Alaphilippe spices up the World Championships
Matteo Trentin comes close to his first medal, while Fernando Gaviria makes it three Quick-Step Floors riders in the top ten.
Bergen – the venue of the World Championships this year – witnessed an exciting race unfold on Sunday afternoon, especially in the final two laps, after Belgium, with a fantastic and in-form Julien Vermote, stopped controlling the hostilities, leaving the race wide open. A plethora of attacks soon followed, but other teams stepped in each time and made sure of bringing the riders back, so it was only inside the last 15 kilometers that the first significant gaps were created.
Julian Alaphilippe was the one to bring the race to life with a strong and impressive attack on Salmon Hill (1500m, 6.4%), which left everyone else in the dust, incapable of responding. It was only on the descent that a rider, Gianni Moscon, managed to bridge across and help build a ten-second gap together with Quick-Step Floors' Frenchman.
As they left the outskirts of the city behind and approached the final four kilometers, Alaphilippe dropped the Italian on a short cobbled section and continued to power ahead, motivated by the thought of becoming the first French in two decades to win the coveted rainbow jersey. Unfortunately for the 25-year-old, his dream came to a halt with around 1500 meters remaining, when the peloton – who in the meantime got organized and started a full gas chase – brought him back.
The reduced bunch sprint was won by Peter Sagan (Slovakia), who beat home rider Alexander Kristoff and Michael Matthews (Australia), while multiple Vuelta a España stage victor Matteo Trentin came agonizingly close to a maiden World Championships podium finish, concluding the race in fourth. Fernando Gaviria was also in the mix, taking eighth, a solid result considering the long injury lay-off he had to endure in August.
Despite leaving everything out there on the road and digging deep for every ounce of energy which could have propelled him to the biggest victory of his career, it was no glory at the end of the day for Julian Alaphilippe, who completed the 267.5km-long race in tenth place. Even though it wasn't the result the young Frenchman had dreamed of, he was upbeat at the finish.
"I really gave everything. Of course, I am disappointed, but I don't have any regrets after today. I tried something from the distance, as the tempo in the final lap wasn't too high, favouring the sprinters at that point", said Julian after his fantastic energy-draining effort. "So I gave it a go on Salmon Hill and went full gas in the kilometers to the line. After getting caught, I tried to hang on to get into position for the sprint, but I didn't have too much left in the legs, so all I could do was finish tenth."
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele