Published: Sun, July 21, 2019
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Tour de France: Pinot takes Stage 14, Thomas loses ground

Tour de France: Pinot takes Stage 14, Thomas loses ground

Julian Alapahilippe extended his overall lead at the Tour de France on Friday winning the 27.2km individual time-trial at Pau on stage 13 to keep the yellow jersey and send his home fans wild.

"I'm happy to profit from this exceptional moment I'm having", Alaphilippe, 33rd a year ago, was quoted as saying by the Tour's website.

Thomas, whose Ineos team has been used to smash their rivals in the first high mountain stage of the Tour, crossed the line in eighth place, 36 seconds off the pace, throwing the British outfit into doubt.

It turned out to be a superb day indeed for Frenchmen, since the grueling 14th stage from Tarbes to Tourmalet was won by Thibaut Pinot in three hours, 10 minutes and 20 seconds.

"I just wanted to keep the jersey, but to win the stage, on this form, is just totally awesome", said Alaphilippe, the 27-year-old former soldier who is sending France wild with belief they can win a first Tour since 1985. Saturday was yet another day when Julian Alaphilippe - the only man ahead of Thomas in the general classification - was expected to struggle.

"I didn't really expect that". Now he leads by two minutes, two seconds. "He's obviously going incredibly well, so he's certainly the favorite and the one to watch at the minute", said Thomas, who will still feel his team have the race under control with the hardest part to come.

"I thought it was better just to try to ride my own pace and limit my losses that way, rather than stay with them and blow up on the steepest bit at the end". I just did everything that I can and I want to enjoy it. Bernal was fifth on the Tourmalet and is fourth overall, 3 minutes behind Alaphilippe. Stage 3 was also where Alaphilippe first took the race lead.

Asked if Alaphilippe, who says he is taking the Tour day by day and doesn't give himself much chance of hanging on in the mountains, was a threat, Thomas said: "For sure, the way he's riding". Having started the Tour in Belgium as equal co-leader with Bernal on their team, Thomas looks increasingly like the undisputed No. 1 at Ineos.

"I had a strong desire to win", said Pinot.

Roared on by crowds thunderously hammering on roadside barriers, and super-motivated on the 100th birthday of the iconic yellow shirt, Alaphilippe delivered a barnstorming performance on the tricky, hilly, turn-filled time-trial loop south of Pau, with spectacular views of the Pyrenees. From the start I just didn't feel great.

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