Stage 2) Camaiore - Chiusdino
Italy Thursday 11 March 2021 202 km
Tirreno-Adriatico: The rainbow jersey shines in Italy
UCI World Champion Julian Alaphilippe blasted to his maiden victory of the season after delivering a perfectly-timed attack in the closing 200 meters of Thursday’s stage to Chiusdino which saw him become the French rider with the most stage wins at Tirreno-Adriatico.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step delivered a tactical masterclass on stage 2 of the race, sending Giro d’Italia revelation João Almeida on the attack with over 25 kilometers to go, a move which ended up giving more trouble to the peloton then they had expected, after the Portuguese was joined by three other men. Going into the last ten kilometers, their gap stood at 40 seconds, forcing the bunch chase hard in order to shut down that move on the Chiusdino climb.
With two kilometers to go, the chasers could see the leaders, but Almeida continued to make it hard for the bunch, getting out of the saddle and dropping his companions. The 22-year-old gritted his teeth as he rode under the flamme rouge, but the margin began to come down rapidly. Sensing this was the perfect moment to go, Julian Alaphilippe – who up until that point sat on the wheel of Kasper Asgreen and Zdenek Stybar – punched clear 200 meters from the line and held off both Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) and Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) as he celebrated his second win in the iconic rainbow jersey.
“We were in a perfect position with João at the front, which allowed me to stay focused on keeping my position. When it became clear he would get caught after Thomas’ forcing, I went and gave everything, full gas until the line. This first victory of the season is a relief for me. It’s never easy to win in the rainbow jersey and to do it at this race feels amazing”, said Julian, whose first success of the season came in the country where he conquered the rainbow stripes last September.
Alaphilippe, who became the fifth different Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider to put his name on the winners’ list this year, was full of praise for his teammates: “I couldn’t have done it without them, so a big thanks goes to the guys. Kasper and Zdenek took care of me on the climb, while João’s attack made it easier for us in the final. The day was a hard one, but the team did an incredible job and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome, especially as it came in the same country where I won this beautiful jersey.”
“In the final part of the stage there were many attacks and we decided to join in, knowing it would put the team in a better position for the last climb. With two kilometers to go I dropped the others, but I knew my chances were slim, with only a few seconds separating me from the bunch. At 300 meters to go, the peloton was closing in at a different speed, so it was over for me. I am glad Julian took the victory, because if he wouldn’t have attacked at the right moment, then another rider would have won. It was a perfect day for us and this gives us more confidence for the next stages”, Almeida added after concluding the day in seventh place, thus making his way into the top 10 overall.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/Getty Images