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Adam Yates takes a surprise yellow jersey at Tour de France

Joe Robinson
3 Sep 2020

Time penalty for Julian Alaphilippe sees him docked 20 seconds and race lead

After turning off the Tour de France on Wednesday afternoon, you may be scratching your head as to why British rider Adam Yates starts Stage 6 in the leader's yellow jersey.

That's because former leader, Deceuninck-QuickStep's Julian Alaphilippe, was docked 20 seconds by the race jury for taking a bottle within the last 20km of racing.

In a bizarre turn of events, Alaphilippe was fined and deducted time for taking a bottle from a team helper at the side of the road, none other than Julian's cousin and personal trainer Franck Alaphilippe, with 17km left to race.

Official rules state that the latest a rider can take food or drink from the team is 20km from the finish, which left the UCI commissaires with no choice but to deduct time from the Frenchman on General Classification.

This 20-second penalty was enough to see Mitchelton-Scott's Yates catapulted into the race lead and a maiden yellow jersey.

Much to the shock of Yates, who had already retired for the day to the team bus, showered and begun to tuck into his post-race meal when he was informed by the race jury that he was to be awarded the yellow jersey. 

'I don’t think anyone wants to take the yellow jersey like this. You want to do it by winning or taking time,' Yates said.

'I was on the bus, already showered, waiting for the last few guys to finish showering and then we’d have been going to the hotel but somebody called our director and told me we might have yellow so we had to head to the podium.'

Realising that Alaphilippe had been docked time due to a relatively menial offence, Yates did consider not wearing the yellow jersey on Stage 6 but then added, 'I mean probably, I’m pretty sure I’ll get fined if I don’t so I guess I’ll have to.'

Yates will now lead the Tour into Stage 6, a summit finish to Mont Aigoual, where he stands a decent chance of defending the jersey. 

While he doubts his own chances of wearing the jersey to Paris, admitting he is only here for stage victories, Yates believes getting the chance to pull on the Maillot Jaune is slightly serendipitous considering what happened to him at the Tour, on Mont Ventoux, in 2016.

'I came close to wearing yellow before, in 2016 when the motorbike incident happened with [Chris] Froome. Similar sort of situation, it’s happened to me twice now. I’d rather do this and get yellow with my legs than anything so I think we’ll take it stage by stage and see how it goes from there.'

As for Alaphilippe and Deceuninck-QuickStep, team manager Patrick Lefevere has already admitted that the incident was the team's fault, accepting responsibility for the consequences, regardless of how severe they seem.

They were dealt a consolation, however, as Irish sprinter Sam Bennett rode himself into the green sprinter's jersey on the run to Privas.