Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), who spent 14 days in the yellow jersey at this year’s Tour de France, will focus on the Tour of Flanders and not the Tour de France overall in 2020.
The Frenchman has no dreams of becoming a Grand Tour general classification rider at the expense of one-day races. At least not yet, according to comments made at a post-Tour criterium.
>> Struggling to get to the shops? Try 6 issues of Cycling Weekly magazine for just £6 delivered to your door <<
“Maybe the general classification will be something I would focus on in the future, but for sure not next year,” said the 27-year-old. “First, I want take my chances in the Tour of Flanders.”
Alaphilippe took the Tour de France lead with a solo win in Épernay in the Champagne region . He lost it briefly to Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) and once back in yellow, rode until eventual race winner Egan Bernal (Ineos) took over on the shortened stage 19 to Tignes.
The winner of this year’s Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo and La Flèche Wallonne does not want to sacrifice everything for a chance at winning the Tour de France.
“If you want to prepare for the Tour,” he added, “you need months, if not years, for that.”
He cracked on the final mountain stage to the Val Thorens ski resort and slid to fifth in the overall at 4-05 minutes from Bernal.
To make a push for the overall, he would need Deceuninck-Quick-Step to beef up its roster with GC helpers. Team boss Patrick Lefevere, is hesitant to do so and sees overcoming cyclists like Bernal “difficult.”
Lefevere told Le Parisien: “I will tell you how we live this Tour… We hoped to win the first stage in Brussels. We wanted the yellow jersey for our sprinter Elia Viviani and then we said that we would defend it in the team time trial. Nothing worked as expected. Then, Alaphilippe appeared.”
He said he was “surprised” Alaphilippe won the Pau trial (with 14 seconds over Geraint Thomas) to hold on to the yellow jersey.
“How could Julian keep the jersey to Paris? Snow at the bottom of the Iseran and a storm in Val Thorens, and they cancel both stages and he wins!” he continued.
Mother Nature did not work in Alaphilippe’s favour, though the organiser was forced to shorten the stages.
“We do not have the team for the overall and the roster is already done for 2020. We will aim for other goals,” Lefevere continued.
“I insist. Julian will not have strong enough team-mates to win next year. For other years, why not, but when you see a real climber like Bernal, it will be very difficult.”
Alaphilippe has yet to race the Tour of Flanders mostly due to his focus on classics with more climbing and with Lefevere allowing riders like Philippe Gilbert, Yves Lampaert and Zdeněk Štybar to have their space.