Strade Bianche’19: Alaphilippe Emerges From The Dust!
Race Report: What can stop the Deceuninck – Quick-Step team? Just when you think the Belgian ‘Super Team’ will take a weekend off, they come back with the win in the Strade Bianche with Julian Alaphilippe crossing the line first. Astana’s Jakob Fuglsang was second and Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), like 2018, was third.
His first Strade Bianche ride – And the win
Julian Alaphilippe won the Strade Bianche 2019. The Frenchman won with a strong move with Jakub Fuglsang and Wout van Aert, with whom he had attacked from the peloton, 20 kilometers from the finish.
Many were looking at Wout Van Aert
Dry and dusty was the forecast
The white gravel roads were dry this year after 2018’s mud bath. The dusty course passes through the old cypresses and new olive trees for possibly the most beautiful of the Classics. For sure the youngest one-day race on the WorldTour and could just be the sixth monument of the season.
Four riders were looking for the early glory in the Tuscan race: Nico Denz and Alexandre Geniez (AG2R-La Mondiale), Leo Vincent (Groupama-FDJ) and Diego Rosa (Sky) formed the first leading group, their lead increased to 5 minutes. For a long time the four were held at that gap, until the sectors of Lucignano d’Asso and Pieve e Salti, the fifth and sixth gravel sections of the day, then the peloton revved up to pull them back down to 2 minutes.
With a 100 kilometers remaining the pace shot up at the front to hold the chasers at bay. Geniez and Vincent were dropped, although with Geniez it was a puncture, for Vincent it was his legs. Denz and Rosa raced on together.
Rosa was the strongest of the break
It was clear that the Rosa in the leading group was the strongest. Before the main action started in the peloton behind, Rosa went for a long solo, and with 60 kilometers to go, he had a 2 minute lead on a heavily depleted peloton.
It wasn’t Nibali’s day
On the 8th gravel strip of the day, the sector named after Fabian Cancellara, with less than 50 kilometers to go, it was the Belgians who decided to attack. Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) and Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) split the race apart and caused an elite group with the expected big names. Missing was: Vincenzo Nibali, Bauke Mollema and Geraint Thomas.
Greg Van Avermaet split the race
Tiesj Benoot, Wellens, Jakub Fuglsang, Alexey Lutsenko, Van Avermaet, Zdenek Stybar, Julian Alaphilippe, Yves Lampaert, Albert Bettiol, Simon Clarke, Romain Seigle, Wout van Aert, Robert Power and Toms Skujins soon caught Rosa, then the real race began.
Vyacheslav Kutnetsov and Maximilian Schachmann managed to cross to the leading group, but not for long. It was Fuglsang who made the decisive more taking Van Aert and Alaphilippe with him.
The chasers must have seen the power in the three escapes as they soon lost more than half a minute. The attack and speed must have cost Van Aert just a little too much, because the sector Colle Pinzuto was too much for the Belgium and Fuglsang and Alaphilippe distanced him.
The two front-runners were now fighting for the victory. The half-minute lead on stubborn Van Aert remained stable, while the chase behind dropped to over a minute and a half. Fuglsang attacked on the steep final climb to Piazza del Campo and then attacked again 6 kilometers further on, but Alaphilippe immediately closed him down. Due to these attack, both eased off slightly allowing Van Aert to rejoin them at the front.
There wasn’t much left in the legs of the Jumbo-Visma rider and he lost nearly 30 seconds in the finalé to finish 3rd again for the second time in a row.
The final climb to the finish
Fuglsang managed to keep a hold of Alaphilippe on the steep final climb. Then in the last 300 meters Alaphilippe put in the final blow, giving the Frenchman and his Deceuninck – Quick-Step team yet another victory.
It was just too much for Van Aert
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step): “This is unbelievable that I win Strade Bianche at my first participation. 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.”
Strade Bianche 2019 podium
Strade Bianche Result:
1. Julian Alaphlipppe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep in 4:47:14
2. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana at 0:02
3. Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma at 0:27
4. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck – Quick-Step at 1:00
5. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal
6. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC at 1:01
7. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana at 1:04
8. Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First at 1:08
9. Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo at 1:12
10. Tim Wellens (Bel) Loto Soudal at 1:21
11. Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:01:28
12. Geraint Thomas (GB) Sky at 2:41
13. Pieter Serry (Bel) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
14. Silvan Dillier (Swi) AG2R-La Mondiale at 2:42
15. Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama-FDJ at 2:44
16. Marco Canola (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizane
17. Sam Oomen (Ned) Sunweb
18. Luke Durbridge (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott at 2:47
19. Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Mitchelton-Scott at 2:48
20. Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Dimension Data
21. Brent Bookwalter (USA) Mitchelton-Scott
22. Ruben Guerreiro (Por) Katusha-Alpecin at 2:56
23. Davide Ballerini (Ita) Astana at 2:57
24. Diego Rosa (Ita) Sky at 3:00
25. Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar at 3:06.