Cycling: Julian Alaphilippe is reborn on the Tour of Italy after an extraordinary raid

Cycling: Julian Alaphilippe is reborn on the Tour of Italy after an extraordinary raid

Julian Alaphilippe a désormais remporté une étape sur chaque Grand tour. EPA/ANSA – LUCA ZENNARO

Le Français Julian Alaphilippe a remporté en solitaire la 12e étape du Tour d’Italie, jeudi à Fano, en semant son compagnon d’échappée Mirco Maestri dans la dernière difficulté du jour au bout d’un raid extraordinaire de 126 kilomètres.

After months of misery, Julian Alaphilippe won the 12th stage of the Tour of Italy alone, Thursday in Fano, losing his breakaway companion Mirco Maestri in the last difficulty of the day, after an extraordinary raid of 126 kilometers.

This is the first victory for the Frenchman in almost a year and his stage success at the Critérium du Dauphiné in June 2023, and his most beautiful since his second world title in Louvain in 2021. The Soudal-Quick Step rider also became the 109th rider in history to have won a stage on the three major Tours (France, Italy and Spain).

This is also the third French victory in this 107th edition of the Giro after those of Benjamin Thomas and Valentin Paret-Peintre. "Ah that feels good!", said Alaphilippe upon arrival. The 31-year-old French puncher won at the end of a fantastic and almost unexpected ride in the company of the modest Italian rider Mirco Maestri (Polti-Kometa).

After having placed a first attack 138 miles from the goal, "Alaf" isolated himself thirteen kilometers further with Maestri. Launched into a crazy attempt, the two men worked together perfectly to keep several groups of pursuers at bay in this hilly stage ideal for breakaways. Alaphilippe finally let go of his "fuga" 11.5 km from the finish in the last wall to then resist the return of the pursuers, the Colombian Jhonatan Narvaez and the Belgian Quinten Hermans, who came to die at around thirty seconds.

The 42nd victory of his career

For the Frenchman, who is competing in his first Giro at almost 32 years old, this victory, the 42nd of his career, represents an act of rebirth after several difficult months and even years. Overwhelmed by falls, injuries and controversies with his boss Patrick Lefevere, he notably raced the Tour of Flanders in the spring with a broken knee, an injury that he initially put to rest so as not to give the impression of "making excuses".

He marks his rebirth in a country he loves and where he achieved several of his greatest successes, Milan-Sanremo and the Strade Bianche in 2019 as well as the World Championships in Imola in 2020. Slovenian Tadej Pogacar retained his leader's pink jersey on Thursday, at the end of a quiet stage for the favorites who arrived more than five minutes after the winner.

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