Dubai: Britain’s Adam Yates inherited the yellow jersey of the Tour de France after Julian Alaphilippe was hit with a time penalty at the end of Stage Five that was won by Wout van Aert in Privas, late on Wednesday.
Van Aert won the 183km stage from Gap in a sprint finish, but the drama came after the race was over, when commissaires took 20 seconds off Alaphilippe for breaking a rule inside the final 20km.
The decision saw Mitchelton-Scott rider Yates, who began the day four seconds down, elevated into the race lead as he became only the ninth Briton in history to don the yellow jersey.
“It’s not the way I imagined taking the [yellow] jersey. I’m not even sure what happened to Julian — I heard he got a time penalty for taking a feed late. If I’m honest I don’t think anyone wants to take a jersey like this, but I guess we’ll wear it tomorrow,” Yates said.
“Tomorrow I was looking to try to take the jersey anyway so we’ll go in with the same tactics, try and win the stage and see what happens,” he added.
There was also an Irishman in green as Sam Bennett, beaten in the sprint by Van Aert, at least did enough on the day to move clear of former three-time world champion Peter Sagan in the points classification.
Alaphilippe’s Deceuninck-QuickStep team-mate now leads Sagan by nine points, becoming the first Irishman to wear green since Sean Kelly won the points classification for the fourth and final time in 1989.
With Yates at the head of the pack in the General Classification, it was Slovenia’s Primož Roglič of Team Jumbo-Visma sitting in second overall, just two seconds behind the Briton, while UAE Team Emirates young rider Tadej Pogacar is in third, another four seconds off the pace, and Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) is fourth, nine seconds back.
The defending champion Egan Bernal of Ineos Grenadiers is part of a group of eleven riders who are 13 seconds off the General Classification lead. Benoit Cosnefroy of AG2R La Mondiale continues as mountains classification leader, while Pogačar has retained the best young rider’s White jersey.
Stage Six of Tour de France will continue on Thursday with the second summit finish of the week, atop Mont Aigoual. The stage is expected to be a long, rolling 191km day suited to a breakaway.