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August 16, 2014, Omega Pharma – Quick-Step Cycling Team rider Julian Alaphilippe won the first professional race of his career on Saturday, taking the final 134.8km stage of Tour de l’Ain out of a select group. It was the third stage victory for OPQS in five days of racing. Carlos Verona, who was part of an earlier breakaway that was eventually caught by a group that included Alaphilippe, finished 3rd.
peloton/OPQS PR/James Startt
A select group of 10 riders formed inside 20 kilometers to go. Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) attempted to go solo out of that group, but was caught inside 4km to go in the stage. There was a 40″ gap at that point to a group that included Bert-Jan Lindeman (Rabobank Development Team) in the race lead. The group that included Alaphilippe and Verona was left to decide the stage, and Alaphilippe was able to go on his own and get the victory.
The young Frenchman’s victory gave OP-QS their third stagw victory to go with the two stages Gianni Meersman already won at the Tour de l’Ain. Mark Cavendish, recovering from his Tour de France crash and surgery played a key role in Meersman’s lead out train during stages 1 and 3.
“Of course I’m super happy as it’s the first victory as a professional,” Alaphilippe said. “It’s a kind of dream to win in France as a French rider. It gives me an explosion of joy, this victory. Today we stayed really concentrated in the first part of the peloton. We knew that AG2R – La Mondiale would control the race. We knew also Verona was in the breakaway, which was perfect for us. Then in the final, Dan Martin attacked about 7 or 8 kilometers from the finish. I stayed focused and in the first part of the group because I knew Romain Bardet wanted to go for the GC. So I waited for the right moment. Then at 3 kilometers to go, at the top of the small climb, I attacked and I went full gas. In the end, I won. Also, with this victory I took the jersey as best young rider and the points jersey from the shoulders of Gianni Meersman. So, I kept the points jersey in the team and that gives me satisfaction. I’m thrilled also because this week with the team I learned a lot. It was a great experience. I learned about tactics to defend the GC with Gianni in yellow. I also learned in the leadout train when I worked with Cav for the winning sprints of Gianni. Of course I learned on the climbs too. I learned how to stay with Rigoberto Uran as long as I could when the roads went uphill. Then on the last stage I took my possibility, and went for the victory. Really it was five days of racing I’ll never forget in my life.”