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As he continues on the comeback trail after his serious crash at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Julian Alaphilippe is a winner again.
The Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl racer won the opening stage of the Tour de Wallonie Saturday. He finished ahead of Alex Aranburu (Movistar Team) and Robert Stannard (Alpecin-Deceuninck) on the Mur de Huy after a 174.4-kilometer day that started in Temploux.
The steep climb in Huy is proving a favorite for the world champion. Alaphilippe has already won three editions of the Flèche Wallonne there.
“I’m really happy. I was very excited this morning at the thought of being back with the guys in a competition again after our training camp in Livigno,” Alaphilippe said after the podium ceremony. “I had a lot of motivation knowing I would finally resume racing and was very confident, because I had a strong team around me, and together we prepared a solid plan for today.
“We controlled the race from the beginning with Iljo [Keisse], then the others stepped in in the final part of the stage and they too did a great job, and that’s why I want to thank them all.”
“I’m delighted that I had the legs to finish the day in the most beautiful way possible. The Mur de Huy is always a difficult finish and it’s never easy to win here, you feel the pain with every meter.
“The fact that I lead the general classification is a bonus, but I just want to take it day by day and focus on every stage before thinking of the overall. I am just happy to have tasted victory again after a long time.”
It is his second triumph of the season, after winning a stage of Itzulia Basque Country in April.