Pelayo Sanchez frustrates Julian Alaphilippe on the sixth stage of the Giro

Pelayo Sanchez frustrates Julian Alaphilippe on the sixth stage of the Giro
Pelayo Sanchez frustrates Julian Alaphilippe on the sixth stage of the Giro

On the stony paths of Tuscany, the sixth stage of this Giro was the promise of a breathtaking spectacle. It happened. Between Viareggio and Rapolano Terme (located less than 30 kilometers from Siena), the peloton took the roads and paths of the Strade Bianche. So Thursday morning, when choosing a favorite, eyes were naturally turned to Tadej Pogacar. He who has won two of the last three editions of the Italian classic after solo raids of which he alone has the secret. But Pogi remained discreet, once is not customary. The other name that we were waiting for was that of Julian Alaphilippe, winner in 2019 on these same white paths. And the Frenchman did not disappoint by being on the attack on this stage. But he had to wait 100 kilometers to find himself in what would become the victorious breakaway. With him were six other names including the Australian Luke Plapp and a young Movistar rider: Pelayo Sanchez.

Pelayo Sanchez, like a big one

The Spaniard, who celebrated his 24th birthday last March, was not part of the list of those who were imagined as winners in the streets of the province of Siena. It must be said that before his success this Thursday, the young Asturian only had a stage victory in the Tour of Asturias and a success in the Trofeo Pollenca – Port d’Andratx race as a reference. Very meager compared to the double title of world champion of Julian Alaphilippe and that of Australian champion of Luke Plapp. But he was probably the one who had the least to lose. And as sometimes in this kind of situation, it is the outsider who ends up winning. “It’s incredible, I have no words to say it. It’s a crazy, crazy day. Since the start of the Giro, I was saving energy because I wasn’t in top form. I wanted to enter the breakaway, which I achieved today. But I didn’t dare dream of this victory”exclaimed the winner of the day at the end of the stage.

Julian Alaphilippe finished 2nd in this Thursday’s stage. ©LaPresse

Julian Alaphilippe, a 2nd place with a bitter taste

When it doesn’t want, it doesn’t want. Still looking for a benchmark victory since his success in the Dauphiné on June 5, 2023, the Frenchman missed out on a nice move. In this stage which suits him wonderfully, he will not be able to reproach himself for much. Except for not being able to make the difference in a sprint where he seemed to be the natural favorite given his peak speed. Alafpolak did not hide his bitterness at the end of the stage: “It hurts to come so close to victory.” Still, seeing the Frenchman back at the front is a good thing for cycling fans but also for his confidence, at its lowest since his fall in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, 2 years ago. A double disappointment therefore, because the Frenchman also had the possibility of becoming the 109th rider to register his name on the list of stage winners on the three grand tours. On Sunday, Pogi became the 108th by winning at the Sanctuario di Oropa. The victory would have been even more symbolic given that this Thursday, Patrick Lefevere had become the donor of a luxury bottle. Quite a snub when we know the more than tense relations between the boss of the Quick Step and the double world champion. After the Belgian’s inflammatory statements about Julian Alaphilippe’s wife, recently. But there is no doubt that with these legs, we should see the Frenchman at the forefront again in this Giro. For his greatest happiness and that of his boss.

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