Albi, France: Dutch rookie Wout van Aert won stage 10 of the Tour de France on Monday as Julian Alaphilippe extended his overall lead after a blistering late charge split the peloton.
Yellow jersey wearer Alaphilippe started the attack from 20km out and defending champion Geraint Thomas and his Ineos team joined in to leave at least five of their rivals trailing 1min 36 adrift at the finish in the red roofed south-eastern town of Albi on the banks of the Tarn river.
Richie Porte, Thibaut Pinot, Jakob Fuglsang, Rigoberto Uran and Mikel Landa all lost time after overall leader Alaphilippe launched a devastating surge as a sudden headwind split the peloton.
Alaphilippe, in top spot, leads second placed Thomas by 1min 12sec, a second Ineos rider, Egan Bernal, is at 1min 16, and van Aert's teammate Steven Kruijswijk is another 11sec off in fourth.
Ineos boss Dave Brailsford said the stage went exactly as he had planned it.
"We saw the weather and spoke about this in the pre-race briefing," said the Briton who has plotted six Tour de France victories from the last seven.
His co-leader Thomas was exultant, if exhausted.
"That's just great. It was just a positioning error from them and they lose a minute and a half. That’s how it goes," said Thomas.
The 22-year-old Bernal takes the best young rider's white jersey.
"It was wild, but that's the Tour de France, every day is super-hard here and anything can happen. We are really happy to have gained some time," said the slightly built Bernal, who proved again here he can keep up with the burly riders who do well in crosswinds.
Nairo Quintana of Movistar was all smiles too, after finishing in the mini-peloton after an exhausting long-range dash.
"I was fortunate to be aware of what was happening, I feel lucky in a way, that's racing," said Quintana, whose co-captain Landa lost over 2 minutes.
Jumbo Visma's Dutch stage winner van Aert claimed his first Tour de France victory beating top sprinters drained by the high-speed run in.
On his debut Tour van Aert, who did well in the spring classics and won two stages on the Criterium du Dauphine after converting from cyclo-cross, is the latest break out star on an unpredictable 2019 Tour.
"That's three stage wins for us so far," said the 24-year-old multiple cyclo-cross world champion.
"It was great for me and Stevie (Kruijswijk)," said van Aert, who also said his win was down to perfect planning after he pipped Elia Viviani at the line.
"I came from the back with a really fast launch, I planned it that way because its the fastest way to finish and I was surprised to see they left a big gap for me to come through.
Slovak star Peter Sagan, the best paid rider in the peloton at 4 million euros ($4.51 million) per season , won in Albi six years ago but finished sixth on Monday.
On a 217.5km run that embarked from the breathtaking vantage point of the citadel of Saint Flour, it was the crosswinds rather than the three hills that eventually blew the race open.
The Tour reached it's halfway point ahead of the first rest day.
After Tuesday's break, the second half of the race is packed with high- altitude racing.