Sinuous roads made for another day of relentless racing that took the sting out of pure sprinters and saw general classification teams amass at the front for a reduced bunch kick.
Alaphilippe credited Quick-Step Floors teammate Bob Jungels for an “incredible” lead-out inside the last kilometre of the 127.2km run around Bristol, which he won ahead of Bevin (BMC Racing) and Emils Liepins (One Pro).
It was a different kind of triumph for the French climber, who celebrated a solo stage victory and won the King of the Mountain classification at the Tour de France in July.
“I was surprised I won like that,” he said post-race. “For sure it’s 127km but it’s really full gas. I really like the roads here, with the whole left, right, up, down. It was a nice day.”
The 26-year-old has returned to racing in Britain following his success at the Tour de France and win at the San Sebastian Classic in early August.
“I’m surprised to be active in the race, especially in the final,” he said.
Alaphilippe sits third overall -- just two seconds in arrears of Bevin and Cameron Meyer (Mitchelton-Scott) on the overall standings. However, he played down form and subtly pointed to Jungels when asked to rate his chances of stealing the green jersey from the antipodes, who are on equal time.
“To be honest the GC was not my goal when I arrived here, but I’ll take it day by day. Bob also,” he said.
Kiwi Bevin the new Tour of Britain race leader
Bevin was disappointed not to convert teamwork to a stage victory despite his jumping from third to first overall. The 27-year-old collected six seconds at the finish and was in the mix of what was a frantic start to take a couple of seconds on the first intermediate prime.
“This race has often been decided by seconds and bonuses. It’s two stages now I’ve picked up bonus seconds and I’ll keep chipping away every chance I get,” Bevin said. “For me to win this race, or the team to win the race, I’m going to need all those seconds.”
The former New Zealand national time trial champion is expecting a proper shakedown of the general classification over the coming days though was the first to speak confidently of Thursday’s decisive uphill team time trial.
“We’ve got a strong team here for the team time trial and the goal was always to be in touching distance of the lead going into that,” he said.
“It’s obviously not a standard, straightforward team time trial, finishing up a climb changes the dynamic, and then the hilltop finish the next day. But the aim for the team was to keep guys up there until then and you can’t get further up there than leading the race. Hopefully we hold it tomorrow and see how things shake out post team time trial.”