Alaphilippe gains time on Paris-Nice stage 1
The Frenchman was on the right side of the peloton in Meudon, where splits occurred leading to unexpected time gaps.
Julian Alaphilippe safely navigated through a rain-soaked opening stage of Paris-Nice and finished sixth, mixing it up with the sprinters and the other puncheurs on a tough 1900m-long climb which featured after 133 eventful kilometers that had everything, from crashes and splits in the peloton to GC contenders losing minutes or even abandoning on a day that didn't announce much at the start.
Quick-Step Floors was the team to take the reins in the peloton once three men got clear and constantly kept them in check, before making the catch in the outskirts of Meudon, which hosted a Paris-Nice stage finish for the first time in history. Brought at the front by his teammates, Julian Alaphilippe remained attentive as more and more riders began to show their intentions on the 6% slopes of the third-category climb and opened his sprint with 300 meters to go.
Unfortunately for the best young rider of the previous edition, the cobbles which spiced up the finale and the inclement weather left their mark over his result, and Julian got sixth, same time as winner Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ). The good news for the 25-year old was that the bunch fragmented on the pavé, and he was among the few to win seconds which could turn out to be vital next Sunday, when the race will conclude on the Promenade des Anglais.
"I wanted to try to get the win today, but I was not feeling super good, the combination of cold temperatures and rain taking its toll on me, especially in the final where I had nothing left in the legs to sprint. I want to thank to the whole team, who did a fantastic job as always, keeping me safe and the breakaway under control. Although I wanted more today, I am just happy none of our guys went down in crashes and that we didn't lose time in the GC and even took some seconds."
After the stage, Julian watched in the team bus the final minutes of Dwars door West-Vlaanderen, where countryman Rémi Cavagna soloed to his maiden pro win: "We didn't get the victory today in France, but fortunately Rémi made up for that in Belgium with a nice first pro win. That got us heated up in the bus after the race. Despite the cold today, the feeling is good and we look forward to a good week of racing!"
Photo credit: ©Bryn Lennon/ Getty Images