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Julian Alaphilippe to defend titles at Strade Bianche, Milano-Sanremo

The Deceuninck–Quick-Step pro will start racing again in Italy before heading home for Le Dauphiné, the French championships, and the Tour.

French star Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck–Quick-Step) will get his 2020 racing season back on track in Italy, with starts planned for Strade Bianche on August 1, and Milano-Sanremo on August 8.

And these are two races he knows well, with wins in both in 2019.

In a statement issued by his team, Alaphilippe said of the Italian race held on iconic white roads, “Winning last year was an amazing feeling, one of my best memories of the season. I came [to] the start [in] great shape, was really focused, and had a very strong team always around me until the race came to life inside the final hour. I love the parcours and the atmosphere of Strade Bianche and it will be interesting to restart the season there, especially as it comes after a different preparation than I had last year.”

A week after Strade Bianche, he’ll start the monument Milano-Sanremo also as the defending champion.

“Taking my first Monument on the Via Roma was incredible! I owe that victory to the Wolfpack, they were absolutely incredible on that day. Having great legs and being very confident also helped me claim what I still consider the biggest victory of my career. I’m happy to be back at the start this year and pin on number one on my jersey,” he said in a team announcement.

Alaphilippe plans on final Tour de France preparations at the Criterium du Dauphiné (August 12-16), and then French national road championships (August 23).

“The Dauphiné is the best preparation for the Tour de France. It will be a special edition with many hard stages, but that doesn’t scare me and I would love to win again a stage, like last year. As for the national championships, I think it’s every rider’s dream to win the tricolor. I will give it my all, even though the parcours doesn’t really suit me like the old one in Plumelec,” Alaphilippe said.

Alaphilippe was victorious on stage 6 of the 2019 Criterium du Dauphiné, as well as taking the climber’s jersey at the end of the eight-day stage race.

With a fifth-place finish in the general classification at the 2019 Tour de France — after wearing yellow for 14 days — the Frenchman is excited to get back to the business of racing in his home country.

The 28-year-old told reporters Tuesday, “I’m burning to resume the season to see how I feel and what I can achieve.”

Alaphilippe last raced in March, at Paris-Nice, before the season ground to a halt as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.