Julian Alaphilippe played with his rivals to ride to Strade Bianche victory on Saturday (March 9).
Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) celebrated his first WorldTour win of the season in Siena ahead of Jakob Fuglsang ( Astana) in second and Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) in third.
"We were three strong riders from the team in the final so we could play with the others, and in the end I was on a good day," the Frenchman said. "It was my first big goal and I'm really happy."
The team still had Yves Lampaert, 2015 winner Zdenek Stybar and Alaphilippe in the final. Alaphilippe and Van Aert followed an attack by Fuglsang at 23.2km remaining. They dropped Van Aert, who was also third in 2018, but saw him return for the final kilometre.
"Wout was really strong, but Jakob was also really hard to beat so I tried to play smart in the final, waiting as long as possible the last kilometre," Alaphilippe added.
"And yes when Wout came back, I was really focused on the final part of the climb. And I'm really happy to win."
Van Aert faded when the final Santa Caterina climb into the city began. Fuglsang tried to drop Alaphilippe with a few strong digs, but Alaphilippe rode free to victory in Piazza del Campo.
His win backs up the three last week by Deceuninck - Quick-Step at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and Le Samyn.
"We always have pressure, everybody looks at Deceuninck - Quick-Step team. Everybody puts the responsibilities on my team because we win a lot, so today we take again our responsibility," Alaphilippe said.
He is on fire this early season with two stage wins in the Vuelta a San Juan and one in Tour Colombia.
"For sure [it's a big win]. I'm just so happy, it was my first big goal of the season," he continued.
"Even if the start of the season was good already, here was my first big goal, so to win it is just incredible.
"My team did a great job and I played smart with the others. I was luckily, without a crash, without a flat tyre. Voila, good job from my team-mates. I was on a good day so I'm just happy."
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