'This is the reward for a lot of work': Julian Alaphilippe flying high on incredible form

The Frenchman has continued to shine after a breakthrough 2018 season

Julian Alaphilippe says recent victories are reward for his hard work (Photo: Yuzuru SUNADA)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) says he is reaping the rewards for his hard work, after he took victory on Tirreno-Adriatico stage two.

The Frenchman pushed ahead of Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team) at the end of the technical uphill finish in Tuscany.

The win came on the heels of his Strade Bianche victory in nearby Siena on Saturday and takes him to five wins this season.

"I want to just enjoy the moment, it's not like this every time," he said.

"I got a lot of second places, third places, fifth places before winning  races like that, so I can tell you I really enjoy it.

"It's the reward of a lot of work. I was never that strong in my head, so it's helped me to win like that."

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Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) was the victor the last time Tirreno-Adriatico finished in Pomarance in 2017. This time the Welshman finished over a minute back as he builds for the Tour de France.

Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) took the blue leader's jersey after his fifth place ride on stage two and his team's win in the stage one team time trial.

Alaphilippe's amazing 2019 run follows a breakthrough last season, when he won two stages  and the mountain's jersey in the Tour de France, the Tour of the Basque Country and Tour of Britain overall. He also claimed one-day races Flèche Wallonne and Clásica San Sebastián.

His haul contributed to the team's 73 victories for 2018 - the most of any WorldTour team. The Belgian super team already counts 16 wins this season.

Of those, Alaphilippe collected two stages in the Vuelta a San Juan, one in Colombia, Strade Bianche, and now Tirreno-Adritico's stage in Pomarance.

"And we have strong group in the team with young talent strong riders with experience and we continue to work hard and win," he continued.

"It might be difficult to reach the same level [as 2018]. It was an incredible season for the team and for me, but we've started in same way. I'm just so happy."

With Elia Viviani, Alaphilippe will help lead the Deceuninck - Quick-Step team in Milan-San Remo next Saturday.

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After finishing third behind Michał Kwiatkowski and Peter Sagan in 2017, Alaphillippe returns to the Classic stronger and more experienced for 2019.

"My shape is better than two or three years ago. It was really special to finish on podium of Milan-San Remo on my first ride, I still have good memories. But I feel like a different rider, I've got more experience and I'm calmer. I'm stronger physically and mentally. Really different for me for sure," he said.

"Now I want to focus on this week, I've still got good things to do here,  and we'll see about Milan-San Remo.

"It's a completely different race to Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico. You need to be good in a good place, with strong legs, after seven hours on the bike. We'll see if things all go my way, I just want to do the best I can with my team. We have different cards to play, we'll see."

Alaphilippe potentially has two more chances to win in this 2019 Tirreno-Adriatico. After a sprint day tomorrow in Foglino, the race climbs through the Apennine Mountains for more punchy stages.

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