Julian Alaphilippe insists that he isn’t out for revenge in this weekend’s Tour of Flanders, seven months after he crashed into a motorbike in the same race and broke bones in his right hand.
The world champion will line up as one of the favourites this Sunday, just like he did last October when in his debut performance in the race he looked to be heading towards a minimum of a podium spot until disaster struck.
Leading with Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der and only 35km left ride, Alaphilippe collided with a TV motorbike that left him nursing two broken metacarpal bones through the autumn.
Having recovered well and already been on form this spring, Alaphilippe dismissed talk of still holding a grudge.
“I really don’t have the revenge feeling,” the Deceuninck-QuickStep rider told a pre-race press conference.
“It’s behind me now, we are in 2021, we are in a new edition, the race will be different, and I forgot what happened last year.
“For sure it was a bad moment for me and for the team because after that we had a bad situation.
“But after that we started again, we are motivated and it’s not (about) revenge for me.
“I don’t think about if I didn’t crash what would I have done: maybe I attack, maybe I follow, maybe I attack on the Paterberg.
“That’s life. It happened to me, I accept and I did everything to recover well and now I am focused on Sunday.”
The three protagonists in last year’s delayed edition will once again be the focus of the watching public, and despite boasting a very strong team with a number of potential winners, Alaphilippe doesn’t want just his team working on the front of the peloton.
That role also falls to Jumbo-Visma and Alpecin-Fenix. “For sure they have to control the race with his team,” Alaphilippe said in relation to Jumbo-Visma.
“We are not the only ones to control the race and (while) we are part of the favourites, there are also so many riders who can and want to win so everybody has to take care of the responsibility.
“Van Aert is one of the biggest favourites but be careful also of the others, maybe (Peter) Sagan.”
With so many options to play on Sunday, what is the best tactic the Belgian team should choose?
“There’s no ideal scenario, we just want to win the race,” Alaphilippe added.
“We have a strong team and we have to play smart, be intelligent and in the end we have to be strong because it’s a really hard race.
“I will do my best to be a good position for the team, to help the team or do something.”
Sunday’s race will also be the first Monument to take place under new, controversial UCI rules, notably the ban on the so-called ‘supertuck’ position.
Alaphilippe voiced his displeasure with the ruling and admitted that as a frequent former adoptee of the position, he could run into some problems.
He continued: “I am not so happy with the decision but in the end we cannot do anything and we have to accept.
“I can understand sometimes if it’s really dangerous or not but in my opinion, the position on the frame on the downhill was not dangerous.
“It’s a position I always did so I will have to be really careful not be out of the race for a stupid thing but we have to live with that.”