World champion Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) has admitted that the Tour de France is the race he would most like to add to his palmarès, though he stopped short of suggesting that he would target the general classification in 2021.
Alaphilippe had long made a goal of the world title before landing the rainbow jersey in Imola in September. In an interview with Eurosport’s Bistrot Vélo show on Monday, he was asked to name the victory he now coveted above all others.
“Now after winning the World Championships, for sure I’d really like to win the Tour de France," Alaphilippe said.
"The two races that always made me dream were the World Championships and the Tour de France. Of course, I want to win Monuments and Classics but if I could only pick one, it would be the Tour.”
Alaphilippe was at pains to stress, however, that he was simply answering a question rather than making a declaration of intent.
“I didn’t say I am going to win it. I just said that if I could only choose one race to win, that would be it.”
The Frenchman placed fifth overall at the 2019 Tour, wearing the maillot jaune for two weeks, but he did not make a concerted bid for the general classification this year, where he won stage 2 in Nice and held yellow for three days before placing 36th overall in Paris.
“The route of the 2021 Tour is nice, and it motivates me, with the opening stages that suit me quite well. But for the moment, I’m only thinking about preparing for the start of the season and the Tour always comes a bit afterwards,” said Alaphilippe, who plans to return to the Tour of Flanders after his impressive debut last month was cut short when he crashed out of the winning move, sustaining a double fracture of his right hand.
“The Tour of Flanders is a race that I like, and I really want to go back there. It will be part of my objectives for the start of next year. I think I’m going to do a big block at the start of the season with all the Classics, but I haven’t spoken about it yet with the team.”
Alaphilippe reiterated his view that the motorbike rider was not at fault for the Ronde crash. “I don't blame anybody, and I don't even blame myself, because I didn't do anything wrong," he said.
He also revisited his disappointment at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, when Primož Roglič pipped him at the line after he celebrated prematurely. The race jury later relegated Alaphilippe to fifth place for impeding Marc Hirschi of Team Sunweb in the sprint.
“I rode very well beforehand, and all everybody remembers is my sprint. When you have the jersey of world champion, the slightest mistake is immediately relayed a thousand times. That will be a lesson for me.”
Deceuninck-QuickStep won more races, 39, than any other team in the pandemic-interrupted 2020 season. Remco Evenepoel weighed in with 10 victories before his season was ended prematurely by his heavy crash at Il Lombardia on August 15. The Belgian youngster will be to the forefront of the team’s plans for the Grand Tours in the years ahead, but Alaphilippe insisted the pair could ride together.
“We’re not in competition. On the contrary, I’m very happy when he wins races and it’s the same for him,” Alaphilippe said. “We’ve already done races where he’s ridden for me or where I’ve given him a hand, and it’s worked very well like that.”
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