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Despite having lit up last year’s Tour with a swashbuckling 14 days in the yellow jersey and two stage wins, the Deceuninck-Quick-Step baroudeur has long been asserting that he has no designs on winning the overall at this year’s Tour.
However, speaking at a pre-race press conference Thursday, the Frenchman revealed he isn’t ruling out wearing the yellow jersey for at least one day at this year’s race.
“If I feel good, Sunday is a good opportunity to go for the victory and the yellow jersey,” Alaphilippe said.
Stage 2 of the Tour on Sunday will take the peloton on a loop in and out of Nice through the early slopes of the Alps, with two category one mountains and a closing salvo of short, spikey climbs and narrow, twisting descents on the way back to town. It’s the type of parcours that a swashbuckling attacker like Alaphilippe dreams about.
“Very clearly, it is a mountain stage with 4,000 meters of elevation gain: it is not a middle mountain stage but a real difficult day,” Alaphilippe said of stage 2. “As usual in the first stages of the Tour, there will be a lot of stressful tension, all the leaders are going to want to stay ahead so as not to get trapped.”
“I will take it day after day, but for me it is important to start well – it is very important to start well on Sunday.”
With the Tour’s Grand Départ likely to finish in a bunch kick on Saturday, any gaps and time bonuses on the line at the close of stage 2 will likely propel the victor into the yellow jersey.
However, Alaphilippe isn’t intent on fighting to hold the race lead should he cross the line first in Nice on Sunday.
“The objective is very clear: I did not come here for the general classification,” Alaphilippe said. “It’s a natural decision. Even though I was not far in the end last year, it was not my goal, so it’s not frustrating. I am here to try to win a stage; the team is not here to win the Tour.”