Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) will take on what is his second race in his new rainbow stripes as the road race world champion at the Brabantse Pijl in Belgium on Wednesday, no doubt hoping to put the memories of last weekend's Liège-Bastogne-Liège behind him as he tries to hold his form for the run-in to a debut Tour of Flanders.
While Liège has long been on his wish list – and a number of errors on his part on Sunday meant that the Frenchman came away with only fifth place – Alaphilippe certainly wouldn't sniff at upgrading his second place at last year's Brabantse Pijl to the top step for this year's rescheduled race.
Uppermost in the 28-year-old's mind now will be his first Flanders participation on October 18, and holding what is clearly top form from the Tour de France across his successful Worlds ride, into Liège and deep on into October is a big ask, but Alaphilippe will surely stick with his crowd-pleasing approach of making hay while the sun shines.
The principal competition should come from the likes of last year's winner Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), 2018 champion Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) and 2017 winner Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain McLaren), but Alaphilippe will be well supported by a strong squad that includes three riders – Dries Devenyns, Andrea Bagioli and Mauri Vansevenant – that were part of Deceuninck-QuickStep's Liège squad that delivered him to his place in the finale last weekend.
"The Brabantse Pijl is a nice race with a lot of climbs, many of which are crammed into the final circuit, where there's going to be plenty of action," said Deceuninck-QuickStep directeur sportif Wilfried Peeters on the team's website.
"Our team is a strong one, comprising many guys capable of supporting Julian, but he's not the only rider from our squad who can feature in the final," he said, referring to Devenyns and Zdenek Stybar. "The race boasts a deep field at the start, but we are going there with confidence and a lot of motivation to show ourselves and get a good result."
Deceuninck-QuickStep for the 2020 Brabantse Pijl: Julian Alaphilippe, Andrea Bagioli, Dries Devenyns, Ian Garrison, Jannik Steimle, Zdenek Stybar, Mauri Vansevenant
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