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Itzulia Basque Country stage 2: Julian Alaphilippe steals the stage from day-long break

World champ profits from monster Remco Evenpoel leadout, Primož Roglič retains GC lead.

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Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) stole the win on stage 2 of the 2022 Itzulia Basque Country after the peloton caught the break inside the final 400 meters.

The world road champion scored his first win of the year and put his team into the winner’s circle after a spring that has seen the team struggling to score in the cobbled classics.

“The other teams were reluctant to roll so we had to do a lot of work ourselves,” Alaphilippe said. “We’re really happy with the win.”

The remaining rider from a four-man escape — Ibon Ruiz (Kern Pharma) — looked oh-so-close to holding the big bunch, but was swallowed up at just 400m to go.

Remco Evenepoel (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) did a huge lead out for his teammate Alaphilippe in the final kilometer before the rainbow jersey emerged at the front and navigated the twists and turns in the final few hundred meters.

Evenepoel — in the polka-dotted KOM classification leader’s jersey — could be seen sitting up celebrating with 50m to go when Alaphilippe crossed the line. Fabien Doubey (TotalEnergies) and Quinten Hermans (Intermarché-Wanty) took second and third respectively.

“Few teams wanted to ride, I thought the breakaway was going to hold until the end… But in the end, the whole team did a huge job, Remco took the final corners perfectly, I couldn’t lose,” said Alaphilippe. “There were three technical corners in the last kilometer, so it had to be well placed. We said to ourselves that in the event of a sprint finish, it was what had to be done, and Remco, with his power, was able to take the turns, restart, and behind, it really stretched the peloton.”

How it happened

A four-man break was allowed plenty of leash throughout the entire stage save the final kilometer.

Through the rolling route from Leitza to Viana, the quartet’s lead ebbed and flowed several times, from more than three minutes to as few as 20 seconds.

Jumbo-Visma, in service of overall race leader Primož Roglič, led the chasing peloton seemingly without urgency though 25km to go.

On a climb at 31km, the break came apart for a short time when the foursome attacked each other, but nothing came of these few seemingly half-hearted attacks.

Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers) was never far from the front of the chase, which had come down to 2:00 at 18km to go.

Some 5km later, it was every-man-for-himself, which allowed Ibon Ruiz (Kern Pharma) to get up the road without company.

Several times the other three tried to reorganize and chase, while AG2R-Citroën took over the peloton pursuit into the final 10km

As the main bunch looked to have missed the mark in timing it’s catch, the road again tilted up, and all of a sudden they had the break in their sights.]

What had been one minute was 12 seconds at 3km to go, and then the break was absorbed just 1,000m later, with only Ruiz on the front, frantically trying to turn over his pedals in the final 2km.

With the finish line in sight, Ruiz had no more gas, and was engulfed by the chasing bunch at 400m to go.

Alaphilippe positioned himself on the front, along with the leaders of the overall, KOM, points, and young-rider classifications, before he went all-in for the win at 200m to go.

Behind, Evenepoel could be seen sitting up, in traffic, with his hands raised as he cheered for his world champion teammate.

Alaphilippe timed his winning attack to perfection in the final 200m.

Results will be available once stage has completed.

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