Julian Alaphilippe took full advantage of the opportunity to ride for his personal ambitions on stage 3 of the Tour of California as he finished third having helped Mark Cavendish to victory on the two previous stages.
Etixx-Quick Step sport director Brian Holm explained that the performance of 22-year-old Alaphilippe in San Jose was further evidence of the Frenchman's potential after a strong Ardennes campaign in which he finished on the podium at both La Flèche Wallone and Liège-Bastogne-Liège
"He was just fine today and he even got the white jersey," Holm said. "We know he's fast, and he's a competitor. He's strong. He was there with riders like Alejandro Valverde in the Ardennes, so this performance is not really a surprise We thought he might be a little tired after the Ardennes Classics, but he's got class. He wanted to stay with the front group and he did it, and he got third behind a guy like Sagan. So we're happy with the result. As for the rest of the team today, everyone did well.
Alaphilippe explained he was happy to pursue personal ambitions after helping Cavendish to his two stage wins and performing his team role to aplomb.
"This season is all about new experiences for me as a young rider, and this is my first time at Tour of California" Alaphilippe said. "This was also my first eight-day stage race with a mountain stage and a time trial still to come. I have to say I'm enjoying it a lot. So far we had great teamwork with Mark winning two stages, and defending yellow. It was important to learn how to work in support of him, sometimes using a lot of energy in front. I was also honoured to be his second-to-last leadout man yesterday. We accomplished the goal of the win, and I was happy I contributed in the last kilometres. Today I thought might be a chance to maybe show myself if the condition was there. Voila, my condition was good. I was able to stay in the front group with the best guys."
Now occupying fourth on the overall standings, Alaphilippe added that he will take the race day-by-day before making any suggestions of a high overall result.
"I'm learning more and more day-by-day, and if there can be an opportunity for me in the next days, why not, we will see what I can do to protect my overall position," Alaphilippe said.