Quick-Step Floors’ Julian Alaphilippe issued a warning shot to his rivals by sprinting to victory at the end of a breathless third stage of the OVO Energy Tour of Britain in Bristol on Tuesday.
The Frenchman, who won the King of the Mountains prize at this summer’s Tour de France, outsprinted Patrick Bevin (BMC Racing) and ONE Pro Cycling’s Emils Liepins to win a reduced bunch sprint on Ladies Mile, Clifton Down.
The Bristol Stage combined spectacular man-made wonders – a double crossing of Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge – with the local area’s best natural features as the race wound its way through Cheddar Gorge and across the Mendip Hills.
Coming onto the long, 900-metre finish straight Quick-Step Floors’ Bob Jungels took over from BMC, lifting the pace and setting up perfectly for Alaphilippe, who headed home Bevin and the fast-finishing Emils Liepins, with Great Britain youngster Ethan Hayter a highly creditable fourth.
Speaking after the stage, Bevin said: "It was hard all day – I’m not sure if the TV pictures did it justice, but the pace never really came off. It was a classic Tour of Britain day. Every kilometre today was tough – the guys did a great job, we got it right over the final climb, I had team-mates around me until the end. The stage win would have been really nice, but we’re still in the hunt for the overall."
Stage Four sees the OVO Energy Tour of Britain visit Warwickshire, following in the successful wheel tracks of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour, which has visited the county for the past three years. The 183.5-kilometre leg takes the riders from Nuneaton to Royal Leamington Spa, passing the likes of Kenilworth Castle and Warwick Castle.