“In my head I was always thinking of the stage today, I never thought I would take the yellow jersey. But now I have finished second in the stage and have the yellow and I am very happy.”
The Trek-Segafredo rider, who won the mountains classification at the Giro d’Italia, finished 11 seconds behind stage winner Dylan Teuns (Bahrain-Merida) as the stage tilted towards the heavens in the final kilometre of the first category ascent of La Planche Des Belles Filles.
Including time bonuses, he finished the day six seconds ahead of Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), who started the day in yellow.
Both riders were survivors of the day’s early break, as was Xandro Meurisse (Wanty-Gobert) who completed the podium.
Behind, it was Alaphilippe who was the first to emerge from the group of favourites as he attempted to save the yellow jersey, but he paid the price for his acceleration and was overhauled by defending champion Geraint Thomas (Ineos) and home-town favourite Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) in the last few metres.
“I felt pretty good,” said Thomas. “I thought it would be more of a solid day, it’s never easy, but it was steady over the first few climbs.”