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Alaphilippe and Elegant-QuickStep explore Tour of Flanders parcours - Gallery

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Alaphilippe surveys his new surroundings

Alaphilippe surveys his new surroundings (Image credit: Wout Beel)
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Alaphilippe is expected to thrive on the steep bergs

Alaphilippe is expected to thrive on the steep bergs (Image credit: Wout Beel)
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Belgian domestique Tim Declercq with Alaphilippe and Devenyns

Belgian domestique Tim Declercq with Alaphilippe and Devenyns (Image credit: Wout Beel)
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The riders test themselves on the numerous cobbled climbs

The riders test themselves on the numerous cobbled climbs (Image credit: Wout Beel)
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The riders tackle the Hotondberg

The riders tackle the Hotondberg (Image credit: Wout Beel)
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Alaphilippe gets his head down

Alaphilippe gets his head down (Image credit: Wout Beel)
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Julian Alaphilippe will race Flanders in the rainbow jersey

Julian Alaphilippe will race Flanders in the rainbow jersey (Image credit: Wout Beel)
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Zdenek Stybar leads Alaphilippe up the Oude Kwaremont

Zdenek Stybar leads Alaphilippe up the Oude Kwaremont (Image credit: Wout Beel)
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The Taaienberg features smooth gutters but Alaphilippe opts for the cobbles

The Taaienberg features smooth gutters but Alaphilippe opts for the cobbles (Image credit: Wout Beel)
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The team takes stock on one of the wide road sections

The team takes stock on one of the wide road sections (Image credit: Wout Beel)
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Yves Lampaert is one of the team's experienced Flandriens

Yves Lampaert is one of the team's experienced Flandriens (Image credit: Wout Beel)
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The Flanders parcours takes in narrow farm lanes between the cobbles and climbs

The Flanders parcours takes in narrow farm lanes between the cobbles and climbs (Image credit: Wout Beel)
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Devenyns and Alaphilippe on the rough surface of the Molenberg

Devenyns and Alaphilippe on the rough surface of the Molenberg (Image credit: Wout Beel)
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Dries Devenyns, Alaphilippe's key ally, gets a call-up to the Flanders squad

Dries Devenyns, Alaphilippe's key ally, gets a call-up to the Flanders squad (Image credit: Wout Beel)
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Kasper Asgreen was runner-up on his debut last year

Kasper Asgreen was runner-up on his debut last year (Image credit: Wout Beel)

Julian Alaphilippe had his first taste of the cobblestones of northern Belgium this week, as he got to grips with the terrain ahead of his Tour of Flanders debut on Sunday. 

The Frenchman has won Milan-San Remo, La Flèche Wallonne, Strade Bianche, and the world road race title but Sunday will be his first taste of the Flemish Classics. 

Wearing the rainbow jersey, and clearly on form after his victory at Brabantse Pijl, Alaphilippe's debut is highly-anticipated even if his Elegant-QuickStep team have a number of other potential winners in their squad. 

Joining Alaphilippe on the squad are his key ally Dries Devenyns, along with Yves Lampaert, Kasper Asgreen, Zdenek Stybar, Florian Sénéchal, and Tim Declercq.

On Wednesday and Thursday, Alaphilippe joined his more experienced teammates on the cobbles and bergs of the Flemish Ardennes for two reconnaissance rides. 

The first saw them explore the middle section of the 243-kilometre course, ticking off the early climbs after the largely flat opening 100km. Thursday's recon saw them do 110km, focusing on the final part of the course. 

There is no Muur van Geraardsbergen on the Tour of Flanders route this year, but the finale will broadly remain intact, with the combination of the Oude Kwaremont and Pateberg to be tackle twice, with four climbs in between. 

From the top of the second ascent of the Paterberg, there's a 13km run-in to the line in Oudenaarde. 

"It’s going to be quite a strange feeling to race De Ronde in October, but it’s still one of the most important events out there and we’re ready for this challenge," said Elegant-QuickStep director Tom Steels. 

"The parcours has been shortened and not having the Muur-Kapelmuur, which has always played an important role in the race, will make things a bit different, but on the other hand, there’s plenty of terrain to try and do something. 

"We have a strong and motivated team; for Julian it will be the first time here, he has Dries by his side to guide him, and we’ll just see how that goes, but also the other guys can play an important role, especially as they are all coming here with a lot of ambition and determination to do a good race."

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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.