Whatever he does, the favorite sign sits above Julian Alaphilippe’s head. Double world champion, the Frenchman has the chance, on Sunday, September 25, to win in Wollongong (Australia) in the third consecutive road cycling road race title. But after a dark season, made up of repeated falls and illnesses, the unknown form of the 30-year-old runner invites us to think about more B plans than in previous editions.
“I’m not in the best mood, confirmed, on Wednesday, the cyclist of the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl team. I’m never 100%. I will not rot either, but I will not come with the same guarantee as in previous years”. With a reduced leader, is this the end of tricolor hope? No.
The moment could have been more poorly chosen because the French team has talents, some could have played the leaders in less given choices. “An excellent team on paper, perhaps the most complete” he hasn’t, coach Thomas Voeckler admitted.
The latter obviously does not want to reveal his strategy but Julian Alaphilippe admits that he is not the only card in the Blues. “I am one of the leaders but I am not the only leader and that suits me very well.he said in a press conference on Wednesday. There are riders from the French team who have performed better than me in recent weeks and who raced well too.
“I will be very happy to give the maximum for them. It is by playing on the collective that we will go far.”Julian Alaphilippe
in a press conference
The thoughts of the holder of the iridescent jersey must return to Benoît Cosnefroy. At the beginning of September, Norman distinguished himself by winning the Grand Prix de Québec, the field in which appeared some favorites from the World (Wout van Aert, Biniam Girmay, Tadej Pogacar). “The victory in Quebec brought out many things”he crashed on Wednesday after his last-minute arrival in Australia.
Because the rider of the AG2R Citroën team was not initially planned by the choice of Thomas Voeckler. With no shortage of ideas to surprise his world, the coach pulled him out of his hat at the last moment. It is indeed a desire to cover the tracks to the end for the competing teams.
Benoît Cosnefroy replaces Rémi Cavagna in Sunday’s men’s elite road race pic.twitter.com/thySeuejuv
– FFC (@FFCycling) September 21, 2022
Another runner in form at the end of the season, Valentin Madouas should be one of the group’s protégés. His third place in the Tour of Flanders in April confirmed his potential and his taste in one-day races, which are very special in their tactical approach. “This is a time of the year that I always feel good. I am here for the French team to win this race, if I have the chance to get a chance, I will take it”, Breton is not hidden.
Great craftsman, thanks to his work, in the last two titles of Julian Alaphilippe, Valentin Madouas has improved this season. His three victories in September in the Tour du Doubs and in two stages of the Tour du Luxembourg prove that the legs are there.
The vice-world champion of 2018 in Innsbruck (Austria), Romain Bardet also gained momentum in September. He is particularly in the fight at the Grand Prix of Montreal (8th), on September 11. His experience and his qualities as a climber will be very useful in Mount Pleasant (1.1 km at 7.7% with a maximum path of 14 %), which increases twelve times. “The slope is quite irregular, the repetition of the climb will definitely cause groups to form. It might suit our team that brings a lot of density”scolded the dean of Blues.
The similar profile of Pavel Sivakov, who will celebrate his first selection for the French team, may also prove valuable. But his position as a rookie will place him among team members like Bruno Armirail or Quentin Pacher.
In case the race is slow to settle, France also has two big assets with a big burst of speed. The first is called Christophe Laporte. Since his arrival at the Dutch team Jumbo-Visma at the start of the season, the former member of Cofidis has reached a real plateau. His four successes of the year prove it, including a stage in Paris-Nice and one in the Tour de France. “I’m a fast runner and we can play that, we have a lot of cards to play”, did he declare.
Christophe Laporte also has the advantage of knowing the Belgian Wout van Aert very well, with whom he is the teammate of Jumbo-Visma. In the final package, Florian Sénéchal can also take advantage of his maximum speed, when launching a teammate or playing his personal card.
A year after the Blues’ tactical recital in Belgium, all options are on the table in Australia. Especially since the strength of this team lies in Julian Alaphilippe’s qualities such as the unity of the group. “I’m really happy to bring back what we’ve been through the last two years. And I think I’ll be even happier if one of my teammates wins”, even ending the double world champion. As long as the rainbow jersey stays in France…