Speaking to L’Équipe on Wednesday, the defending world champion said: “I’m not at 100%, but I’m there to go deep and give my best. We all have the profiles in this team to respond to the tough course, even if we’re perhaps less of the favourites than in previous years.
“I consider myself able to influence the race and help my teammates if necessary. I’m one of the leaders, not the sole leader, and that suits me. I have riders in great form by my side, we’ll ride as a team.”
Joining the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl rider in the nine-man French squad will be Christophe Laporte, Forian Sénéchal, Quentin Pacher, Pavel Sivakov, Bruno Armirail, Valentin Madouas and Romain Bardet. Recent GP de Québec winner Benoît Cosnefroy will also be present, after being brought in on Wednesday to replace Rémi Cavagna.
This year, Alaphilippe has endured a season marred by crashes and injuries. The 30-year-old was sidelined for two months back in April after suffering two broken ribs, a broken scapula and a punctured lung during Liège-Bastogne-Liège. At last month’s Vuelta a España, he dislocated his shoulder in a crash on stage 11 and abandoned the race.
“I’m not in the best condition, that’s for sure,” he told L’Équipe. “I hurt myself at the Vuelta once again this season, one time too many really.
“I only spent a few days off the bike. This season, there have been several moments where I’ve wanted to put the bike in the garage and wait for 2023, but I’m happy to be [in Australia] with the guys, I’m ready to fight for us to keep the world champion jersey within the team.”
Despite his form, Alaphilippe remains one of the favourites for victory in Wollongong. When asked if he felt any pressure heading into the road race, the Frenchman responded with a resounding non.
“The only time I felt it a bit was maybe in Imola two years ago. Last year, I didn’t feel it, I wanted to give everything, but above all I was ready to lose, which explains my way of racing in the final. I think my head is going to make more of a difference than my legs, but I don’t feel any pressure.”
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