Julian Alaphilippe’s Tirreno-Adriatico stage victory was “not planned” on Monday in Jesi, but having the multiple options within Deceuninck-Quick-Step made it possible.
Alaphilippe appeared to be leading out team sprinter Elia Viviani, but surged ahead himself in the final uphill drag below central Italy’s hilltop town.
“No, it sure was not planned,” Deceuninck-Quick-Step sports director Wilfried Peeters explained.
“Elia Viviani maybe said, ‘I’ll come from behind’, but then he saw the situation and waited a little longer and he won.”
“It’s a surprise for me that I could put my arms up and celebrate victory,” Alaphilippe said under the podium.
“I was going to work for Elia and everything went well. I was on Mørkov’s wheel and then when I saw there was two hundred metres to go, I just gave it everything and I won.”
The team said the riders decided among themselves to fool their rivals like Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and a surging Greg Van Avermaet (CCC Team).
The strength in numbers is what allows the Belgian team to dominate the one-day races, which is good news for the upcoming Milan-San Remo.
“Alaphilippe was the last man in an arrival like this, we thought that was the best way to make the difference,” Viviani explained.
“I got in the line in the last 500m to let Sagan get in and see what I could do on his wheel because I knew that I could come from behind. I did come from behind in the end, but for the third place. Alaphilippe won, so it was a good team win.”
Alaphilippe already played off those numbers in Strade Bianche to ride clear with Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma). At Tirreno, with rivals thinking the team would lead Viviani to the finish line, Alaphilippe instead got the gap.
“It’s not only for Milan-San Remo, but the upcoming races,” Peeters continued. “In the Classics, we have more than one guy and nobody knows who the leader is. That is the big thing from the last years. We win a lot of Classics with this situation.
“We don’t have guys to make a good classification like Team Sky or Astana, we are playing for the victories and for one-day races, and that’s better for us.”
Viviani had been the protected man in the sprint to Foglino, just as he had in all major bunch sprints this season and last with the team since leaving Team Sky.
With options like Frenchman Alaphilippe, he carries a little less weight on his shoulders heading to Saturday’s Milan-San Remo.
“We have many men who can win, so you see like in San Remo, will be there with more than one person, so when you have more cards to play you have more possibilities to win,” Viviani said.
“I think that it was our winning shot because everyone thought to stay on my wheel [today] and Alaphilippe got two bike lengths’ ahead which was enough to get to the finish line for the win.”