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Quick-Step’s “Wolfpack” keeps on rolling

With Julian Alaphilippe in yellow and Elia Viviani winning his first Tour stage, the team known as the "Wolfpack" continues to dominate.

NANCY, France (VN) — “It’s all about the team,” says Deceuninck-Quick-Step after two successful days in the biggest race of them all, the Tour de France.

Just 24 hours after Julian Alaphilippe won stage 3 solo and took the race leader’s yellow jersey, Elia Viviani won his first Tour stage in Nancy. It was Alaphilippe who took the front of the speeding peloton in the closing kilometers in his yellow jersey, pulling the group before Michael Mørkøv took over, giving Viviani his chance.

“The team did a prefect job,” team boss Patrick Lefevere said. “They also did it the first day, but then [Viviani] lost his teammates and sh– happens… I’m happy because two wins in the first four days is amazing.”

Viviani won the Olympic gold medal in the 2016 track omnium, and he’s won stages in both the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España. But a Tour stage was missing.

“It is all about the team,” Viviani said. “I have a strong team around me who believes so much in me, and they delivered a perfect lead-out. 90 percent was [due to] the team. That was important and for me, so special to see the yellow jersey lead-out.”

Viviani left Team Sky to join Lefevere’s team because he was not getting a chance to race in grand tours. Deceuninck-Quick-Step took him to the Giro, where he won four stages and the points jersey in 2018. He then followed that with three Vuelta stage wins.

“[A Tour stage] was the only win I missed, so this was the big goal of the season,” continued Viviani. “I’m really happy, I’m emotional. All the work you do always pays off with one win like that one. I feel at the top now.”

After sprinter Fernando Gaviria transferred from Quick-Step to UAE-Team Emirates, Viviani had a clear path to race the Tour in 2019. After his win in the Giro this year, which was later taken away when the Italian was penalized for irregular sprinting, Viviani prepared for the Tour with redemption on his mind.

“That’s why we took him here,” Lefevere said, when asked if the weight was now lifted from Viviani’s shoulders. “The main goal of the year was the Tour de France. He did the Giro before, but that wasn’t a correct decision, the victory was stolen from him there. He had it in his head, he wanted to absolutely win the first stage of the Tour and have the jersey. It didn’t happen.”

In stage 1, Viviani lost the wheel of his lead-out man Maximiliano Richeze and, with it, a rare chance to wear the yellow jersey.

“I saw my error on the first stage, I lost the wheel of Max and lost the chance to get in the yellow jersey, but you learn. I wasn’t aggressive enough, and it was a hard finish, and that all served me for today,” Viviani said. “I hope [there are more wins to come], but at the moment, we are just thinking about defending the yellow jersey with Julian. He worked so much for me and now I want to help him keep it. Stage 6 will be hard to get over, but stage 7 is a chance for me. Already, though, these two days are amazing for the team.”