilippe wasn't done yet, however, as he put his considerable descending skills to work for Jungels on the descent into the valley that led to the bottom of the day's penultimate climb. With Jungels given a good head start on the Col des Bordères, Alaphlippe pulled the plug on his adventure off the front and faded back into the field, eventually finishing the stage 36th, 18:28 behind stage winner Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo).

On the podium of the final mountain stage, with the polka dot jersey firmly on his shoulders, Alaphilippe was finally able to relax and take it all in.

"It's been a really hard and tiring race," he said, "but I am extremely satisfied with what I accomplished together with my team, and I'm now looking forward to arriving in Paris after tomorrow's ITT." 

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