Julian Alaphilippe has chosen not to defend his Flèche Wallonne title, and will instead likely debut his rainbow jersey at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
The Frenchman has said Flèche Wallonne, which takes place on Wednesday September 30, comes “too soon” after his road race exploits in Imola. Instead, he will look to line up for the first time as world champion days later on Sunday October 4 for Liège. The Monument has evaded Alaphilippe so far in his career and he’s previously highlighted it as a key victory he wants to achieve this season.
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“Wednesday is going to be too tight. I want to enjoy my victory and recover first,” Alaphilippe told French radio station RMC. “I don’t think I’ll be riding Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday. It comes just a little too soon in terms of physical and emotional recovery. Defending my title may not be the best choice.”
Tim Declerq will start in place of Alaphilippe, Deceuninck – Quick-Step have confirmed, and Alaphilippe will spend the week coming to terms with his achievement, the Frenchman visibly emotional on the podium after returning the rainbow jersey to France after a 23-year wait.
Deceuninck – Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere said Alaphilippe had asked him after winning in Imola if he was proud of him.
“He was crying and asked ‘are you proud of me?’ He always asks me that if he wins,” Lefevere told Sporza. “I am overjoyed. I have never seen so many men crying as I did today. The whole staff was here and there were also many emotional Italians amongst them.
“I love that rainbow jersey. In the end, we will get out of this s**t season that has been turned upside down by the coronavirus. Despite everything, we will soon be able to ride the Classics with the world champion in the team. That is a wonderful feeling.”
“Of course it would be nice to start in the rainbow jersey, but I always race to win,” Alaphilippe continued. “I would rather recover from the emotions, enjoy the jersey and then be on top form on Sunday in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and everything that follows afterwards.”
After Liège, Alaphilippe is set to line up at two more high profile races he is yet to win. The Amstel Gold Race follows the weekend after La Doyenne on October 10th, with the Tour of Flanders then on the 18th.