At 26, Van Aert is a jack of all trades. He can sprint, climb and time trial, but did not fight for the general classification, working in support of Jumbo-Visma leader Primoz Roglic.
Tour de France 2021: Mark Cavendish wins stage six, Mathieu van der Poel keeps hold of leader's jersey
After a barren five-year spell on the Tour, the win on stage six took Cavendish's tally on the world's greatest bike race to 32, just two short of Belgian great Eddy Merckx's all-time record of 34.
Cavendish only made the Deceuninck Tour de France roster after Irish sprinter Sam Bennett pulled out at the last minute and was generous in his praise of the team's crucial role in his return to the top.
World champion Alaphilippe shot up the early section of the final 3km climb taking ten bonus seconds at the finish line and ended another 12 seconds ahead of his nearest challenger.
Julian Alaphilippe wins uphill sprint finish to take second stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, Wout van Aert retains lead
Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel crossed second ahead of Belgian Wout van Aert, who retains the overall lead, after the 202km run from Camaiore to Chiusdino in Tuscany.
After winning the 2020 UCI Road World Championships, cyclist Julian Alaphilippe has admitted that the Tour de France is the race he would want to win the most.
World champion cyclist Julian Alaphilippe recovers from embarrassing Liege defeat to win at Brabantse Pijl
It was Alaphilippe's first win with his world champion rainbow coloured jersey and bike after his farcical finish at Liege-Bastigne-Liege on Sunday.
Tour de France 2020: Marc Hirschi wins stage 12 after couple of near misses; Primoz Roglic remains on top of standings
Hirschi finally found the right formula with a heroic long-range solo victory on the Tour's longest stage of 218km
Tour de France 2020: Julian Alaphilippe relinquishes yellow jersey to Adam Yates; Wout Van Aert wins stage four
Mitchelton-Scott's Yates took advantage of Alaphilippe's 20-second sanction for drinking water from a bottle at the 17km mark as Belgium's Wout Van Aert won the fifth stage.
Ewan, 26, won three stages on the 2019 Tour but started this edition on his backside after a bruising fall on crash-strewn opening stage.
Julian Alaphilippe has a four-second lead over Yates, with Hirschi in third place three seconds further back ahead of Monday's hilly Stage 3 from Nice to Sisteron.
Tour de France 2020: UAE Team Emirates rider Alexander Kristoff wins crash-marred opening stage in Nice
The Norwegian will now wear the overall race leader's yellow jersey, having fought back from an early fall that looked like ruling him out.
Tour de France 2019: Egan Bernal becomes first Colombian to win cycling's greatest prize, 2018 champion Geraint Thomas finishes second
Egan Bernal clinched victory in the Tour de France on Sunday, parading into Paris safely in the overall leader's yellow jersey, becoming the first Colombian winner of cycling's greatest prize and its youngest in more than a century.
Tour de France 2019: Egan Bernal takes yellow jersey from Julian Alaphilippe as hailstorm prematurely curtails Stage 19
Tour director Christian Prudhomme immediately announced that times would be taken at the top of the mountain, where Bernal was 2 minutes, 7 seconds faster than Alaphilippe, enough to wipe away the Frenchman's race lead
Tour de France 2019: Nairo Quintana wins stage 18 as compatriot Egan Bernal rises from fifth to second in overall standings
The Movistar captain Quintana blew his lines in the Pyrenees, but gained almost six minutes on the main contenders to finish the first full day in the Alps sixth overall
Tour de France 2019: Italian Matteo Trentin wins Stage 17 via solo attack; Julian Alaphilippe retains yellow jersey
The breakaway split when Dutch rider Bauke Mollema accelerated at the front, a move that reduced the leading group to 10 members before Trentin made his move
Tour de France 2019: Caleb Ewan notches up second win of tour as Julian Alaphilippe maintains overall lead after stage 16
Caleb Ewan sprinted to his second victory on the Tour de France on Tuesday as Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe kept the overall lead after stage 16, where Geraint Thomas fell but finished with all the main contenders.
Tour de France 2019: Julian Alaphilippe says yellow jersey 'hanging by a thread' as race heads into final week
The 27-year-old Deceuninck-Quick Step rider, looking to become the first Frenchman to win the Tour since Bernard Hinault in 1985, told reporters on Monday's rest day that "the toughest is yet to come".
Tour de France 2019: Simon Yates wins second stage in four days as Julian Alaphilippe keeps overall lead
Thomas struggled on the final climb into the clouds, but then closed the gap on the leader to 1min 35sec by dropping him with a late burst afer initially looking like he was going to lose precious time on the overall leader.
Tour de France 2019: Julian Alaphilippe wins stage 13 individual time-trial to extend lead atop standings, retain yellow jersey
As Alaphilippe made the 18 percent slope ahead of the home straight the noise was deafening as the victory over time-trial specialist Thomas unexpectedly materialised