Julian Alaphilippe is the face of French cycling. In his smile as in his grimaces. In Nice, he first lulled us into the illusion that the 2019 fairy tale would start again with his stage victory and his adventure in yellow. The beautiful story seemed endless and the world after was the, world before. But the reality is cruel: now, Alaphilippe embodies the certainty that everything is now too hard for the French. In this Tour which never ceases to pile up the climbs, Alaphilippe and his compatriots do nothing but descend.
In the Vercors, before finishing in a sad 10th place, the musketeer of Deceuninck – Quick Step dared again because he lacked neither panache nor desire. It is rather on the side of the legs that things are wrong. Gone are the fiery calves of summer 2019 and the crazy dreams. Hello legs consumed too quickly by lactic acid and the mines laid by the opponents.
“I gave everything but in the end, they were really stronger”
In the climb of Saint-Nizier, he believed for a few moments that the famine was over, being the only one to resist the attack of the Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz. But the illusion was consumed in 300 m. As in the Col de Peyresourde in the Pyrenees, the ascent of the Puy Mary in Cantal or on the slopes of the Croix-Rousse hill, a name that was to inspire him. But there is now stronger than him. Always and every day. “I felt good and I was happy to spend the day ahead,” he says. I was keen to try but it was really difficult to escape today. I gave it my all but in the end they were really stronger. They kicked off and there wasn’t much to do. I have no regrets. “
Julian Alaphilippe probably played and lost his last card on the Tour table. The terrifying Loze pass on Wednesday and the Glières plateau the next day are shaping up to be too tough for him. In the bag, he has three days in yellow and one of the two French stage victories this year (with Nans Peters at Loudenvieille), A record far from being bogus like the one seized before the arrival in Privas on September 2 and which cost him his yellow tunic.
His next goal is now set for September 28 and the World Championships in Imola in Italy where he should be the only leader of the Blues. Last year, he missed the Worlds. Since 2020 looks so little like 2019 to him, there is still much to dream about.