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Julian Alaphilippe: Confidence comes with hard work

Deceuninck-QuickStep’s Julian Alaphilippe at the 2020 Drome Classic, where the Frenchman finished 17th
Deceuninck-QuickStep’s Julian Alaphilippe at the 2020 Drome Classic, where the Frenchman finished 17th (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Deceuninck-QuickStep's Julian Alaphilippe will resume his 2020 season at Strade Bianche on Saturday, followed by Milan-San Remo on August 8. The defending champion of both Italian one-day races has nevertheless admitted that his biggest targets will come later in the season: the Tour de France in August and September, the World Championship road race a week after the finish of the Tour, and the rescheduled 'spring' Classics in October.

"I'm looking forward to both Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo the following weekend as I won both races in 2019," Alaphilippe told L'Equipe on Tuesday. "Even though I haven't got the same form for those races this year, I'm still excited to be taking part. The plan is not to be in top form for these first races, though."

The 28-year-old Frenchman will take part in only one other race in August – the Critérium du Dauphiné, from August 12-16 – which, as L'Equipe points out, will give him significantly less racing in his legs compared to other riders targeting the Tour, who will race two or three stage races ahead of the start of La Grande Boucle in Nice on August 29.

"It's because I love Strade Bianche and San Remo," Alaphilippe explained. "I could have gone to the Vuelta a Burgos instead [July 28-31], but I preferred to stay in Italy following our training camp in order to avoid too much travel."

While he has already stated that he won't be attempting to ride for the general classification at the Tour de France in the near future, Alaphilippe's two weeks in the yellow jersey – and fifth place overall – last year suggest that he could yet use this summer's race to again test himself there, and possibly add a fifth stage win to his palmarès.

He will also race the Tour of Flanders for the first time in his career, rescheduled for October 18, and is keen to find out whether it's a race that he could target to win one day.

"I'm going to have to be able to adapt and change, which is something I've always shown that I'm capable of doing," Alaphilippe said of his differing goals. "Right now, my training has been geared towards the Tour, rather than the Classics.

"From now until October, there's not really much time for recuperation between races, but recuperation is going to be key to achieving objectives," he said.

"I've been doing a lot of climbing and descending, which is going to benefit me for the Dauphiné, the Tour and, hopefully, the World Championship road race," said Alaphilippe, with the latter taking place on a hilly course in Switzerland on September 27, a week after the finish of the Tour.

"To be capable of winning a stage at the Tour, you need confidence, and confidence comes with hard work," he added. "I haven't set any specific target for the August races, but of course a victory is always nice. I'm not too stressed about that, though.

"As for the Tour, I don't have any particular plans there, either. In 2019, it was undoubtedly an exceptional Tour. We don't have the team to fight for the general classification, and I don't have it in mind, so I'm not going to prepare for that," he said. "The goal is to have a good Tour but not to finish it exhausted, because I have those other goals afterwards: the World Championships and the Classics."