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09.07.2019 Sports News

Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe wins Stage 3 of Tour de France

By Rosie Collyer - RFI
REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

For the first time in five years a Frenchman has won the yellow jersey. Thousands turned out to see Julian Alaphilippe win Stage Three of the Tour de France.

Julian Alaphilippe broke into tears moments after crossing the finish line in the French town of Eparnay in the heart of champagne country.

The 27-year-old has a talent for climbing. He broke through the tight pack of leaders during the first climbs of the Tour de France.

“I felt good so I accelerated on the Cote de Mutigny climb, but I didn't think I'd go alone,” he told reporters with tears streaming down his face.

Alaphilippe took the yellow jersey from Dutchman Mike Teunissen who won stage one on Saturday, and his team Jumbo – Visma's win in time trials in Brussels on Sunday.

Riders have a 214 route ahead of them in Stage Four on Tuesday that starts in the champagne capital of Reims and finishes in Nancy, the home of quiche lorraine.

Huge following
The Tour de France is one of the biggest sporting event on earth in terms of the numbers of supporters.

One million spectators turned out to line the streets of Brussels over the weekend according to the police.

The Brussels Metro was free so that helped bump up numbers, and meant that people from a variety of backgrounds got to discover the sport.

Between ten and twelve million people are expected to line the route in France this year.

When the cyclists past, it happens in a flash, especially at the beginning of the Tour before riders break away. But spectators turn out not just for the rider but also to see the huge caravan that follows the Tour.

Marketing caravan
The 2,400 vehicles in the caravan are made up of the team's support cars and the Tour's main sponsors. This year they include the bank LCL, food distributor E.Leclerc, tire-maker Continental, the opticians Krys and the carmaker Skoda.

Sponsors hand out free goodies such as t-shirts, cycling caps, bags that help pull in crowds. E.Leclerc is sponsoring the Tour for the first time this year, and will hand out 1.2 million freebies.

The Tour provides a massive marketing opportunity for its main sponsors. How much they pay for the privilege is a closely guarded secret.

“I can't say how much we paid,” was E.Leclerc's press officer Lucie Hardy's response when asked how much was paid to obtain the contract with the Tour de France while handing out the company's press dossier.

The caravan will pass through 744 local government in France. And 1350 people on the caravan will book hotels in 21 towns and villages over the next three weeks.