Cycling: “I had fun being in front”, Julian Alaphilippe now 2nd in the Tour de la Provence

This Friday morning, he announces that he is not targeting anything in particular. And at the end of the day, it was again he who proved to be the most offensive on the Provençal roads. Julian Alaphilippe for his first official outing of 2022 with the rainbow jersey (Editor’s note: for the prologue, Thursday, he was not allowed to wear it), escaped without damage from a windy stage between Istres and Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer won by Elia Viviani. Better, he took the opportunity to get closer, by the game of bonuses during the stage, then a third place in the sprint on the line, the Italian Filippo Gana, the leader of the event.

The latter does not claim final victory on Sunday on the mountain of Lure. Unlike Julian Alaphilippe, back to 4 seconds from the transalpine overall. Even if he denies it and claims to be here only to survey the kilometers of racing and find the rhythm. Even before the final stage, the one scheduled for this Saturday, between Arles and Manosque seems set for him with in particular his second category pass 27 kilometers from the finish.

“I enjoyed being in front”

It would not be surprising to see him put on the leader’s black jersey on Saturday evening. A tunic of a different color from previous years. The organization of the race has decided, in fact, to innovate in 2022 in order to pay tribute to Bernard Tapie, who died on October 3, 2021. A figure in Marseille sport, the former businessman was at the initiative of the founding of the event as the majority shareholder of the daily Provence in the middle of the 2010s.

“I was expecting a fast day and it was the case, smiles Alaphilippe, the bike resting a few meters from the seaside. I enjoyed being in front and the team did a great job. All those who were with me in the first group at 80 terminals from the finish did not ask questions. All the favourites, including Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic), were in it, which made it possible to drive well”.

On his appetite for bonuses during the stage, the French champion prefers to play it modest: “I saw that nobody was interested in it. When it doesn’t eat bread like that, don’t be embarrassed! And on the final sprint it’s good, but it wasn’t a bunch sprint either. In any case, these are all good efforts. Which could well allow him to make the extra effort to soon raise his arms on the Tour de la Provence podium.

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