Julian Alaphilippe wins the first stage of the 2018 Itzulia after a great finale, climbing Elkano with Primoz Roglic (Lotto Jumbo).
The French rider from Quick-Step Floors said this morning he was a serious candidate to win the stage. No sooner said than done. After crossing the finish line he explained that yesterday’s recon with the team had helped him to find the best spot today and be able to save its energies to place his effort at the right moment.
Alaphilippe: “I didn’t know how I would be feeling today, so I decided to ride at the front to anticipate the attacks that were coming from behind. Everybody was riding full gas but I was able to manage myself to the top. Primoz Roglic was willing to collaborate and that was a great advantage”.
The French rider also explained that he didn’t want to “make mistakes in the sprint” so he “collaborated until the last kilometer, launching its sprint at 600 m from the finish line”. “I had to be smart and ride with caution. I’m very happy that it worked”, he said. Alaphilippe is the new GC leader and will be wearing the Yellow jersey tomorrow morning for stage 2.
Alaphillipe, leads also the points classification but its maillot, the green one, will be weared tomorrow by the second classified, Primoz Roglic.
Jonathan Lastra, leads the mountain classification and tomorrow will wear the red and white jersey. The best young is Enric Mas, 4th in the general classification, and tomorrow will wear the blue jersey
An early breakaway with four riders attacked from km 3 with Ibai Salas (BBH, 66), Jonathan Lastra (CJR, 75), Aitor González (96, EUS) and Ghebreigzabhier (DDD, 143). Dario Cataldo (AST, 23) jumped from the group at km 87 with Thomas De Gendt (LTS, 112) joining the break.
The group was able to catch them with 26 km to go, just before the two last climbs of Aia and Elkano. It was actually in the last climb of Elkano, with 10 km to go when Alaphilippe and Roglic launched the final attack with Quintana on their wheel, quickly left behind.
Euskadi Murias and Burgos BH, both Professional Continental’s and riding the Itzulia for the first time have done a great job in this first stage placing one rider each in the breakaway.
Stage 2 will start tomorrow from Zarautz’s promenade to reach the finish line in Bermeo. A 166.7 km journey with four climbs: Natxitua, Almika Sollube, Jata and San Pelaio.