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Lefevere: Anyone suspecting Alaphilippe of doping in Tour de France 'doesn't have a brain'

Deceuninck-QuickStep manager Patrick Lefevere has said anyone who suspects Julian Alaphilippe of doping 'doesn't have a brain'.

Though Alaphilippe hasn't faced the same level of scrutiny experienced by Chris Froome, who won the Tour de France four times between 2013 and 2017, it's a necessary consequence of cycling's past that the maillot jaune faces questions over his performances.

Alaphilippe has surpassed his own expectations to win two stages at the 2019 Tour - including the time trial on Friday - and hold the yellow jersey through the Pyrenees and into the final week.

Astana manager and convicted doper Alexandre Vinokourov has raised eyebrows with his comments on Alaphilippe in the past week. "I knew the yellow jersey helps you go beyond yourself, but I didn't realise it made you fly," he said after the time trial. The following day he added: "If he takes the jersey to Paris it would be a big surprise, and then I don't understand cycling."

Asked about the topic following QuickStep's rest-day press conference in Nîmes on Monday, Lefevere hit back.

"Someone who is tested every evening, and who often does blood tests in the morning… if someone thinks he's suspicious, that says a lot about the people who are saying that. It means their intelligence is lower than their feet, and certainly not in their head," he said.

When the reporter apologised for annoying him, Lefevere added: "It doesn't annoy me. How can I fight against people who don't have a brain? I'm never going to stoop so low to argue against people like that."

Alaphilippe faced questions about his credibility in the stage-winner's press conference after the Pau time trial on Friday, where he beat Geraint Thomas by 14 seconds.

"I'm not here to answer suspicions," he said. I know the work I've done. I'm the first one to be surprised. Success always creates stories but I'm just here to ride my bike.

"I know that being in the first position always make people talk. If I was in the last place, I wouldn't face these questions."

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Patrick Fletcher
Patrick Fletcher

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.