Geraint Thomas is in the ideal position to win a maiden grand tour title after claiming victory on Wednesday's first mountain stage of the Tour de France, but the Briton says compatriot Chris Froome remains the Team Sky leader.
Fellow Brit Chris Froome also managed a podium finish in a stage that took the riders 108.5km through the Alps from Albertville to La Rosière, crossing the line third to move up to second overall - almost 90 seconds behind Thomas.
In the end, Van Avermaet produced a fantastic performance to finish 1min 43secs behind Alaphilippe, Thomas, Froome and Team Sky trailing over the finish over three minutes behind the stage victor. The word "legend" gets used too much, but he's probably the best-ever.
"It would be nice [to win the Tour] but I'm exhausted, everyone is exhausted", he said. "It was just a case of following (teammate) Egan (Bernal)", added Thomas.
It was the Welshman's second stage win on the Tour, after his victory in the opening time trial a year ago which saw him wear the leader's yellow jersey for four days before crashing out on stage nine.
Chris "Froome accelerated, I followed him".
"I'm still riding for Froomey", Thomas said.
The 169.5-kilometre (105-mile) leg starting from Bourg d'Oisans at the foot of the Alpe d'Huez delayed the resolution to the burning question of this race: Is Thomas really Sky's top option while Froome seeks a fifth Tour title?
"Not even in my wildest dreams did I believe I would win at Alpe d Huez, in the yellow jersey", said Thomas, who now leads four-time champion Froome by 1min 39sec in the overall standings. Don't affect the race, don't touch the riders, don't spit at us.
Dumoulin is third overall, one minute 50 seconds behind Thomas.
"There were two police motorbikes and the road became narrow, there were no barriers and Froome attacked, traffic slowed down and I fell".
Rigoberto Uran, last year's runner-up, withdrew before the stage began, having failed to recover from a crash on the cobblestones in Stage 9.
Katusha said Kittel's teammate, Rick Zabel, will be allowed to continue in the Tour after race organisers showed clemency since he missed the cut by only three seconds.
The 109 km stage from Albertville to La Rosière Espace San Bernardo was the second stage of the tour to take place in the Alps, following yesterday's finish in Le Grand Bornard.