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Alaphilippe and Evenepoel combine for perfect lead out at Itzulia

Julian Alaphilippe and Remco Evenepoel celebrate after the pair combined to take stage 2 victory in Viana
Julian Alaphilippe and Remco Evenepoel celebrate after the pair combined to take stage 2 victory in Viana (Image credit: Gonzalo Arroyo MorenoGetty Images)

It was another successful QuickStep-AlphaVinyl lead out on stage 2 of Itzulia Basque Country, but not as we know it.

Rather than Michael Mørkøv leading Fabio Jakobsen or Mark Cavendish to victory, this time it was world champion Julian Alaphilippe scoring his first of the year having been led out by the team's GC leader Remco Evenepoel.

The Frenchman triumphed on the stage 2 uphill finish in Viana, he and Evenepoel speeding past the last man left from the breakaway – Kern Pharma's Ibon Ruiz – just 400 metres from the line.

Once Evenepoel, second in GC after Itzulia's opening time trial on Monday, peeled off, there was little doubt about the win, with Alaphilippe easily holding off his competition in the closing 200 metres. After the stage he praised his younger teammate for his work in an unfamiliar role.

"I knew there were still some technical corners before the finish, so you had to be well positioned. Remco took those last corners to perfection. Super," Alaphilippe said after the race.

"We told Remco what to do if it turned into a sprint. He really has the power to push on again after the corners and pull the peloton on the leash."

The work through the twisting run to the line came just in time to battle for the stage win, after a four-man break made up exclusively of home Basque riders had, 10km earlier, looked set to hold off the peloton and fight for victory.

"This really gives me a lot of pleasure," Alaphilippe said afterwards. "Not many teams wanted to help us today, so we made sure the breakaway didn't make it anyway."

Evenepoel, who was vigorously celebrating before Alaphilippe crossed the line, added that he and his team had almost given up hope of catching the break.

The quartet had enjoyed a two-minute lead heading into the closing 10km. Before long, though, the quartet began to attack each other, in the process throwing away what was potentially a stage-winning lead.

"It was close," he said. "We had kind of given up hope because it was two minutes 15km from the end, with downhill, too. We were in a lost position at one point. But it always goes until the finish line."

He noted that Alaphilippe, who dropped 44 seconds to stage winner Primož Roglič in the opening time trial after a mechanical problem, was basically unbeatable once he hit the front.

Fabien Doubey (TotalEnergies) came closest, but there was no doubt about who would take the win.

"We knew I was the only one who could do something like lead out, which worked well the last few times. To drop Julian here is a little bit like dropping Fabio Jakobsen [in a sprint].

"Nothing could really happen anymore because [the finish] was so technical. We had agreed that I would let Julian pass on the left after the turn and he passed nicely. Today we proved that we have a strong team. I even had goosebumps at the end, that we could win so easily."

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Daniel Ostanek
Daniel Ostanek

Daniel Ostanek is production editor at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired as staff writer. Before Cyclingnews, he was published in numerous publications around the cycling world, including Procycling, CyclingWeekly, CyclingTips, Cyclist, and Rouleur, among others. As well as reporting and writing news and features, Daniel runs the 'How to watch' content throughout the season.


Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France, and has interviewed a number of the sport's biggest stars, including Egan Bernal, Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, and Anna van der Breggen. Daniel rides a 2002 Landbouwkrediet Colnago C40 and his favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Vuelta a España.