Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe won the second stage of the Tour de France, a 186-km mountain ride around Nice, and took the overall leader's yellow jersey on Sunday.

Swiss Marc Hirschi took second place with Briton Adam Yates coming home third.

Alaphilippe, who last year wore the coveted jersey for 14 days, kept his cool to prevail in a three-man sprint in a time of four hours 55 minutes and 27 seconds.

The trio were almost caught by the peloton as they played cat and mouse with the finish line beckoning, but Deceuninck–Quick-Step rider Alaphillippe's final burst saw him pip Hirschi (Sunweb), with Yates crossing one second behind.

Belgium's Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) emerged from the chasing peloton to finish fourth ahead of Colombia’s Sergio Andres Higuita (EF Pro Cycling) and Holland’s Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), who was sixth.

Nicolas Roche was 24th, just 17 seconds behind Alaphilippe but Dan Martin was 18 minutes adrift in 100th and Sam Bennett, fourth yesterday, finished near the back of the field, almost half an hour behind the winners.

Alaphillippe leads the general classification in a time of 8:41.35, four seconds ahead of Yates, with Hirschi a further three seconds back and Higuita in fourth.

Overnight yellow jersey holder Alexander Kristoff lost touch with the peloton five kilometres from the top of the Col de Turini, a 14.9-km climb at an average gradient of 7.4%, way before the action started.

Alaphillippe dedicated his fifth stage win to his late father and could not hide his emotions at the finish.

"There's big emotion because I’ve won on the Tour," Alaphillippe said. "I haven’t won since the start of the season, so I’ve been working really hard.

"I’ve been working hard when it’s been really tough due to Covid and I want to dedicate this victory to my father, who died in June.

"I got to the last climb and gave it my all up that climb and having Adam Yates and Hirschi come up as well made me nervous, but we collaborated well into a headwind, which was tough, but I made it."