In the Scheldeprijs, Philipsen prevailed in a heated sprint despite Sam Bennett and Mark Cavendish combining forces. In Turkey, Deceuninck-QuickStep has reversed the situation with two stage wins out of three for the Manxman but the Belgian is not giving up yet.
“I think I had the legs to win but I wasn’t first over the line, so I’m not fully satisfied but that’s sprinting," Philipsen reacted after stage 3 in Alanya where Cavendish already won twice in the past (2014 and 2015).
"I had a bit of bad luck. If I was lucky here, I could already have two wins but I have zero win, so it doesn’t work so far. But we’ll keep on trying.”
The 23-year-old from Mol, often introduced as Tom Boonen’s successor, wasn’t initially scheduled for the trip to Central Anatolia.
“It was a last moment decision to include the Tour of Turkey in my programme because my condition is good," he said prior to stage 1 in Konya and after escaping the snow in Cappadocia where the Tour of Turkey was supposed to kick off.
"I don’t feel tired yet to have a rest. I will take a break after but I came here to win again. Deceuninck-QuickStep is certainly the team to beat in the sprints but we’ll try to beat them with our strong team of new guys for the lead-out. Israel Start-Up Nation also has a strong lead-out train.”
Alpecin-Fenix didn’t send its most experienced team to Turkey with Briton Alexander Richardson, Germans Marcel Meisen and Alexander Krieger, Belgium’s Lionel Taminiaux, Australian rookie Jay Vine and Italy’s Sacha Modolo – also a former stage winner in Alanya in 2016 – who is doing his first race of the 2021 season, but they’ve been very active in the preparation of the sprints.
“The team is good, everything goes well, I just try to get some more wins," said Philipsen, who is a newcomer after two seasons with UAE Team Emirates. During the off season, he explained that he thought Alpecin-Fenix was just the team of Mathieu van der Poel but team manager Christoph Roodhooft convinced him it was going to be much more than that.
“I’m happy with the space I found in the team and in the races," Philipsen told Cyclingnews in Alanya. “The team is very professional. We’re doing a good job. We just keep on working, it’s a really good team. After my post-Tour of Turkey break, I’ll go to an altitude training camp where my race schedule will be defined. Let’s hope I can go to the Tour de France and with a good condition, then everything is possible.”
Alpecin-Fenix accepted the automatic invitation to all three Grand Tours as the number 1 team of the Pro Continental ranks in 2020. As they aren’t exactly a band of climbers, they’re expected to shine in the first week of the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and the Vuelta a España with Van der Poel, Philipsen and also Tim Merlier who are all different types of sprinters.
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