Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) remained resolutely upbeat after his setback on Wednesday’s Tour de France time trial where the French champion finished more than a minute down on winner Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates).
The reigning road World Champion finished 14th on stage 5, having never, he said later, found a solid rhythm on the rolling and deceptively easy-looking time trial course.
Alaphilippe dropped two places overall to fourth as a result, and is now 48 seconds down on overall leader Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix).
With Pogačar at eight seconds behind the Dutchman, regaining yellow, which Alaphilippe wore for a day after his opening victory, will be far harder than 24 hours ago.
“I’m not disappointed, I really gave it everything,” he told French TV. “I quickly realised that my legs were not on a good day. So I kept going at my own pace and I did everything I could.
“I heard over the radio that I wasn’t going to be up there for the win, but that’s how it is sometimes.”
Alaphilippe remained resolutely upbeat after he learned the precise time gaps on the stage saying, “the road to Paris is still long, and we can be very satisfied what we’ve done so far.
“We’ve had two stage wins” - with himself and teammate Mark Cavendish - “and we’ve held the yellow jersey and still have the green.
“Of course I wanted to do better today and the support I got from the roadside was incredible. But I wasn’t on a good day.”
Alaphilippe congratulated Pogačar on his win, but gave no indication that he was throwing in the towel despite the scale of the Slovenian’s victory.
“We’re only in the first week of the race and a lot of things can happen, there are lots more opportunities,” he warned. “He’s here to win the Tour, so it was a good thing for him. I’m not surprised, he was in great shape.
“But after we’ve gone over what happened today back at the team hotel, I’ve got lots of ideas about what I can do.”
While not totally ruling out fighting for the yellow jersey in the days and weeks to come, Alaphilippe played down the speculation that he was bound to keep fighting for GC.
“You can’t win all the time,” he reasoned "and you mustn’t forget that our number one priority this year wasn’t the overall victory, it's stage wins. I wish I had better legs today but I’m close to being completely satisfied with my first week.”
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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