Up-and-coming Classics rider Julian Alaphilippe is hoping that his debut appearance in the elite men's road race at the World Championships will yield a strong result for France on Sunday. He will line-up alongside a competitive team of nine men, mixed with sprinters and breakaway riders, many who have a decent shot at the world title.
"I'm not sure what my role will be at Worlds yet because our plan has not been discussed, but we have a very strong team with strong leaders and riders," Alaphilippe told Cyclingnews. "We have a good chance to win, whether it's a sprint or a breakaway.
"My classics period was very good. I was happy. Now this is another race and this is my first World Championship as a professional rider, so I will for sure try to make a result."
The French team also includes sprinters Nacer Bouhanni and Arnaud Demare, and Tony Gallopin, Mickael Delage, Cyril Lemoine, Sebastian Minard, Julien Simon and Florian Vachon. It's a team of riders that could cover an array of race situations throughout the 260km race that features three short but steep climbs within the last four kilometre of each circuit.
"I really like the circuit, I rode it with the French team but the last five kilometres is very hard, otherwise, the rest is through the city with wide roads and a lot of corners. I think it is going to be fast.
"I really like the final, with the climbs and the narrow roads with cobbles, so it is going to be a really good final for a strong rider. After 260km you never know what might happen.
"I will take in the experience of working for the French team because we need to do the best race we can to make a good results for France."
Young Frenchman focuses on Ardennes Classics win in 2016; wants to race his first Tour de France
Alaphilippe, 23, joined the WorldTour ranks in 2014 with Omega Pharma-QuickStep (now Etixx-QuickStep) and emerged this spring as a prominent Ardennes Classics rider taking second places at both Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and seventh at Amstel Gold.
He went on to take second overall at the Tour of California and in the second half of the season he was 10th at the Eneco Tour and eighth at Clasica San Sebastian.
In 2016, while racing under Etixx-QuickStep again, he wants to improve on his performances at the Ardennes Classics and take a victory, although he noted how difficult it might be. He would also like to compete in his first Grand Tour, preferably the Tour de France in July.
"For sure I want to prepare well for the Ardennes Classics and maybe I can try for my first Tour de France," Alaphilippe said.
"I hope in the future that I can win a big Classic. I need to work really hard for that but it’s not so easy to just say you want to win a Classic, you need to race them more often to gain experience and next year if I go to the Ardennes Classics, I want to go there with my top condition, with my best shape. I want to progress step-by-step.
"I need to talk with my team during the winter. Next year it is my third year as a professional and I need to ride in a big tour. I would like to ride the Tour de France, that would be really good.
"I need to ride the Tour because I've never ridden a big race like that before and I need the experience, especially in riding a three-week race. I want to try to do my best to make a result."
Alaphilippe is only at the start of his professional cycling career, and has shown so much promise as a one-day racer. Although he wants to focus on the Classics in the spring and gaining experience in the Tour de France, he has not ruled out a future world title.
"For sure winning a World title is a dream for everyone," Alaphilippe said. "It is in my head one day to win something like this but you need to believe in this dream all the time, and maybe one year it will be me."