Alaphilippe rides Ardennes form onto Romandie podium

Etixx-Quickstep's 22-year-old Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe continued to show his promise in the big races Wednesday with a third-place finish during stage 2 of the Tour de Romandie.

With the guidance of Tony Martin in the final kilometres, Alaphilippe finished the 166.1km stage tucked in behind winner Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge) and Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling). Rigoberto Uran also helped his teammate as the final leadout man.

“It was a good day for me and the team,” Alaphilippe said. “Early on in the race some guys of the peloton came up to tell me congratulations for my results in the Ardennes Classics. That was a great moment, to have riders like Simon Gerrans approach me with encouragement.”

In the past week, Alaphilippe finished second in both Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Attacks continued after the day's breakaway was caught with 22.7km to go, but none of them got any traction. Rein Taaramae (Astana) was the last rider able to get a gap on the field, but with Martin digging hard on the front for his young teammate, Taaramae was brought back with 2.4km remaining.

“In the last climb I suffered but I was able to pass with the peloton,” Alaphilippe said. “I was then in front with Tony and Rigo. Tony did an unbelievable job as my 'pilot' in the last kilometers. I did my sprint and I didn't make it. But OK, I'm 3rd. To be honest I'm really happy because it means after a hard week in the Ardennes I still have the top condition.

“This is another podium in another important race,” Alaphilippe said. “But this year is really about discovering everything, from the different races to the kinds of parcours. I am super happy about how I'm doing so far and what I'm learning. I'm enjoying my time at Tour de Romandie, that is for sure.”

Etixx-Quick-Step look next to Thursday's Stage 3, which features four categorized climbs over 172.5k. The summit of the final categorized climb comes with 25.1km remaining, however, before flat or descending roads lead into the slightly uphill finishing straight.

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