The pack rides during the eighteenth stage of the Tour de France cycling race over 208 kilometers (130 miles) with start in Embrun and finish in Valloire, France, Thursday, July 25, 2019. (AP Photo/ Christophe Ena)

One down, two to go for Alaphilippe, still in yellow at Tour

July 25, 2019 - 8:14 am

SAINT-MICHEL-DE-MAURIENNE, France (AP) — One big Alpine stage completed, just two more to go, and Julian Alaphilippe is still in yellow with France one step closer to having a first Tour winner since 1985.

Continuing to contribute more than anyone to making this the most exciting Tour de France in decades, the French rider recovered from a moment of weakness on the lunar Galibier pass and sped down treacherous hairpin bends on the other side to preserve his race lead Thursday.

Colombian rider Nairo Quintana won the first big Alpine stage with three climbs to above 2,000 meters (6,500 feet), putting some color back into what so far had been an underwhelming Tour for the former two-time runner-up.

But it was Alaphilippe who really raised eyebrows, confounding even his own expectations in the high Alps.

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