Alaphilippe wins Strade Bianche

Julian Alaphilippe added to his rapidly growing palmarès and Deceuninck-QuickStep’s Classics dominance with victory at the 2019 Strade Bianche.

The Frenchman - who won La Flèche Wallonne, the Clásica San Sebastián, and two stages of the Tour de France last year - got the better of Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) in a dramatic tussle up the Via Santa Catarina and down into the Piazza del Campo in Siena.

The duo emerged at the head of the race as the short-but-steep final three sectors of strade bianche - the eponymous Tuscan gravel tracks that characterise the Italian race - split the elite lead group that formed on the longer earlier sectors.

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) was with them initially and, after being dropped on the 10th of the 11 sectors and spending half an hour on his own, dramatically made his way back for the final kilometre as they began to play cat and mouse. However, the Belgian, who became a full-time road rider only nine days ago, had exhausted his reserves and fell away on the steep slopes of Santa Catarina.

Fuglsang made the big attack on the short, narrow climb, and was first to the top. Alaphilippe, however, responded immediately and looked relaxed in the wheel as they made their way through the narrow twisting streets in the final few hundred metres. One dart from the Frenchman was enough to take him around the Dane in time for the final bend and subsequent drop to the line in the Piazza.

Alaphilippe raised his arms to celebrate his victory, his fourth of the season and a clear sign his rich vein of 2018 form has definitively continued into 2019. The same goes for his team, who, after Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, and Le Samyn, have won all four spring Classics so far this season.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Alaphilippe, who was riding Strade Bianche for the very first time. “I was focused all day on the finale. I was lucky to never crash nor have a flat tyre. My team did a great job in protecting me. Jakob Fuglsang was very strong, but I made no mistake. However, I wasn’t confident in winning until the last corner. This is a wonderful victory.”

Zdenek Stybar, winner of Omloop and a former winner of Strade Bianche, finished fourth from the remnants of the 15-rider selection that formed on the long, hilly seventh and eighth sectors that ignited the race for the first real time. Last year's winner Tiesj Benoot (Lotto Soudal), Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) and Alexey Lutsenko (Astan) tricked in just over a minute behind the winner, while Simon Clarke (EF Education First), Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) and Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) rounded out the top 10.

How it unfolded

The riders were happy to see blues skies shining bright over the stunning Siena skyline as they signed on in the Fortezza Medicea. Last year they were wrapped in warm clothes and capes for the cold and heavy rain but this year’s Strade Bianche was raced under spring-like conditions.

The peloton covered the first of 11 sectors of dirt roads at speed, getting a feel for the dry, dusty road surface. The first real break formed with 150km of the 184km race distance when Alexandre Geniez (AG2R La Mondiale) teammate Nico Denz, Diego Rosa (Team Sky) and Leo Vincent (Groupama-FDJ) got away on one of the steep Tuscan hills.

They quickly opened a gap, pushing their lead up to 4:00 as they climbed up to Montalcino. The average speed was a zippy 42.4km/h, with the peloton refusing to let the quartet gain too much time. The gap as down to 2:30 with 110km left to race as the longest sectors neared.

Geniez pushed the pace in the break on 11.9km sector five to Lucignano d’Asso. The peloton also upped their speed. The race was on.

Vincent slipped back and was eventually caught by the peloton as Geniez, Denz and Rosa pushed on together and passed through the feed zone under a warm Tuscan sun with 80km to race.

Strade Bianche is a stunning race but punctures are almost always fatal and Geniez lost contact when he flatted. He was 1:30 down before he could get going again as the double whammy of sector seven and eight began.

Sector seven is 9.5km long and climbs constantly to the hilltops. Rosa pushed on alone as the dirt road created a serous selection behind, reducing Rosa’s lead to 2:20. After a fast descent to the start of sector eight, Van Avermaet moved to the front and attacked over the top of climb near Monte Sante Maria with 50km to race. The views were stunning but the rides had no time or no chance to enjoy them.

The big-name contenders knew that Van Avermaet was a threat and joined his move. Tim Wellens upped the pace too, as did Yves Lampaert to help his Deceuninck-QuickStep team leaders Stybar and Alaphilippe.

Lutsenko and Fuglsang were there for Astana, Skuijns for Trek-Segafredo and Van Aert flew the flag of Jumbo-Visma. Simon Clarke (EF Education First) and Rob Power (Team Sunweb) was also there, along with surprise Romain Seigle (Groupama-FDJ).

Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) was in the first chase group, along with Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and others. Thomas needed a wheel change but the group was never likely to get back on with the strongest riders working smoothly together on the road as soon as sector eight finished.

With 36km to go, Rosa was swept up and the finale of the race began on the paved country roads back towards Siena.

Maximilian Schachmann struggled on the climbs but made a huge chasing back on with Viacheslav Kuznetov (Katusha-Alpecin). They got on but soon cracked again.

With 23km to go the final three short sectors of dirt roads reared their heads and Fuglsang was the first to attack. Van Aert quickly got on his wheel and Alaphilippe made a huge effort to join them. The group splintered behind them and the trio quickly opened a 25-second lead.

Onto sector 10, slightly longer at 2.4km but still steep, and another acceleration from Fuglsang saw Van Aert distanced and forced into his long, lonesome chase. The leading duo looked comfortable and led the way onto the final sector with just over 13km to go.

Fuglsang launched another attack but Alaphilippe, despite initially appearing sluggish, was alive to it, and the pair settled in for the run-in to Siena. Behind them, the chase group split up, with Stybar, Van Avermaet, Clarke, and the Lotto duo emerging as the strongest. However, they were 1:30 down by that point and seemingly out of the running.

At first, Alaphlippe and Fuglsang collaborated well on the run-in, keeping Van Aert at just over 30 seconds and the rest of the chase - where Clarke attacked repeatedly - at around 1:30. However, things changed in the final five kilometres. First Alaphilippe peeled off and stretched out his back and tightened his shoes alongside Fuglsang in what looked like an indicator that the mind games were beginning. They pushed on, but neither was prepared to press on wholeheartedly, and Van Aert was able to close in. He made the junction with a kilometre to go, and came flying past, until Alaphilippe caved and went after him.

Van Aert led the way as the Santa Catarina started, with Alaphilippe in the wheel, but it wasn’t long before Fuglsang launched his big attack. Alaphilippe was straight onto him and, despite cresting in second place, it was no surprise to see him spurt past the tired Dane on the narrow roads to cap another huge victory for him and his team.


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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep4:47:14
2Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team0:00:02
3Wout Van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma0:00:27
4Zdenek Štybar (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep0:01:00
5Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 4 - Cell 2
6Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Ccc Team0:01:01
7Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team0:01:04
8Simon Clarke (Aus) Ef Education First0:01:08
9Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo0:01:12
10Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:01:21
11Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep0:01:28
12Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky0:02:41
13Pieter Serry (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStepRow 12 - Cell 2
14Silvan Dillier (Swi) Ag2R La Mondiale0:02:42
15Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-Fdj0:02:44
16Marco Canola (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-FaizaneRow 15 - Cell 2
17Sam Oomen (Ned) Team SunwebRow 16 - Cell 2
18Luke Durbridge (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott0:02:47
19Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Mitchelton-Scott0:02:48
20Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Team Dimension DataRow 19 - Cell 2
21Brent Bookwalter (USA) Mitchelton-ScottRow 20 - Cell 2
22Ruben Guerreiro (Por) Team Katusha Alpecin0:02:56
23Davide Ballerini (Ita) Astana Pro Team0:02:57
24Diego Rosa (Ita) Team Sky0:03:00
25Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team0:03:06
26Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Team Katusha Alpecin0:03:09
27Romain Seigle (Fra) Groupama-Fdj0:03:17
28Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky0:06:54
29Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 28 - Cell 2
30Tadej Pogacar (Slo) Uae Team Emirates0:08:04
31Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida0:08:57
32Rob Power (Aus) Team SunwebRow 31 - Cell 2
33Nathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) Ccc Team0:09:17
34Michael Schär (Swi) Ccc TeamRow 33 - Cell 2
35Quentin Jauregui (Fra) Ag2R La MondialeRow 34 - Cell 2
36Benjamin King (USA) Team Dimension DataRow 35 - Cell 2
37Jan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain-MeridaRow 36 - Cell 2
38Sebastian Schönberger (Aut) Neri Sottoli Selle Italia KtmRow 37 - Cell 2
39Luka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain-MeridaRow 38 - Cell 2
40Hermann Pernsteiner (Aut) Bahrain-MeridaRow 39 - Cell 2
41Simone Velasco (Ita) Neri Sottoli Selle Italia KtmRow 40 - Cell 2
42Floris De Tier (Bel) Team Jumbo-VismaRow 41 - Cell 2
43Rafal Majka (Pol) Bora-HansgroheRow 42 - Cell 2
44Simone Petilli (Ita) Uae Team EmiratesRow 43 - Cell 2
45Michael Valgren Andersen (Den) Team Dimension Data0:09:24
46Dries Devenyns (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStepRow 45 - Cell 2
47Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Team Katusha AlpecinRow 46 - Cell 2
48Jai Hindley (Aus) Team SunwebRow 47 - Cell 2
49Robert Stannard (Aus) Mitchelton-ScottRow 48 - Cell 2
50Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:09:26
51Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 50 - Cell 2
52Jimmy Turgis (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B Hotels0:09:30
53Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Ccc TeamRow 52 - Cell 2
54Michal Golas (Pol) Team SkyRow 53 - Cell 2
55Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-HansgroheRow 54 - Cell 2
56Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Movistar Team0:09:44
57Antoine Duchesne (Can) Groupama-Fdj0:09:46
58Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Sky0:09:57
59François Bidard (Fra) Ag2R La MondialeRow 58 - Cell 2
60Petr Vakoc (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep0:12:05
61Jonathan Caicedo (Ecu) Ef Education First0:12:24
62Richard Carapaz (Ecu) Movistar TeamRow 61 - Cell 2
63Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Ccc Team0:12:27
64Eduard Prades Reverter (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 63 - Cell 2
65Owain Doull (GBr) Team SkyRow 64 - Cell 2
66Ben Gastauer (Lux) Ag2R La MondialeRow 65 - Cell 2
67Taco Van Der Hoorn (Ned) Team Jumbo-VismaRow 66 - Cell 2
68Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Team Dimension DataRow 67 - Cell 2
69Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) Ccc TeamRow 68 - Cell 2
70Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto SoudalRow 69 - Cell 2
71Dmitrii Strakhov (Rus) Team Katusha Alpecin0:12:32
72Tanel Kangert (Est) Ef Education FirstRow 71 - Cell 2
73Marc Hirschi (Swi) Team SunwebRow 72 - Cell 2
74Oscar Gatto (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe0:12:43
75Rasmus Fossum Tiller (Nor) Dimension Data0:12:47
76Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo0:12:49
77Nico Denz (Ger) Ag2R La Mondiale0:12:57
78Alberto Bettiol (Ita) Ef Education First0:22:54
79Nathan Haas (Aus) Team Katusha AlpecinRow 78 - Cell 2
80Damiano Cima (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizane'Row 79 - Cell 2
81Nicholas Schultz (Aus) Mitchelton-ScottRow 80 - Cell 2
82Andrea Garosio (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 81 - Cell 2
83Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar Team0:22:57
OTLChristopher Hamilton (Aus) Team SunwebRow 83 - Cell 2
OTLVegard Stake Laengen (Nor) Uae Team EmiratesRow 84 - Cell 2
OTLLawrence Naesen (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 85 - Cell 2
OTLMarkel Irizar Aramburu (Spa) Trek-SegafredoRow 86 - Cell 2
OTLZhandos Bizhigitov (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 87 - Cell 2
OTLJaco Venter (RSA) Team Dimension DataRow 88 - Cell 2
OTLLennard Hofstede (Ned) Team Jumbo-VismaRow 89 - Cell 2
OTLNicolas Roche (Irl) Team SunwebRow 90 - Cell 2
OTLEdoardo Affini (Ita) Mitchelton-ScottRow 91 - Cell 2
OTLFumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Trek-SegafredoRow 92 - Cell 2
OTLLogan Owen (USA) Ef Education FirstRow 93 - Cell 2
OTLEros Capecchi (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStepRow 94 - Cell 2
OTLNicola Conci (Ita) Trek-SegafredoRow 95 - Cell 2
OTLGiovanni Lonardi (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizane'Row 96 - Cell 2
OTLGrega Bole (Slo) Bahrain-MeridaRow 97 - Cell 2
OTLLuca Raggio (Ita) Neri Sottoli Selle Italia KtmRow 98 - Cell 2
OTLDmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana Pro TeamRow 99 - Cell 2
OTLLachlan Morton (Aus) Ef Education FirstRow 100 - Cell 2
DNFCarl Fredrik Hagen (Nor) Lotto SoudalRow 101 - Cell 2
DNFTosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 102 - Cell 2
DNFAlexandre Geniez (Fra) Ag2R La MondialeRow 103 - Cell 2
DNFNans Peters (Fra) Ag2R La MondialeRow 104 - Cell 2
DNFManuele Boaro (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 105 - Cell 2
DNFAntonio Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-MeridaRow 106 - Cell 2
DNFMaciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-HansgroheRow 107 - Cell 2
DNFGregor Mühlberger (Aut) Bora-HansgroheRow 108 - Cell 2
DNFDaniel Oss (Ita) Bora-HansgroheRow 109 - Cell 2
DNFJosef Cerný (Cze) Ccc TeamRow 110 - Cell 2
DNFSean Bennett (USA) Ef Education FirstRow 111 - Cell 2
DNFBruno Armirail (Fra) Groupama-FdjRow 112 - Cell 2
DNFTobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Groupama-FdjRow 113 - Cell 2
DNFMatthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Groupama-FdjRow 114 - Cell 2
DNFLéo Vincent (Fra) Groupama-FdjRow 115 - Cell 2
DNFCallum Scotson (Aus) Mitchelton-ScottRow 116 - Cell 2
DNFCarlos Barbero (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 117 - Cell 2
DNFJosé Rojas (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 118 - Cell 2
DNFGiovanni Visconti (Ita) Neri Sottoli Selle Italia KtmRow 119 - Cell 2
DNFLiam Bertazzo (Ita) Neri Sottoli Selle Italia KtmRow 120 - Cell 2
DNFLuca Pacioni (Ita) Neri Sottoli Selle Italia KtmRow 121 - Cell 2
DNFGiuseppe Fonzi (Ita) Neri Sottoli Selle Italia KtmRow 122 - Cell 2
DNFMoreno Moser (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizane'Row 123 - Cell 2
DNFNicola Bagioli (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizane'Row 124 - Cell 2
DNFSho Hatsuyama (Jpn) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizane'Row 125 - Cell 2
DNFJuan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizane'Row 126 - Cell 2
DNFGino Mäder (Swi) Team Dimension DataRow 127 - Cell 2
DNFNeilson Powless (USA) Team Jumbo-VismaRow 128 - Cell 2
DNFAntwan Tolhoek (Ned) Team Jumbo-VismaRow 129 - Cell 2
DNFDanny Van Poppel (Ned) Team Jumbo-VismaRow 130 - Cell 2
DNFSteff Cras (Bel) Team Katusha AlpecinRow 131 - Cell 2
DNFIan Boswell (USA) Team Katusha AlpecinRow 132 - Cell 2
DNFLeonardo Basso (Ita) Team SkyRow 133 - Cell 2
DNFAsbjørn Kragh Andersen (Den) Team SunwebRow 134 - Cell 2
DNFFabio Felline (Ita) Trek-SegafredoRow 135 - Cell 2
DNFMatteo Moschetti (Ita) Trek-SegafredoRow 136 - Cell 2
DNFFernando Gaviria Rendon (Col) Uae Team EmiratesRow 137 - Cell 2
DNFRui Costa (Por) Uae Team EmiratesRow 138 - Cell 2
DNFRoberto Ferrari (Ita) Uae Team EmiratesRow 139 - Cell 2
DNFJasper Philipsen (Bel) Uae Team EmiratesRow 140 - Cell 2
DNFYoann Bagot (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B HotelsRow 141 - Cell 2
DNFMaxime Cam (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B HotelsRow 142 - Cell 2
DNFBert De Backer (Bel) Vital Concept-B&B HotelsRow 143 - Cell 2
DNFCorentin Ermenault (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B HotelsRow 144 - Cell 2
DNFSteven Lammertink (Ned) Vital Concept-B&B HotelsRow 145 - Cell 2
DNFJustin Mottier (Fra) Vital Concept-B&B HotelsRow 146 - Cell 2

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