Julian Alaphilippe has been confirmed for the Tour of Britain in 2021 in his first appearance since he won the race back in 2018.
Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) has not raced much since the Tour de France where he won the opening stage and wore the yellow jersey for a day. Since then he has raced at the Clásica San Sebastian finishing sixth and most recently the Belgian Druivenkoers in Overijse, where he managed a solid 13th with his team-mates taking first, second and fourth.
The 29-year-old Frenchman is building up to his defence of the world title he won last year in Imola, Italy. This year the World Championships are being held in Leuven, Belgium, which suits the star rider's credentials.
"I am really looking forward to racing the Tour of Britain, which will be my last in the rainbow jersey, that I have been so proud to wear for the last 12 months," Alaphilippe said of his upcoming return to the UK.
"I had a successful race in Britain the last time I was there in 2018, and I know it will be a hard-fought race this time. It will be the perfect race for me to take on, ahead of the World Championships. We come here with a strong team and will look to race hard, as we always do."
Alaphilippe joins his team-mate Mark Cavendish as well as Belgian champion Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) as the first three riders announced to be starting the eight-day race around Great Britain.
It's a course that suits Alaphilippe and Van Aert very well with multiple hilly stages including a summit finish on the Great Orme in Llandudno, Wales. Also included in the route is a team time trial which should open up the general classification on stage three.
By his high standards, Alaphilippe has not had his best season with just three wins to his name. A stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, Flèche Wallonne, and the previously mentioned Tour stage.
It is not yet known how the rest of the Deceuninck - Quick-Step team will look at the race but it is likely to be a very strong one when the first two riders announced are Cavendish and Alaphilippe.
The Tour of Britain starts on Sunday, September 5 in Penzance, Cornwall and finishes eight days later in Aberdeen, Scotland on Sunday, September 12.
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