• Julian Alaphilippe dazzles again to take his fifth Tour de France stage victory and another stint in the yellow jersey (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Julian Alaphilippe broke down in raw emotion after saluting his father in victory on Stage 2 of the 2020 Tour de France. The Frenchman's father died in June after a long illness.
SBS Cycling Central

31 Aug 2020 - 3:50 AM  UPDATED 31 Aug 2020 - 11:16 AM

With the memory of Alaphilippe's whimsical reign in the maillot jaune at last year's Tour de France still etched in our minds, the 28-year-old is back once more in the leader's jersey after a dazzling display in Nice.  

But unlike his victory on Stage 3 of the 2019 edition where he escaped alone, he didn't have it all his own way. 

Team Sunweb's Marc Hirschi stuck to the Frenchman like glue when he sauntered away from the bunch, 13km from the finish on the Côte de Quatre Chemins.

Alaphilippe narrowly defeated the 22-year-old in the sprint to the line, with Mitchelton-Scott's Adam Yates fading just behind after he bridged to the duo soon after their attack.

The Frenchman broke down after crossing the line expressing raw emotion as he paid tribute to his father who died on the originally scheduled start date of this year's Tour de France. 

"I dedicate this victory to my father [who passed away on June 27]," Alaphilippe said breaking down in tears. 

"I hadn’t won a single race this year yet. But I’ve always remained serious with my training despite the difficult moments I went through.

"I asked my team to make the race hard. There weren’t many riders left in the last climb. I gave it all. I had nothing to lose.

"It was nerve wrecking but Adam Yates cooperated. I wanted to maintain the gap until the red flag. I’m kind of used to the pressure. To finish it off makes me feel good.

"This is the victory that I was missing. The yellow jersey is the ice on the cake."

As the peloton licked its wounds after a crash-marred opening stage, today was not without its own drama. Critérium du Dauphiné winner Daniel Martínez crashed on the descent of the Col d'Eze and as he looked to hook back on, the Colombian faded out the back after Alaphilippe's attack.

Major contender Tom Dumoulin (Jumbo-Visma) also came down in the stage's dying moments after clipping INEOS Grenadiers' Michal Kwiatkowski.

In pursuit of early intermediate points, Peter Sagan (BORA - hansgrohe) jumped from the gun. Team mate Lukas Pöstleberger, Benoît Cosnefroy (AG2R-La Mondiale), Kasper Asgreen (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo), Anthony Perez (Cofidis), Michael Gogl (NTT) and Matteo Trentin (CCC) soon joined him as they quickly built a small lead.

Sagan and Trentin battled it out for the maximum points with the Italian proving successful. But Trentin immediately punctured and went back to the bunch as the leaders pushed out their lead to just over two minutes, 10kms later.

Cosnefroy attacked under a kilometre from the top of the Col de la Comiane to secure the maximum points on that climb and enjoyed a 10 second advantage over his former breakaway companions on the descent with the peloton still two minutes behind wtith 116kms to go.

The Frenchman faded on the tough Col de Turini but rallied to rejoin the remaining leaders, now without Sagan, contesting the KOM with Perez. While Perez won that battle, both headed towards the final category two climb on 18 points with Cosnefroy ultimately taking the polka dots after finishing ahead of his fellow compatriot on the general classification. 

The peloton made the catch 40kms from the finish on the steepest part of the Col d'Eze.

Stage 3 goes through hilly terrain before a flat finish in Sisteron. Catch all the action from 8.00pm AEST on SBS On Demand and the SBS SKODA Tour Tracker, with the TV coverage starting at 9.30pm AEST.