Strade Bianche: Julian Alaphilippe leads Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl

Frenchman starts as a major favorite for the iconic dirt road race in Italy.

Photo: Getty Images

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World champion Julian Alaphilippe will lead the line for Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl in Saturday’s much anticipated Strade Bianche.

Alaphilippe, who won the race in 2019 and finished second to Mathieu van der Poel last spring, has yet to add a win to his account this calendar year, but the French rider was a consistent presence at the front of the race in February’s Tour de Provence.

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The 29-year-old finished inside the top 10 on all four days of the French stage race and backed that up with fifth at Drôme Classic last weekend.

With van der Poel still making his way back from injury, and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) skipping the race altogether, Alaphilippe will start as one of the main favorites when the race starts and finishes in Siena.

Joining Alaphilippe on the start line will be Tour of Flanders champion Kasper Asgreen and Louis Vervaeke. The latter was in fine form in the recent Volta ao Algarve where he helped set up Remco Evenepoel for the overall win.

“Strade Bianche is a race we love, one of the most beautiful and toughest on the calendar,” sports director David Bramati said in a team press release on Tuesday.

“We were always protagonists there and the team is motivated to do it again and get a good result Saturday, when we’ll be at the start with a solid squad. We are proud to have the world champion in our ranks, it will be great to see the rainbow jersey on those roads, and this only adds to the motivation we have”, said sports director Davide Bramati.”

There’s no place on the Quick-Step roster for former winner Zdeněk Štybar but Dries Devenyns, Mikkel Honoré, Mauro Schmid, and Pieter Serry all make the cut.

Tom Pidcock is set to lead a strong Ineos Grenadiers team and the young British rider has made no secret of his ambition to win the race. Magnus Cort (EF Education-EasyPost), Jakob Fuglsang (Israel-Premier Tech), Sepp Kuss (Jumbo Visma), Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal), and Matej Mohoric (Bahrain Victorious) are among the other pre-race contenders.

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