‘It’s a long shot, but Julian Alaphilippe is my pick’: Sean Kelly makes his prediction for the Yorkshire 2019 World Championships

The cycling legend and now commentator has given his thoughts on the men’s road race

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Sean Kelly has picked out Julian Alaphilippe as favourite to win the Yorkshire 2019 World Championships.

Retired cycling great Kelly has given his thoughts on the favourites for the elite men’s road race, as the Worlds kick off in the north of England on Sunday (September 22).

The Irishman, now a familiar voice as a commentator on Eurosport’s cycling coverage, told Cycling Weekly: “It would be a very long shot at the moment, but Alaphilippe is the rider I would pick.

“He’s a rider that can get over the lumpy stuff, his style of racing is very aggressive. If it comes down to a group sprint, you won’t have the real fast men, and he is pretty fast in the sprint when he’s in a small group at the end of a long race.”

Alaphilippe is a strong bet for the Yorkshire Worlds, having won Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo, and Fléche Wallone before winning two stages of the Tour de France and coming within days of taking the overall.

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The men’s road race, which covers 285km from Leeds to Harrogate, closes out the Yorkshire 2019 Worlds on Sunday, September 29.

With three major climbs along the course and seven laps of a tough finishing circuit in Harrogate, the course is expected to favour riders who thrive in a long Classics-style racing and who can finish fast in a reduced group.

Kelly, a former winner of the Vuelta a España, Milan-San Remo, and Paris-Roubaix to name just a few, added: “The course is pretty testing. Weather conditions will have a big bearing because if you get a bad day where it’s wet and windy and pretty cold, that could make it really difficult.

“But if you get nice weather then you could get a lot of guys hanging in there.

"Good weather conditions I think a lot of riders will be in there with a chance to get on the podium and to win a World Championship."

Alaphilippe is among the top favourites for the race, alongside Mathieu van der Poel and former triple world champion Peter Sagan.

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.