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Alaphilippe in no hurry to target GC at Tour de France

Julian Alaphilippe in the yellow jersey at the 2019 Tour de France
Julian Alaphilippe in the yellow jersey at the 2019 Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)

Julian Alaphilippe has been named as the best French sportsperson of 2019 after winning L’Équipe’s ‘Champion of Champions’ award. 

The Deceuninck-QuickStep rider finished top of a poll of the newspaper’s journalists, beating skier Alexis Pinturault and footballer Kylian Mbappé into second and third place, respectively. Earlier this month, Alaphilippe was awarded the Vélo d’Or by Vélo Magazine.

Alaphilippe was honoured for his 12 victories in 2019, including Milan-San Remo, Flèche Wallonne and Strade Bianche, but above all for his remarkable series of displays at the Tour de France. He won two stages, including the Pau time trial, and wore the yellow jersey for 14 stages, only losing the race leader's jersey on the final Friday of the race. Alaphilippe finished fifth overall in Paris and was elected as the most combative rider of the Tour.

Despite coming so close to the Tour podium – and even to overall victory – Alaphilippe has downplayed his prospects of shifting his focus to the general classification in Grand Tours for the time being. He will ride the Tour once more in 2020 but suggested that he will not target GC.

“What’s certain is that I won’t have five teammates around me,” Alaphilippe told L’Équipe. “There will be a sprinter. We won’t start with a team to control the race, but rather to win stages. If there is a turn in my career and I have to think about the general classification of the Tour, it won’t come before the end of my contract in two years’ time.”

After just missing out on a medal in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, Alaphilippe will hope to return to the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020, where the demanding parcours should prove to his liking. The road race takes place just six days after the Tour concludes on the Champs-Élysées.

“If I’m in form at the start of the Tour, it will be complicated to be in form [still] at the end,” Alaphilippe said. “And there are also the Olympic Games, so you need to plan well.”

As in 2019, Alaphilippe will once again start his year at the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina before tackling the Tour Colombia 2.1 race. The major addition to his spring programme comes on the first Sunday of April, when he makes his debut at the Tour of Flanders. As in 2019, he will complete his Classics campaign with Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Off the bike, meanwhile, the 27-year-old has been adapting to the celebrity that followed his displays in July. 

“It’s a bit hard to live as I did before,” Alaphilippe said. “I did what I wanted, I had a simple life. Today, when you do something, it’s ‘Julian did this.’ What you say might be misinterpreted. It’s annoying because I don’t calculate.”