Team against Alaphilippe racing for Tour de France and Flanders win

Deceuninck-Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere feels Alaphilippe should target other races before Flanders or the Tour - but isn't going to hold him back either.

Photo: Getty Images

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It is not the best decision for Julian Alaphilippe to race for the Tour of Flanders or the Tour de France overall win, says Deceuninck-Quick-Step team boss Patrick Lefevere.

The French star won Strade Bianche, Milano-Sanremo, and Flèche Wallonne this year before going to the Tour de France to lead the race for 14 days and take two stage wins.

Lefevere believes that there are other races Alaphilippe can try to win first – Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Lombardia, or the world championships – before turning to the cobbled classics or the overall of a grand tour like the Tour de France.

“I’m not French. The French hope he will race for the overall standings, but I am against it,” Lefevere told Cyclism’Actu.

“Maybe when he is 30, in June 2022, but for the moment no. He can win Lombardia, the world championship, all those races before trying for the general classification.

“Betting on the overall ranking of the Tour de France is not a small thing. You have to prepare for nine months for it and set aside the other races so you can just finish sixth and hear that it’s a failure.”

The early plan is that 27-year-old Alaphilippe will race for stage wins next year, but as with the 2019 Tour de France, plans could quickly change if he ends up in the yellow jersey. This summer, he won the stage to Épernay, stage three, and kept going from there to win the stage 13 time trial and to finish fifth overall at 4:05 behind winner Egan Bernal (Ineos).

The Belgian superteam is meeting next week in Calpe, Spain, to decide its 2020 program. The early plan involves Alaphilippe beginning his season in the Tour Colombia on February 11 and continuing in Europe at Paris-Nice on March 8. Afterward, Alaphilippe will head to the Ardennes classics but with one tweak in his schedule: racing Belgium’s Tour of Flanders on April 5.

The cobbled race typically suits heavier, harder cyclists like Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Niki Terpstra (Direct Energie), or 2019 winner Alberto Bettiol (EF Education First). Others like Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-Quick Step), however, have made the switch from Ardennes specialists to be successful on the cobbles. Lefevere is not so sure about Alaphilippe’s Flanders wish.

“I’m not a big fan of this decision, but hey, we can rarely refuse something to Julian,” Lefevere added.

“We must not forget that we always go to the Tour of Flanders to win, and when you take Julian, you leave with six riders plus one. You can not put pressure on him, but you can not ask him to be a team helper either. But, anyway, there is no secret in Flanders, the legs will speak in the end.”

Alaphilippe, five-foot-six, weighs around 60 to 63kg or 132 to 138lbs.

“The power, I do not know [if he lacks that], but it is that it weighs only 60 kilos. Those who race to the front in this race are more like 70 kilos and up,” he said.

“He won twice the Flèche Wallonne, he was second in Liège, I think he wants to relieve a little pressure through the Tour of Flanders and have a new experience at the same time. It’s still a race that every rider loves, so we’ll see.”

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