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French rider loses TDF lead



In a mad dash to the finish, Belgium’s Wout van Aert (left) rules Stage 5. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT/Various Sources/Agence France-Presse

PRIVAS, France (AFP) — Britain’s Adam Yates reluctantly took the Tour de France’s yellow jersey on Wednesday as overnight leader Julian Alaphilippe was penalized for taking on water in the final 20km, a decision which prompted the Frenchman’s boss to claim “he did nothing wrong.”

Mitchelton-Scott’s Yates took advantage of Alaphilippe’s 20-second sanction for receiving a water bottle at the 17km mark as Belgium’s Wout Van Aert won the fifth stage.

Taking on supplies from team cars is not allowed in the final 20km for safety reasons, but riders can drink or eat what they already have.

“Nobody wants to take the jersey like this. I was on the bus and we were about to leave for the hotel when I got a call,” Yates said.

“I’d already had my shower and everything I asked Julian and he told me he had a time fine, but tomorrow I’ll give it everything to defend the jersey and we’ll see day by day.

“It’ll be a big fight tomorrow and Julian will want to show he’s still here,” he added.

Deceuninck-Quick Step’s Alaphilippe, who wore the jersey for 14 days during last year’s Tour, took the news on the chin.

“What can you do,” said the former French soldier. “They decided to impose a 20 second penalty and it’s their choice.

“There will be other days and other opportunities,” he said.

Deceuninck-Quick Step team sporting director Tom Steels said there had been mitigating circumstances.

“It’s a shame to lose the yellow jersey like this. We knew there was the 20 kilometer rule,” he said.