Following up his emphatic win at Strade Bianche last Saturday, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) continued his romp through Italy Thursday, winning Tirreno-Adriatico stage 2 in a tough sprint.
“Everything was going my way, perfect. I pushed myself full gas to the line,” he said.
Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) finished second at the end of the 195km stage to Pomarance. EF Education First’s Alberto Bettiol came home third.
After his Mitchelton-Scott team took the advantage by winning Wednesday’s stage 1 team time trial, Adam Yates moved into the overall lead by finishing fifth in the punchy finale.
“Not sure how long I’ll hold onto [the lead], but we’ll try our best and see how it goes,” said Yates. “This kind of finish doesn’t suit me down to the ground, it’s more for the punchier guys like Alaphilippe and Van Avermaet, so I’m happy with my position and we’ll just take it day by day and see what tomorrow brings.”
Throughout the day, Mitchelton-Scott rode tempo at the front of the peloton to keep the five-man breakaway in check.
With around 14 kilometers to go, the escapees were caught, thanks in part to work from Deceuninck-Quick-Step’s Elia Viviani, who was not planning to be the Belgian team’s protected rider in the finale.
Around three kilometers to go, there was a split in the bunch, provoked by Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma). Deceuninck put Zdenek Stybar in the front group of five to hedge its bets.
That escape did not pan out. The catch was made before the final kilometer, setting up a sprint finish.
Van Avermaet opened up the sprint on the gradual run to the line, but Alaphilippe proved to have a faster turn of speed, winning the stage handily.
“Yesterday we lost a lot of time,” Alaphilippe said. “So I tried to win a stage and today was a good opportunity. I pushed myself to the limit to win. I surprise myself day after day.”
On Friday, the Frenchman says his Italian teammate Viviani might be the man to race for victory.
“Tomorrow is a good day for Elia [Viviani] in the sprint,” Alaphilippe added.
Stage 3 runs from Pomarance to Foligno, a long day at 226 kilometers. Although there will be two categorized climbs in the first half, the stage profile flattens out for the final 80 kilometers, favoring a bunch sprint.