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.”
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.