Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-QuickStep) claimed victory at the Faun-Ardèche Classic, beating David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) in a two-up sprint after they had escaped on the climb of Saint-Romain-de-Lerps with a shade under 30km to go.
The French pair collaborated smoothly on the run-in, which included the short, sharp ascent of the Côte de Val d’Enfer, and they had a buffer of more than half a minute on the scattered chasers as they approached the finish in Guilherand-Granges.
Alaphilippe was forced to lead out the sprint, but the two-time world champion had more than enough speed to see of Gaudu and land his first victory of the 2023 season. Mathias Skjelmose (Trek-Segafredo) beat Victor Lafay (Cofidis) in the sprint for third at 31 seconds, while Romain Gregoire (Groupama-FDJ) took fifth at 43 seconds.
It was a timely triumph form Alaphilippe in the wake of manager Patrick Lefevere’s criticism over the winter, not to mention the travails of the rest of Soudal-QuickStep’ cobbled Classics team at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday afternoon.
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“It’s a feeling I’d been missing, I was really determined to win. I worked a lot in recent weeks to be in condition here and this justified that work,” said Alapahilippe, who hadn’t raced since starting his season at the Challenge Mallorca in late January.
Alaphilippe lined up at the Ardèche Classic among the favourites, though a deep field also included Romain Bardet (DSM), Michael Woods (Israel Premier Tech), Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) and the Bora-Hansgrohe duo of Jay Vine and Sergio Higuita.Rémi Cavagna’s […]
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