The 31-year-old Frenchman was once again Soudal Quick-Step’s top finisher.
Julian Alaphilippe finished outside the top ten the last Canadian race of the weekend, but the character, determination and amazing fighting spirit displayed on Sunday augur well for the remaining races of the season, the first of which will be the Tour de Luxembourg.
Unlike Friday, the Montreal event was much tougher – a combination of low temperatures and rain, hard tempo and longer hills thinning out the peloton long before the final laps, where the race was ignited. An untimely mechanical meant that Julian had to spend a lot of energy to join the bunch just as the tempo increased at the front and riders began getting dropped. The two-time World Champion, ninth in Quebec a few days ago, paid for his incredible efforts and lost contact with the select group on the longest ascent of the race, but staying true to his nature he fought tooth and nail to make it back.
Another fierce acceleration put the Frenchman again a bit in trouble just as he was finding his place in the group, this time with ten kilometers to go, when they started the penultimate climb of the day; despite seeing the gap to those in front open to a couple of seconds, Alaphilippe didn’t give up and almost bridged across again, only the uphill drag to the line preventing him from concluding the race in the top ten.
“It was a very fast race from the beginning, and we were among the teams who tried to make it hard with Mauro, who did a great job. I tried my best, but in the end, it was the legs that made the selection. My form isn’t fantastic yet, but it was really nice to see I can feature in the finale of a race this hard. This gives me confidence that a victory could come soon”, said Julian before traveling back to Europe.
Photo credit: ©Dario Belingheri / Getty Images