‘I always want more’: Julian Alaphilippe coy on defence of yellow jersey

After last year, the Frenchman will not be allowed, by rivals or the media, to surreptitiously wander into yellow jersey contention

“You said you wouldn’t race for the overall but I’m looking at the roadbook and I don’t see where it will be too difficult for you? Does this mean you will be in yellow until the Alps?”

“I recce’d the Alpine stages and it will be really difficult, tomorrow I do my best to defend the yellow jersey. I’m proud to wear it, it’s a huge happiness that I feel, so I will give it my all to keep it. If I keep it, it will be another bonus. Every day is just a bonus.”

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If Julian Alaphilippe loses the yellow jersey on tomorrow’s stage four summit finish, the press room is going to need to come up with entirely new questions. If not, they’ll keep asking him how long he’ll keep the yellow jersey every day until he no longer owns it. But how many “bonus” days count as such, until once again he becomes a serious GC contender.

The category one ascent to Orcières-Merlette is 7.1km long at 6.7 per cent will be the first test on his GC lead, and this year he currently only has a four-second advantage over Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) to protect.

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“I’ve only heard it’s a difficult stage but I haven’t studied the race profile yet, but again we will control the race and the legs will do the talking,” Alaphilippe, already asking on day three for an acquiescence from the media, admitting he is feeling the pressure more this year.

“The feeling is different, really different from last year,” the Frenchman said. “The feeling to get the yellow jersey this time was a relief, I feel much more relaxed after I won yesterday. I was missing a win and I did it in style.

“Tomorrow will be a difficult stage and just thinking I have to fight gives me a lot of motivation.”

“Are you satisfied with what you have so far or do you want more?” comes the final question.

“I always want more,” replies Alaphilippe.