The 26-year-old became the first Frenchman in a decade to win a stage, after a powerful uphill sprint in Pomarance.
Julian Alaphilippe carried the same good legs that propelled him to victory in Strade Bianche last week at the start of Tirreno-Adriatico and didn’t have to wait too long before claiming another victory on Italian soil, one that brought him back into contention in the general classification and which allowed Deceuninck – Quick-Step to taste success for the 16th time this season.
“My team did a tremendous job today, controlling the breakaway, protecting me and keeping an eye on all the attacks in the final. Styby covered the moves, and that helped me remain calm and patiently wait for the sprint, which I opened with 150 meters 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”, explained Julian, who became the second Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider to win a stage of the Italian race at Pomarance, after Stybar in 2016.
On Pi Day, the Tirreno-Adriatico organisers put on the table an 8km-long final climb which posed a different type of a dilemma to some of the riders: when was the best moment to attack and go for the win? First accelerations came with six kilometres to go, but didn’t spread any panic in the bunch, who at that point was seriously strung out following an impressive tempo set by the entire Deceuninck – Quick-Step team in the run-in to the ascent.
Kasper Asgreen fired off the front and managed to split the peloton, a small group immediately forming. Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner Zdenek Stybar jumped from the field and joined the party, but the bunch regrouped as they approached the closing kilometer and bridged across with 400 meters remaining. Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) was the first to kick out when they passed the 200 meters-to-go mark, but Julian Alaphilippe’s sharp sprint turned out to be more powerful on the uphill finish, allowing the Strade Bianche champion 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. 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”, said Julian, the first Frenchman since 2009 to pick up a win at Tirreno-Adriatico, who now leads two classifications (points and KOM).
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