Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates) was never tipped to hold the yellow jersey too long, and he did relinquish the yellow fleece to Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) on a stage that included two category 1 ascents, as well as two tough climbs nearer the finish.
Alaphilippe produced a typical punchy attack to break clear of the peloton with Marc Hirschi (Team Sunweb) and Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) joining him. They finished just clear of the reduced peloton in the finale, and there were plenty of riders that suffered mishaps or weren't able to handle the pace.
Tom Dumoulin was the unwitting victim of a self-described ‘stupid crash’. With just over 12 kilometres to go in the race, Dumoulin looked over his shoulder and slightly drifted out, catching Michal Kwiatkowski’s rear wheel before tumbling to the bitumen.
“It was a bit of a stupid crash”, Dumoulin said. “I don't know exactly what happened. I looked over my left shoulder and at that moment Kwiatkowski came by and before I knew it, I was on the ground.
“I have no pain, I just hit my knee a little bit. I think my knee will be okay. Luckily I was able to return to the peloton quickly.”
Dumoulin didn’t lose any time on the stage, but wasn’t the only general classification contender casualty of the day, with Daniel Martínez (EF Education First) crashing twice and losing over three minutes.
Fringe general classification riders that may have been considered riders that would perform well at the race like Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates), Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), Ilnur Zakarin (CCC), Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation), Lennard Kämna (BORA-hansgrohe) and Tiesj Benoot (Team Sunweb) all lost significant time on the stage.
Pavel Sivakov (INEOS Grenadiers) continued his struggle of a race, clearly still experiencing difficulty from his two crashes on the first stage as he was dropped from the peloton early and limped to the finish in Nice as part of the grupetto.
After his stage win, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) holds a 17-second lead over the majority of the riders with pretensions at winning the Tour de France. He has said that he’ll defend the jersey, but has also said in the lead-up to the Tour that it wasn’t a major goal for him.
However, after last season where Alaphilippe kept the jersey until Stage 19, the other teams will certainly not want to take any chances by giving the Frenchman any sort of leash.
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.