Strade Bianche: Alaphilippe pounces on final climb to take the win

Alaphilippe denies Fuglsang in final 200 meters, extending Deceuninck-Quick-Step's winning streak.

Photo: Getty Images

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Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) timed his attack to perfection on the steep final climb into Siena to come around Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) and extend his team’s run of wins to four from four.

Alaphilippe, Fuglsang, and Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo-Visma) had gone clear on the third from last gravel sector of the race, distancing a powerful lead group. Van Aert was dropped from the trio and rode solo for nearly 20km, but staged a remarkable chase to regain contact with the lead pair in the final kilometers. However, he was outmaneuvered in the final battle on the race’s iconic Via Santa Caterina, finishing third.

“Strade Bianche was my first big goal of the year, and to win here, at my very first presence, is truly amazing”, said Alaphilippe.

In contrast to 2018’s freezing, muddy conditions, the Tuscan roads were dry and the skies were blue, with the iconic white roads ranging from loose and gravelly to hard packed and fast. The 184km course contained 11 sectors of sterrato, amounting to 60km of unpaved surface, many of which contained steep grades of up to 20 percent.

A break went away after 30km to go, with Alexandre Geniez and Nico Denz (both AG2R-La Mondiale), Diego Rosa (Sky), and Leo Vincent (Groupama-FDJ) going clear. However, as the race wore on, the group fractured, leaving just Rosa out front as the pace hotted up in the peloton in the second half of the race.

The first meaningful move was launched with 50km to go by Greg van Avermaet (CCC Team), drawing out a powerful group that included Tiesj Benoot, Tim Wellens (both Lotto-Soudal), Zdenek Stybar, Yves Lampaert (both Deceuninck-Quick-Step), Simon Clarke (EF-Education First), and Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo). The upping in pace led the group to soon catch lone-surviving breakaway man Rosa.

A second group on the road included big names such as Geraint Thomas (Team Sky) and Vicenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), but they never looked to be gaining on the leaders.

The decisive move that pulled out the lead trio was initiated on a gravel sector with 25km to go, Fuglsang punching hard off the front. Van Aert was quick to jump on his wheel, and Alaphilippe followed soon after. The trio soon forged a significant gap, and efforts by Skujins and Clarke to bridge across soon withered.

The chase group failed to work well, with the Deceuninck pair of Lampaert and Stybar stifling the pace on behalf of teammate Alaphilippe, and Lotto-Soudal men Benoot and Wellens failing to launch a concerted effort to make the catch.

Fuglsang dominated the lead trio, while Van Aert looked fatigued, and was distanced on the penultimate section of gravel. The lead pair built a lead of around 30 seconds, with Van Aert holding the chase pack at around 1:30. Eventual winner Alaphilippe looked to be racing tactically, always taking his turns, but never doing more work than required, shutting down an attack from Fuglsang on the final sterrato sector.

As the lead pair approached the final 5km, it was evident neither wanted to work, Fuglsang wary of the Frenchman’s renowned kick and explosivity which would benefit him on the 16 percent grades of the final climb. Alaphilppe initiated the mind games, slowing to tighten his shoes and stretch his back.

The slowing of the pace allowed Van Aert to confidently work his way back to the pair, regaining contact with just 2km to go. The Belgian looked to be going straight over the top of the leaders, but Alaphilippe and Fuglsang held his wheel and allowed him to lead them into the base of the Via Santa Caterina.

As the slope steepened, Fuglsang attacked, but was unable to drop Alaphilippe, and sure enough, as the gradient eased around 200m to go, the Frenchman kicked hard. Fuglsang was unable to hold on, and Van Aert was left legless and unable to respond after his solo chase.

Alaphilippe came into the Piazza del Campo solo for his victory, with Fuglsang crossing the line two seconds later. Van Aert came third at 27 seconds. Alaphilippe’s win extended his team’s winning streak to four, after victories at Omloop, Kuurne, and Le Samyn.

“In every race, others are looking at us to take the responsibility, and that’s what we did today,” said Alaphilippe. “We were with three riders in the main selection, controlled every move and did a really smart race in all the key moments. When Fuglsang went, I knew that it might be the winning move. He was very strong today, but I made no mistakes and remained confident, although it wasn’t until the final corner that I believed I could win this race, in my opinion, one of the toughest of the calendar. It’s a wonderful victory, one which makes me extremely happy and boosts my confidence ahead of Tirreno-Adriatico.”

Last weekend’s Omloop winner, Stybar, led home the chase group to take fourth, one minute behind the leader, with 2018 winner Benoot in fifth. Van Avermaet took sixth.

Strade Bianche Results

1ALAPHILIPPE JulianDeceuninck - Quick Step4:47:14
2FUGLSANG JakobAstana Pro Team0:02
3VAN AERT WoutTeam Jumbo-Visma0:27
4ŠTYBAR ZdeněkDeceuninck - Quick Step1:00
5BENOOT TiesjLotto Soudal1:00
7LUTSENKO AlexeyAstana Pro Team1:04
8CLARKE SimonEF Education First1:08
9SKUJIŅŠ TomsTrek - Segafredo1:12
10WELLENS TimLotto Soudal1:21
11LAMPAERT YvesDeceuninck - Quick Step1:28
12THOMAS GeraintTeam Sky2:41
13SERRY PieterDeceuninck - Quick Step2:41
14DILLIER SilvanAG2R La Mondiale2:42
15KÜNG StefanGroupama - FDJ2:44
16CANOLA MarcoNippo Vini Fantini Faizanè2:44
17OOMEN SamTeam Sunweb2:44
18DURBRIDGE LukeMitchelton-Scott2:47
19JUUL-JENSEN ChristopherMitchelton-Scott2:48
20KREUZIGER RomanTeam Dimension Data2:48
21BOOKWALTER BrentMitchelton-Scott2:48
22GUERREIRO RubenTeam Katusha Alpecin2:56
23BALLERINI DavideAstana Pro Team2:57
24ROSA DiegoTeam Sky3:00
25OLIVEIRA NelsonMovistar Team3:06
26KUZNETSOV ViacheslavTeam Katusha Alpecin3:09
27SEIGLE RomainGroupama - FDJ3:17
28PUCCIO SalvatoreTeam Sky6:54
29SCHACHMANN MaximilianBORA - hansgrohe6:54
30POGAČAR TadejUAE Team Emirates8:04
31NIBALI VincenzoBahrain Merida8:57
32POWER RobertTeam Sunweb8:57
33VAN HOOYDONCK NathanCCC Team9:17
34SCHÄR MichaelCCC Team9:17
35JAUREGUI QuentinAG2R La Mondiale9:17
36KING BenTeam Dimension Data9:17
37TRATNIK JanBahrain Merida9:17
38SCHÖNBERGER SebastianNeri Sottoli - Selle Italia - KTM9:17
39PIBERNIK LukaBahrain Merida9:17
40PERNSTEINER HermannBahrain Merida9:17
41VELASCO SimoneNeri Sottoli - Selle Italia - KTM9:17
42DE TIER FlorisTeam Jumbo-Visma9:17
43MAJKA RafałBORA - hansgrohe9:17
44PETILLI SimoneUAE Team Emirates9:17
45VALGREN MichaelTeam Dimension Data9:24
46DEVENYNS DriesDeceuninck - Quick Step9:24
47BATTAGLIN EnricoTeam Katusha Alpecin9:24
48HINDLEY JaiTeam Sunweb9:24
49STANNARD RobertMitchelton-Scott9:24
50KEUKELEIRE JensLotto Soudal9:26
51CATALDO DarioAstana Pro Team9:26
52TURGIS JimmyVital Concept - B&B Hotels9:30
53WIŚNIOWSKI ŁukaszCCC Team9:30
54GOŁAŚ MichałTeam Sky9:30
55BENEDETTI CesareBORA - hansgrohe9:30
56SEPÚLVEDA EduardoMovistar Team9:44
57DUCHESNE AntoineGroupama - FDJ9:46
58MOSCON GianniTeam Sky9:57
59BIDARD FrançoisAG2R La Mondiale9:57
60VAKOČ PetrDeceuninck - Quick Step12:05
61CAICEDO Jonathan KleverEF Education First12:24
62CARAPAZ RichardMovistar Team12:24
63VAN KEIRSBULCK GuillaumeCCC Team12:27
64PRADES EduardMovistar Team12:27
65DOULL OwainTeam Sky12:27
66GASTAUER BenAG2R La Mondiale12:27
67VAN DER HOORN TacoTeam Jumbo-Visma12:27
68JANSE VAN RENSBURG ReinardtTeam Dimension Data12:27
69VAN HOECKE GijsCCC Team12:27
70MARCZYŃSKI TomaszLotto Soudal12:27
71STRAKHOV DmitryTeam Katusha Alpecin12:32
72KANGERT TanelEF Education First12:32
73HIRSCHI MarcTeam Sunweb12:32
74GATTO OscarBORA - hansgrohe12:43
75TILLER RasmusTeam Dimension Data12:47
76MOLLEMA BaukeTrek - Segafredo12:49
77DENZ NicoAG2R La Mondiale12:57
78BETTIOL AlbertoEF Education First22:54
79HAAS NathanTeam Katusha Alpecin22:54
80CIMA DamianoNippo Vini Fantini Faizanè22:54
81SCHULTZ NickMitchelton-Scott22:54
82GAROSIO AndreaBahrain Merida22:54
83BETANCUR CarlosMovistar Team22:57

Results provided by ProCyclingStats.

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