Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) today showed the same form that propelled him to victory in Strade Bianche last week at Tirreno-Adriatico becoming the first Frenchman in a decade to win a stage, after a powerful uphill sprint in Pomarance. Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) finished in the same time to retain his leader’s jersey.
“My team did a tremendous job today, controlling the breakaway, protecting me and keeping an eye on all the attacks in the final,” said Alaphilippe. “Styby covered the moves, and that helped me remain calm and patiently wait for the sprint, which I opened with 150 metres to go, going full gas to the line. I had good legs, but was also very strong also mentally, and that made the difference today.”
The stage featured an 8km-long final climb and the first accelerations came with six kilometres to go, with Deceuninck – Quick-Step setting a fast tempo at the front of the bunch. Kasper Asgreen fired off the front and managed to split the peloton with a small group immediately forming.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner Zdenek Stybar jumped from the field and joined the leaders, but the bunch regrouped as they approached the closing kilometre and bridged across with 400 meters remaining.
Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) was the first to kick out when they passed the 200 metres-to-go mark, but Julian Alaphilippe’s sharp sprint turned out to be more powerful on the uphill finish, allowing the Strade Bianche winner to sail to a comfortable win, which saw him move up to eighth overall.
“This victory makes me very happy, but I’m not thinking about the blue jersey, as I prefer to take it day by day and see what happens,” said Alaphilippe, the first Frenchman since 2009 to pick up a win at Tirreno-Adriatico, who now leads two classifications (points and KOM).
“Yesterday we lost time in the TTT and we were very motivated for this stage, so I’m happy I could finish it off with the help of my teammates. Tomorrow we will ride for Elia, because it’s a good opportunity for him. We continue to remain the same strong and united Wolfpack, always ready to work hard in order to achieve our goals.”