Alaphilippe has been the outstanding rider this season with eight victories, including Milan-San Remo, but Van der Poel, the 24-year-old cyclo-cross world champion, has stormed onto the road in his first spring classics campaign, with victory at Dwars door Vlaanderen and fourth place at the Tour of Flanders and Gent-Wevelgem.
The pair went head-to-head at Brabantse Pijl on Wednesday, where Van der Poel left the more experienced Alaphilippe to win the sprint from the select four-man group. They will lock horns again at Amstel Gold Race on Sunday.
“I was happy for him,” Alaphilippe said ahead of the Dutch Classic. “I do not know him personally, we have not ridden against one another much, but I have followed him a bit because I like cyclo-cross. It’s a pleasure to see him doing well in ‘cross and now doing it as well on the road. What he’s doing is a good thing for cycling.”
Ahead of the spring, Van der Poel’s director at the Corendon-Circus team said the Classics would be a ‘playground’ for Van der Poel, and indeed he has not been shy to attack and open the race from distance, despite his inexperience. At Brabantse Pijl he but in a couple of big attacks way out, and still had the strength to make the final selection and then win the sprint from it.
“I love his way of racing. He is a phenomenon. More than a ‘crosser, he’s someone who can do everything well. I’m happy he’s now also on the road,” Alaphilippe said.
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