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Julian Alaphilippe on Tour of Flanders return: ‘I am not racing for revenge’

World champion turns the page on last year's crash and vows to play his part to help ‘Wolfpack’ win De Ronde.

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World champion Julian Alaphilippe is not hoping for a repeat of last fall’s Tour of Flanders.

The French superstar ended up on the ground when he clipped a race motorcycle after making the winning move with Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix).

Six months later, “Alapanache” is back at De Ronde, but he’s not racing with vengeance to make up for last year’s missed chance.

“I do not race with a revenge feeling,” Alaphilippe said Friday in a media call. “That is behind me now. The condition is different, the race is different. For sure, it was a bad moment for me and the team. It’s not revenge for me. I did not think, ‘Could I have won? Could have I attacked?’ That’s life. I accepted it. This is something that happened to me.”

Instead, he is racing to win. Or, to put it more accurately, racing so that his team wins.

“We are here to try to win,” he said. “My goal is to perform as best as I can. We come here with big ambition for this big race.

“The best scenario is to win the race,” Alaphilippe said. “We have to play it strong and be smart. The ideal scenario isn’t for me to attack from far away, the ideal scenario is for one of us to win. I will try to be at my best to try something in the end. I just want that ‘we’ win the race.”

Alaphilippe headlines a powerful Deceuninck-Quick-Step team that will race Sunday without Zdeněk Štybar, who is sidelined following a medical intervention to treat heart arrhythmia.

Also read: DQS will miss Stybar in its tactical playbook at Flanders

Similar to van der Poel and van Aert, Alaphilippe barnstormed into 2021. He was second at Strade Bianche and won a stage at Tirreno-Adriatico. After 16th at Milano-Sanremo, he was flat Wednesday at Dwars door Vlaanderen, impacted in part by unseasonably warm weather.

Also read: Alaphilippe sets tone early in world champion season

The French star said there are many favorites, and warned that Quick-Step won’t be doing all the work to control the race.

“For sure, the others have to control the race. It’s not only up to us to control,” he said. “We are only part of the favorites. Everyone has to take their responsibility. We have to be careful of the others, and Peter Sagan, too.”

Patrick Lefevere still searching to secure the team’s future

Team boss Patrick Lefevere said he is not quite ready to reveal the team’s future.

Ideally, Lefevere said he wanted to confirm new sponsors by this week. He hinted things are looking good, but said it’s still too early to reveal details.

“We have a plan and a project, and we hoped to have it finished off before Flanders,” he said. “I hope in the next couple of weeks we will have some news, maybe even days. First, to see if the team goes on, and second, to confirm some riders.”

Right now, nearly all of the rider contracts end at the conclusion of this season.

Lefevere is hoping to secure the team’s future but said he’s given up on having a major sponsor that would bring more money to the table, and instead will bring a series of smaller sponsorship deals to cover the team’s budget.

“We are No. 1 in wins and No. 1 in team ranking,” he said. “We are about number six or seven in terms of budget. There is not one sponsorship proposal that is on the table, I will have to do it with several. Not that I am complaining about that, on the contrary.”