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The two-time world champion finished runner-up at the monument for the second time last year, losing to Tadej Pogačar in the sprint to the line — he also took second in 2015. He thought he had won it in 2020, only to find Primož Roglič slip under his arms as he celebrated and then get relegated to fifth for deviating from his line in the sprint.
Alaphilippe, who took his second consecutive world title in Leuven last year, also wants a Tour de France stage victory in the rainbow bands. He did it on the opening stage of last year’s race to take the yellow jersey for a day and would like to enjoy a repeat in 2022.
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“It was amazing to wear the rainbow jersey for a whole year and win with it on my shoulders some big races, and I feel honored to have the chance to sport it again this season. As you know, I want to improve and to become better, that’s why I always have a couple of goals in mind,” Alaphilippe said at Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s media day in Calpe, Spain.
“Liège-Bastogne-Liège will be one of these, as it’s a race that suits me and where I came close a couple of times. I would also like to take a stage victory again at the Tour de France because doing it in 2021 as world champion was quite special. I know I can’t win every race I want to, but the most important thing is to know that I always give everything and enjoy every single moment on the bike.”
Alaphilippe has mapped out the first half of his 2022 program, with some key changes from last year’s. The major omission from his calendar is the Tour of Flanders, which he has ridden for the last two seasons.
He crashed out of his De Ronde debut in 2020 after making it into the race-winning split and faded to 42nd in last year’s race. He had previously indicated his plans to skip the Flemish race to focus on the Ardennes classics, and the race was not included in his confirmed race program but he has promised that he’s not said goodbye to the race for good.
“The goal is to arrive fresher at the start of my big goals,” Alaphilippe told French sports daily L’Équipe. “I want to make the best possible approach, not to throw myself into all the races to achieve the ideal preparation. It’s too difficult to be 100 percent on both the Tour of Flanders and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, but I’ll come back to the Flandrian classics, that’s for sure. I had too much fun doing these courses. It just won’t be for this year. ”
According to L’Équipe, Alaphilippe will start his season at the Tour de La Provence next month. He will then ride the Boucles Drôme-Ardèche, Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico, and Milan-San Remo.
His final race before riding Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège will be the Itzulia Basque Country. Following a break, in May, where he’ll head to altitude, Alaphilippe will ride the Critérium du Dauphiné and then the Tour de France.
The second part of Alaphilippe’s season is much less certain, but one thing he does know for sure is that he wants to defend his world title. The hillier than expected parcours make it a much more favorable one than it might have been, but Alaphilippe would have been in Wollongong no matter the route.
“I’ve been told a lot about the course with this bump at the end, but frankly, if it had been all flat, I would have had the same desire to be there to give the guys from the France team everything ‘they have brought me these last two years,’” he said.