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The pair will be backed by an experienced pack of rouleurs, national champions, and monument-winners.
Despite having set his nation’s hearts ablaze with 14 days in the yellow jersey and two stage wins in last year’s race, Alaphilippe will not be back in the battle for the GC this summer.
“For Julian it will be very difficult to repeat last year’s Tour, but at the same time, it’s not necessary to do it,” said team sports director Tom Steels. “We will take it with him day by day and see what happens. There are some nice opportunities for him, but I can tell you we aren’t thinking of a scenario similar to that of the previous Tour.”
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With an unpredictable and mountain-packed Tour de France on tap, Alaphilippe has long stated that he has no race-winning ambitions for 2020, and will instead focus on stages and maybe the polka dot jersey of best climber where he can show himself at his barouding best.
“He does not go to fight for a place in the general classification, instead he wants to have fun by being on the offensive,” said Alaphilippe’s coach and cousin, Franck Alaphilippe last month. However, having found himself in the yellow jersey as much by accident as by design having punched clear to win stage 3 in last year’s Tour de France, you can never rule out the swashbuckling Frenchman from being in the GC running.
Irish sprinter Bennett is the team’s other major focal point. Having been left on the bench in recent years while former team Bora-Hansgrohe centered itself around Peter Sagan, this year will be Bennett’s first Tour appearance since 2016.
“In Sam, we have a contender for the bunch sprints, which won’t be so straightforward as in the past, the route being one of the toughest in recent memory,” said Steels. “I think there are maximum four clear stages for sprinters spread over the three weeks.”
Bennett will have to make every opportunity count when the flat finishes are so sparse. He’ll be well looked-after by veteran lead out man Michael Mørkøv and newly-crowned Danish champion Kasper Asgreen. Although Bennett’s long-time wingman Shane Archbold has not been selected, the Irishman will be on anyone’s shortlist of top sprinters for this year’s Tour alongside Caleb Ewan and Elia Vivani.
The team also packs a powerful trio of all-rounders in Zdeněk Štybar, Dries Devenyns and Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner Bob Jungels. All three are equally-capable of snatching victory on a tough transitional stage, pulling in the leadout train, or supporting Alaphilippe on the rolling stages. However, they are far from suited to the high mountains, supporting the team’s statement that Alaphilippe is not intent on a yellow jersey challenge.
Last but not least is Tim Declerq, the massive motor known for towing the entire peloton through kilometer after kilometer of flatland. The brawny Belgian will be essential in controlling the race for Bennett, and adds further brains and experience to back Mørkøv in his role as team captain.
Deceuninck-Quick-Step’s Tour de France team: