Julian Alaphilippe collected his first win as a professional on the final stage of the Tour de l'Ain on Saturday. The Omega Pharma QuickStep rider won from a small group having made the key split during the final stage of the race to Arbent. The 22-year-old, who was third in the London-Surrey Classic, had already picked up three top-ten results in the Tour de l'Ain before sealing his first pro-win in Omega colours.
"Of course I'm super happy as it's the first victory as a professional,” Alaphilippe said in a team press release.
“It's a kind of dream to win in France as a French rider. It gives me an explosion of joy, this victory. Today we stayed really concentrated in the first part of the peloton.”
Alaphilippe’s team tried to control the break in the finale with Carlos Verona taking third, one place behind Garmin-Sharp’s Daniel Martin.
“In the final, Dan Martin attacked about 7 or 8 kilometres from the finish. I stayed focused and in the first part of the group because I knew Romain Bardet wanted to go for the GC. So I waited for the right moment. Then at 3 kilometres to go, at the top of the small climb, I attacked and I went full gas. In the end, I won.”
The win also gave Alaphilippe victory in the best young rider and points competitions.
“I'm thrilled also because this week with the team I learned a lot. It was a great experience. I learned about tactics to defend the GC with Gianni [Meersman] in yellow. I also learned in the leadout train when I worked with Cav for the winning sprints of Gianni. Of course I learned on the climbs too. I learned how to stay with Rigoberto Uran as long as I could when the roads went uphill. Then on the last stage I took my possibility, and went for the victory. Really it was five days of racing I'll never forget in my life. I'm passing a good period of form.”
Alaphilippe - once a talented cyclo-cross rider at national level – will now take his form into another set of races with two one-day events on his upcoming programme.
“My next race will be Hamburg and GP Ouest France - Plouay. I'm happy and can't wait to discover those two races, and hopefully have good collective results with our teams there."