‘I never expected to repeat last year’: Julian Alaphilippe reflects on first week of Tour de France 2020 

The French star said losing the race lead could be the best thing for him 

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Julian Alaphilippe said he never expected to repeat his phenomenal 2019 season, as he reflects on a rollercoaster first week of the Tour de France 2020

The Deceuninck - Quick-Step rider found himself in the yellow jersey early in the 2020 edition of the Tour with a stunning Classics-style victory in Nice on stage two.

Fans soon began to wonder if Alaphilippe was a genuine contender for the yellow jersey in this year’s race, after he led the 2019 edition for two weeks and came within days of overall victory.

But it wasn’t to be for the 28-year-old, as he was forced to relinquish the yellow jersey due to a time penalty for taking an unauthorised bottle from the roadside. 

Reflecting on the first week of the Tour during rest day on Monday (September 7), Alaphilippe said: “I never expected to repeat what I did last year. 

“It was really exceptional season for me, exceptional for the fans. So now it was just an amazing feeling and a bigger satisfaction to win the stage in Nice and wear the yellow jersey. It was unfortunate to lose it in this way, but in the end, it still may be better for me.” 

Alaphilippe’s time in the yellow jersey came to a premature end in the 2020 edition on stage five from Gap to Privas, when he was handed a 20-second penalty for taking a bottle from a roadside helper in the final 20km of the stage, which is banned by the UCI under safety grounds. 

Even after the penalty, the race lead was still in reach however as Alaphilippe was just 16 seconds down as the race headed to the Pyrenees for the first big mountain tests.  

But any hope of Alaphilippe reclaiming yellow were abandoned on stage eight from Cazerès to Loudenvielle, when he lost more than 10 minutes to the leaders and another 30 minutes the following day. 

He added: “I think now at this moment I'm more focused on the, on the team work to help the team to try to win again and for stage victories.”

>>> ‘This cannot be right’: Riders react to Tour de France fans not wearing masks and rest day coronavirus tests

When asked if he might fight for the mountains classification, which he won in 2018, Alaphilippe said it still takes a lot of energy and that he’d prefer to focus on individual opportunities. 

Thank you for reading 10 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

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.