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Julian Alaphilippe has a long and wide-ranging to-do list for the second half of his career, and for the moment, winning the Tour de France isn’t on it.
“The races that make me dream the most and that I have not yet won are Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Il Lombardia and the Tour of Flanders. I know I can win them,” Alaphilippe told Ouest France. “These are goals that I set for myself by the end of my career.”
Alaphilippe will roll into 2022 with the rainbow jersey on his back for the second year in a row and an intent to go all-in for spring’s hilly classics. The Frenchman has finished in the top-5 at Liège four times previously but always missed the top step, and has landed in the top-7 for his past five appearances at Amstel Gold Race.
Alaphilippe’s longer list of objectives contains a bid for Olympic glory on home soil in Paris and a more surprising addition – “The Hell of the North.”
“Paris-Roubaix, it’s a challenge we will say. Sometimes I need the unknown, new things, to bounce back,” he said. “2024 is in the back of my mind too. I didn’t go to Tokyo and I know why [the recent birth of his son], but I know I want to be going to Paris.”
Monuments over Tour de France
Alaphilippe has long been burdened with a weight of Tour de France expectation from home fans and media after he stole the show with 14 days in the yellow jersey in 2019.
The 29-year-old isn’t planning to buckle beneath the pressure and target the Tour’s GC any time soon as he prioritizes his one-day dreams.
“I am aware of what people dream of, and I know there are a lot of people who want to see a French winner of the Tour … If I set myself that goal, and if I succeed, that would be the apotheosis,” he said.
“But I also set myself so many goals next to the Tour that I know that if I set myself this kind of goal [racing GC at the Tour], I won’t be able to be everywhere. For the moment, I have made the choice to focus more on the classics and to have long seasons, to be ready for the Tour but without having the idea of playing everything on the general.”
Alaphilippe has worn the yellow jersey three years in a row and won a stage in each of the past four Tours, and home fans can be sure he will keep swashbuckling and stage-hunting his way through the French summer some time yet.
And if he does decide to race for the Tour’s overall, he probably won’t tell us anyway.
“I focus on what I dream of myself rather than wanting to be where people want to see me,” he said. “In any case, the day I decide to bet everything on the Tour, whether it works or it doesn’t, I won’t be shouting it from the rooftops because it is already enough pressure as it is. ”