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Julian Alaphilippe to focus on Ardennes Classics rather than Tour of Flanders in 2022

MILAN ITALY OCTOBER 06 Julian Alaphilippe of France and Team Deceuninck QuickStep prior to the 102nd MilanoTorino 2021 a 190km race from Magenta to Torino Superga 669m MilanoTorino on October 06 2021 in Milan Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) (Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

Julian Alaphilippe has intimated that he will miss the Tour of Flanders in 2022 in order to focus on the Ardennes Classics.

The world champion raced Dwars door Vlaanderen and the Ronde this year before going on to win La Flèche Wallonne and place second at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but he believes that he spread himself too thinly by trying to be competitive on the cobbles as well as in the Ardennes.

"Last year I wanted to try to juggle the Flanders and Ardennes Classics. I realised that it was possible to do it, but it's not easy to be 100 per cent in both," Alaphilippe told RMC Radio

"What will change for the first part of the next season is that I will stay focused on the Ardennes Classics. They’re the races that suit me best. Even though I loved discovering the Tour of Flanders, it is a race that I will come back to do at 100 per cent when I’m ready to give my all to go for victory.

"To be ready for La Flèche Wallonne or Liège-Bastogne-Liège at the end of April and to play for the win in the Tour of Flanders is a bit difficult. Next year I will focus on the Ardennes. Then the Tour de France will follow quickly, and we will see."

Alaphilippe made his Tour of Flanders debut in the pandemic-delayed edition of 2020, crashing out of the winning break when he clipped a motorbike. He placed 42nd at the 2021 Ronde, which was won by his Deceuninck-QuickStep teammate Kasper Asgreen.

Although Alaphilippe has won La Flèche Wallonne on three occasions, he has endured disappointment at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, where he placed second in 2015 and 2021, and where he was declassified from second place in 2020.

The Frenchman has yet to decide on his approach to the Tour de France, where he has won a stage and worn the yellow jersey in each of the past three editions. He spent 14 days in the maillot jaune in 2019, only losing the garment on stage 19, and he went on to reach Paris in 5th place overall. Despite that remarkable July, Alaphilippe has downplayed the idea of fighting for the general classification ever since.

"So much can happen in the first week and in the first part of the Tour. It's difficult to predict a scenario and that's something I really like," Alaphilippe said of the 2022 route. "But when I say that, I’m not thinking about the general classification. I’m just thinking about doing nice stages and trying to win. A lot of things are going to happen and that will make the Tour interesting, I hope.

"That's what I mean when I say I like the route of the Tour. There are also some very difficult stages in the high mountains, which will be very complicated. I am not making too many plans at the moment. I will wait until I go to reconnoitre some of the stages before setting myself clearer objectives."

Alaphilippe claimed his second successive world title in Leuven in September with a remarkable solo attack on the penultimate lap. He confessed afterwards that he would not have minded giving up the rainbow jersey, though he expressed hope to RMC that the title would not weigh as heavily the second time around.

"I hope so because I have learned to ride with the rainbow jersey," he said. "I have learnt to wear it every day in training and take all the demands that go with it."