SIENA, Italy (Reuters) - Julian Alaphilippe won the Strade Bianche one-day race on his first participation, confirming he was one of the world’s top prospects for one-day races on Saturday.
The 26-year-old Frenchman, who last year won the Fleche Wallonne and Clasica San Sebastian, beat Dane Jakob Fuglsang after an uphill sprint finish at the end of a 184-km ride around Siena peppered with gravelled road sections.
The Deceuninck-Quick Step rider followed Fuglsang’s attack in the penultimate gravelled section and perfectly timed his effort in the narrow streets of Siena to prevail on the Piazza Del Campo.
“I’m just so happy, my team did a great job today. I knew it was a good race for me,” said Alaphilippe, who gave Belgian team Decunik-Quick Step their fourth consecutive win in the 2019 classics after they claimed the Het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne and Le Samyn.
“I just had to make no mistake and I made none, I was in a good day. It was my first big goal of the season.”
Alaphilippe is with Tour de France podium finishers Thibaut Pinot and Romain Bardet, one of France’s top young riders.
Last year, he ended world champion Alejandro Avalverde’s four-year reign at the Fleche Wallonne and he is now hungry for more.
“I want to win every race that I start with a winning chance,” said Alaphilippe, who has two Tour de France stages to his name and last year won the race’s mountain classification.
Belgian Wouth van Aert took third place.
Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands earlier won the women’s race, going solo to cross the line after 136 kilometres.
“This is one of the best victories in my career. I thought after breaking my knee at the world championship that I wouldn’t have enough time to get into the right form for winning Strade Bianche,” the Mitchelton Scott rider said.
“But I’m glad it was enough time. I managed to attack exactly where I had planned to.”
Dane Annika Langvad was second and Katarzyna Niewiadoma of Poland took third place.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge