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Julian Alaphilippe is preparing to defend his title in the Strade Bianche this Saturday, but he insists that his main objectives are further down the road at the Tour de France and world championships,
Originally the 28-year-old was not even planning to race on the white roads of Tuscany this year as he hoped to focus on other objectives like the Tour of Flanders. But that all changed with the COVID-19 pandemic. And with the reshuffling of the race calendar, Strade Bianche is an ideal place to start, followed by Milano-Sanremo, another race that he won in 2019.
“I really love Strade Bianche and Milano-Sanremo,” Alaphilippe told l’Equipe Wednesday. “I could have gone to the Tour of Burgos to do a stage race, but we just finished a training camp in the Dolomites and I prefer staying in Italy to avoid the extra travel and fatigue. Between now and October, I won’t have much time to recover between each race, and recuperation will be a key element in obtaining our objectives.”
But while the Deceuninck-Quick-Step star will be at the start of the Strade in Siena on Saturday, he is putting no pressure on himself to win. Instead, Alaphilppe is hoping only to come into top condition during the Tour and then be able to maintain it for races like the world championships.
“The training camp was probably the longest I have ever done, between 16 and 17 days,” he said. “And we did a lot of climbing. Today my training is aimed at the Tour de France, not the classics. I really did a lot of climbing which is going to help me in the Dauphiné, the Tour, and I hope the world championships. In the Dolomites, I worked really hard, but I don’t feel like I did too much. I am tired, but not exhausted.”
But while Alaphilipppe hopes to once again shine in the Tour, he knows it will be difficult to repeat his 2019 performance where he held the yellow jersey for two weeks. But this year’s race is nearly tailor-made for the punchy climber, with an abundance of mid-range mountains, and he will have numerous opportunities to go for stage wins.
“I haven’t set any objectives,” he said. “But winning always feels good! But to be honest, I haven’t set out any objectives for the Tour yet. We don’t have a team to defend the overall classification and I don’t have the head for that. The goal is simply to have a good Tour and not be exhausted at the end.”
Strade Bianche (August 1)
Milano-Sanremo (August 8)
Critérium du Dauphiné (August 12-16)
Tour de France (August 29-September 20)
World Championships (September 27)