Alaphilippe signs contract extension with Etixx-QuickStep

Fresh from a fine showing at the Ardennes Classics, where he finished second at both Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Julian Alaphilippe has signed a two-year contract extension with Etixx-QuickStep that will keep him at the team until the end of 2017.

Alaphilippe turned professional with the squad last year, having previously ridden for its feeder team, Etixx-IHNed. The Frenchman enjoyed a solid 2014 before enjoying a breakout Classics campaign this year, where he also finished seventh at Amstel Gold Race while helping teammate Michal Kwiatkowski to victory.

"In this team I feel I can develop in the right way, without pressure, and can learn a lot from the staff and from the riders we have on the team. I really found my place within the group," Alaphilippe said.

"Etixx - Quick-Step is a team where I want to spend the next two years to improve and become a better and stronger rider. We are a team that is dedicated to success, with a big team tradition for the Classics and one-day races. So in order for me to continue to grow up as a rider, I think this is the best fit."

Alaphilippe was one of a number of riders at Etixx-QuickStep whose contract was due to expire at the end of this season. World champion Michal Kwiatkowski, Mark Cavendish, Rigoberto Uran, Zdenek Stybar and Tom Boonen have all yet to sign contracts for 2016 and team manager Patrick Lefevere admitted to Het Nieuwsblad recently that it would be difficult to hold on to all of his star names.

In a statement released by the team on Monday, Lefevere hailed the new deal with the 22-year-old Alaphilippe, adding that the youngster has yet to discover his limits.

"We are happy to close this agreement with Julian," Lefevere said. "He's a genuine guy, always happy, but also a rider with a lot of potential. He has a lot to learn, but he is willing to do so. Even we don't know where his potential stops. So we decided to invest in him and give him time to grow up, step-by-step, surrounded by the team and our staff."

Alaphilippe will be joined on the Etixx-QuickStep team next year by two more promising youngster, the Colombian pairing of Fernando Gaviria and Rodrigo Contreras. Gaviria beat Cavendish to win two stages of the Tour de San Luis in January before winning the omnium at the Track World Championships in Paris the following month.

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