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Ardennes revelation Julian Alaphilippe has extended his contract with Etixx-Quick-Step for a further two years, the team announced Monday.
Alaphilippe, 22, rode to a pair of second-place results at La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, finishing ahead of team leader and reigning world road champion Michal Kwiatkowski on both occasions. He then went on to take second and third in two stages of the Tour de Romandie.
“Etixx-Quick-Step is a team where I want to spend the next two years to improve and become a better and stronger rider,” he said. “We are a team that is dedicated to success, with a big team tradition for the classics and one-day races. So in order for me to continue to grow up as a rider, I think this is the best fit.”
Team CEO Patrick Lefevere hailed the signing. A number of his top riders, including Kwiatkowski, Mark Cavendish, Tom Boonen, and Rigoberto Uran have contracts that end this season; he may lose one or more of his stars, and so the signing of a promising young talent like Alaphilippe surely reduces pressure.
“We are happy to close this agreement with Julian,” Lefevere said. “He’s a genuine guy, always happy, but also a rider with a lot of potential. He has a lot to learn, but he is willing to do so. Even we don’t know where his potential stops. So we decided to invest in him and give him time to grow up, step-by-step, surrounded by the team and our staff.”
The young Frenchman came up through Etixx’s development team, and has said that the Belgian squad was the only team that showed interest in him as he moved into the professional ranks.
“Patrick [Lefevere] trusted in me a few years ago when I was a young guy, and then I passed through the satellite team of Etixx-Quick-Step before joining the WorldTour team along with Petr Vakoc in 2014,” said Alaphilippe. “I feel right at home and want to keep this team as my home for the next two years.
“I am absolutely happy with this choice. In this team I feel I can develop in the right way, without pressure, and can learn a lot from the staff and from the riders we have on the team. I really found my place within the group. I’m an emotional guy, and I think on this team we share the same passion. We are professional, but among the riders we are good friends. There is a great atmosphere on the team”