Julian Alaphilippe will return to competition after a five-month break to recover from mononucleosis (glandular fever) at the Tour Cycliste International La Provence tomorrow. The 23-year-old had a breakthrough season last year, taking second place in both Liège - Bastogne - Liège and Flèche Wallonne, and second place overall and the best young rider jersey at the Tour of California.
Alaphilippe was not able to regain his form from the first half of last season, suffering through the Quebec and Montreal WorldTour events and the World Championships before being diagnosed with the viral disease.
He was forced to take an extended break from training, but returned in time for the Etixx-Quickstep team camp in January.
He will head into the three-day UCI 2.1-ranked event with the aim of regaining the racing rhythm.
"I'm happy to return to competition, to ride alongside my teammates and enjoy again that unique feeling racing gives you. It's something that I've missed a lot," Alaphilippe said. "Last time I raced was at the World Championships, in September, and on Tuesday will be fantastic to pin again a number to my jersey.
"Concerning my condition, I don't know where I find myself at the moment, but I will get an idea about it this week. The important thing is that I feel better and that I'll add some kilometers under my belt."
Etixx – Quick-Step for Tour La Provence: Julian Alaphilippe, Maxime Bouet, Fernando Gaviria, Davide Martinelli, Pieter Serry, Petr Vakoč, Martin Velits, Carlos Verona.