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Julian Alaphilippe will be testing his legs and his nerves at the French national championships this weekend.
Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s double world champion returns to racing Sunday after months on the sidelines as he hunts racing rhythm and Tour de France selection.
The flamboyant French ace admits some nerves returning to the elbows and accelerations of the bunch after his cartwheeling crash at Strade Bianche and horror fall at Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
“It’s not that I’m scared, but I think on some descents, some things may have changed a bit,” Alaphilippe told L’Equipe.
“I don’t think about the fall anymore, but I haven’t restarted racing so I don’t know how it will be in the peloton, when it will go down quickly or when there will be brakes.
“These may be things that will seem weird at first. That’s also why I’m here at nationals, to become automatic again [in racing], not just to see where I am physically.”
Alaphilippe hasn’t raced since becoming one of the hardest-hit victims of a mass pile-up at Liège late April.
The high-speed crash put Alaphilippe in a ditch, and left him multiple fractures, a collapsed lung, and a long stay in the recovery room.
After only returning to full training last month, Alaphilippe is still seeking confirmation of his space in the Quick-Step eight for this summer’s Tour de France.
“I want to do the Tour, of course, but there is the unknown on my condition, and of course, the selection also happens higher [than me],” he said Friday.
Alaphilippe dives into the unknown when he rolls out for French nationals Sunday.
“I fell ill a few days after coming back from training camp, so I still missed a few days of training. That’s also a bit of uncertainty,” he said. “But if I think of the work I was able to do during the long camp, I’m happy.”
Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl’s to-be-confirmed Tour team is expected to center around star sprinter Fabio Jakobsen.
But with two rainbow jerseys, six Tour stage wins, and almost 20 days in the yellow jersey, it’s hard to conceive of Alaphilippe not lining up alongside the Dutchman for the Grand Départ on Friday.
Look to Sunday’s race in Cholet for clues of who we’ll see in Copenhagen.