Julian Alaphilippe has said that there is "not much missing" from his form as he is close to hitting peak fitness with his World Championships defence looming.
Alaphilippe (Deceuninck - Quick-Step), put in an exceptional ride on the final climb of the fourth stage of the Tour of Britain, almost dropping Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma).
But unfortunately for him, Van Aert held on and went on to out-sprint the Frenchman, which also put him back into the blue leader's jersey.
The 29-year-old Alaphilippe posted to Instagram and said: "Not much is missing but it's encouraging for the future. Fire in the legs for the end of the season, it will pay off."
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Alaphilippe tried a big attack on the steepest gradients of the Great Orme climb in Llandudno, with Canadian Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation) looking like he could easily follow with Van Aert just about clinging on.
After the gradient slackened dramatically, Van Aert was able to catch his breath and find his legs again as he looked to keep the then leader's jersey, Ethan Hayter (Ineos Grenadiers), out the back.
The Brit made it back but dragged Alaphilippe's team-mate, Mikkel Honoré, across who upped the pace, leading out Alaphilippe who was pipped on the line by Van Aert.
Deceuninck - Quick-Step sports director, Geert Van Bondt said "We did what we had to do, what we talked about before the start: we controlled the race, remained attentive and went on the offensive at the right moment, but another guy was stronger in the end.
"Despite missing out on the win, we’ll keep fighting. We have the rainbow jersey on the team, he always display panache and we will continue to race accordingly, until the end, in the remaining stages"
Stage five of the Tour of Britain takes the riders back into England with an all Cheshire stage starting in Alderley Park and finishing in Warrington for a likely bunch sprint. However, some early climbs could cause difficulty.
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