Julian Alaphilippe says following Nairo Quintana’s Tour de la Provence attack was a mistake
World champion’s hopes of success were blown away by the speed of Nairo Quintana’s Montagne de Lure attack.
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MONTAGNE DE LURE, France (VN) – After three days at the Tour de la Provence when he’d surprised himself with the level of his performance, world champion Julian Alaphilippe came unstuck in the race’s key final kilometers when he was unable to stay with the pace of Nairo Quintana toward the top of the Montagne de Lure.
As the Frenchman cracked and dropped off his rival’s wheel, the overall title that had seemed destined for him went instead to the Colombian for the second time in three years.
Despite the setback, Alaphilippe — who ended up second overall at 27 seconds down on Quintana — was still all smiles as he spoke to the press soon after the finish. Wearing the gold jersey as the points winner, he confessed that he had played his cards wrongly.
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“I think that tactically, I’ve done things better. But I’m happy,” he said. “It’s a climb that does actually suit me pretty well. It demands a steady effort at a very fast pace.
“The small mistake I made was when I decided to follow Quintana. I should have stayed at my own tempo and waited for the last moment.”
This was precisely the strategy employed by Trek-Segafredo’s Mattias Skjelmose and Movistar’s Matteo Jorgenson, who both stuck to a pace they were comfortable with into the final kilometer, and then made an all-out effort that enabled them to finish second and third on the stage, respectively.
“But I’ve tested myself and I’ve enjoyed myself,” Alaphilippe added when asked for his view of his performance over the four days as a whole. “I completely exploded in the final kilometers, as everyone saw. But he was stronger, so I’ve got no regrets. I’m very happy with this first race.
“I didn’t expect to be at this level straight away and I hope I keep going in the same good direction. There are some more important objectives in the weeks ahead and I’m satisfied for now.”
Following the Tour de la Provence, Alaphilippe will have a few easier days and then return to competition at the Ardèche Classic and the Drôme Classic, which take place over the last weekend of February.
From there, he will go on to Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milano-Sanremo.