Alaphilippe agrees to new two-year contract with Quick-Step Floors

While Quick-Step Floors remain tight-lipped about Marcel Kittel's future at the team, they have confirmed that Julian Alaphilippe has extended his contract for two more years.

The Quick-Step Floors team announced on Tuesday that Bob Jungels had signed a new contract, with Philippe Gilbert and Fernando Gaviria also expected to stay with the Belgian WorldTour team in 2018. Kittel has been widely linked to the Katusha-Alpecin team after his five stage victories at the Tour de France, while Dan Martin is also considering several options after his sixth place overall. Matteo Trentin is expected to join Orica-Scott for 2018, while hard-working domestique Julian Vermote is also expected to move to Dimension Data to help Mark Cavendish.

Team manager Patrick Lefevere has said he is close to confirming his sponsors for 2018 but no new sponsors are expected to come on board, making it difficult for him to retain the services of all his star riders.

25 year-old Alaphilippe came through Quick-Step Floors' development squad and stepped up to WorldTour level in 2014. He has since confirmed his ability in the hilly Classics, with second place in the 2015 Liege-Bastogne-Liege and third at this year's Milan-San Remo after attacking on the Poggio with Peter Sagan and eventual winner Michal Kwiatkowski. He also won the 2016 Tour of California.

Alaphilippe beat Alberto Contador to win the time trial stage at Paris-Nice. He wore the leader's yellow jersey for three days and went on to finish fifth overall. He was due to target the Ardennes Classics and the Tour de France but his season was disrupted by a pre-patellar lesion knee injury at the Vuelta al País Vasco in April. He only recently returned to racing and is in action at this week's Vuelta a Burgos.

"It was always my goal to stay with the team. For me, continuing with Quick-Step Floors is the perfect scenario. I've made many good friends here and I feel at home, it's basically my second family," Alaphilippe said in statement from the Quick-Step Floors team.

"The support I have from both Patrick and the team gives me a lot of confidence. Extending my contract means I can focus 100 per cent on the important things and continue my progression. We have a really strong team that can do well in almost every race, so I could not be more pleased with where I am. This motivates me to get many other great results with this fantastic team."

Lefevere explained why he opted to keep Alaphilippe for 2018.

"We signed with him three and a half years ago, as we saw a bright future in him and believed we could help him become even better and reach his goals. Since then, Julian has grown a lot and we are only confident he has not reached his full potential," the experienced Belgian manager said.

"As with every rider we sign, we think he has a great future ahead of him and we believe we can win with him, and it's no exception with Julian."

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