Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) insisted he needs more time to truly absorb the route for the 2022 Tour de France - and by extension his ambitions next July - but on first glance he saw a favourable parcours, particularly in the first week.
Alaphilippe was in Paris on Thursday for the unveiling of the 2022 route, which was presented alongside that of the new Tour de France Femmes.
The first three stages during the Grand Départ in Denmark were already known, with an opening 13km time trial in Copenhagen followed by two flat but potentially windswept stages.
After a transfer onto mainland France, the route continues with another coastal stage to Calais, a cobbled stage inspired by Paris-Roubaix, a punchy finish in Longwy, a summit finish on La Planche des Belles Filles, and then two more hilly days largely in Switzerland.
"It's a very nice route, with a first week that should be very interesting, on a wide variety of terrain. A time trial, echelons, cobbles, punchy finishes... it's a first week where a lot could happen," Alaphilippe said.
"I'm eager to do the recons to see what can be done. It's a first week that inspires me a lot."
The short finishing hill in Longwy, where Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) won in 2017, will surely be bookmarked by Alaphilippe, while the run-in to Lausanne on stage 8 and the tougher uphill finish in Châtel on stage 9 would also seem to suit. Later in the race, there's the uphill finish on the medium-mountain stage to Mende.
"There are some stages for the puncheurs but I'll have to study the profiles and go out to do recons to give myself a better idea of all that," Alaphilippe said. "But on paper, this route motivates me."
Alaphilippe, of course, is not limited to punchy terrain. He won two mountain stages and the King of the Mountains jersey in 2018, and he climbed so well the following year he wore the yellow jersey until two days from Paris, in the end finishing fifth overall.
He has won stages and worn yellow again in the past two editions of the Tour, but the question of a future bid for the overall title continue to trail him since 2019.
"For the moment, my objective is stage wins, but later we'll see. I'm going to take my time to make the most of my short holidays and then I'll think calmly about the Tour and the stages when I'm refreshed. I've only just seen the route, so it's a bit difficult to predict my objectives," Alaphilippe said.
"Each year brings different emotions. They're indescribable, but there are always surprises, joy, tougher moments. You have to let yourself get carried along by the Tour."
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.
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