“I’m used to having a lot of expectations around me. I will continue to do what I have always done“, replies the one who assures that his boss has not shared his thoughts directly with him. Yes, Julian Alaphilippe knows that he has not had an “easy season”, without, moreover, that he cannot be recognized guilty as he crashed at Strade Bianche and Liège and illness rarely left him alone.
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This was the case again at the end of July with the Covid. This put a stop to his return to the fore after his victory at the Mur de Huy on the first stage of the Tour de Wallonie. The following were races where he did not shine. But he knew it before participating. “I never lost my spirits even if there were more complicated momentshe admits. Of course when you have the jersey of world champion and you take ‘volleys’ on races a little less raised than the Vuelta for example, it’s easy to criticize“It’s his nature as a show runner that creates a lot of pressure around him.
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“When I get back on the bike, people expect me to win all the time, everywhere, so it comes down to expectations around me. It’s not easy not to be 100%, even more so with this world champion jersey. I do my best, I know that I am professional, that I always have the grinta and the motivation to shine and it will start in the Vuelta. ” Motivated Julian Alaphilippe? Obviously. Happy, too, to be there at the start of a great race, those that make him vibrate.
Alaphilippe overall leader on Friday?
Once is not custom, his Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl training will have a double objective at the start of this great tour in the Netherlands: the stages of course, the habit of the house (2 on the Tour de France) but also the general with Remco Evenepoel. “It’s not complicated to have two goals“, calms the double world champion. He himself can sometimes play his card, sometimes help the one he is very close to within the Belgian pack. As for the staff, Alaphilippe is obviously eyeing the stages in the Basque Country (4th , and 5e) “typed punchers” in the words. But he warns that he is not “100% yet” and that the Vuelta is “long and difficult“.
It starts this Friday with a timed event where he himself is not one-armed. His team, since it will be a collective event, can shine and hope to win. Yellow jersey of the last three grand tours he has contested (Tour de France 2019, 2020 and 2021), can Alaphilippe have believed in the red overcoat of the leader of the Tour of Spain? Yes, obviously. Especially since its leader, Remco Evenepoel, felt that he would not be “shocking“to see a rider other than him cross the line first. Seeing a Julian Alaphilippe in red from the first stage would be anything but a bad communication operation for Patrick Lefevere.
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