Alaphilippe, a big score to settle

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Hot on the heels of his victory in the Ardèche Classic, Julian Alaphilippe will be at the start of the Strade Bianche on Saturday. Where everything had started to go wrong for him last season.

Julian Alaphilippe has a big goal at the start of the year: to forget 2022, this year when he will have chained the galleys, and won only two victories, which earned him the reprimands of his boss, Patrick Lefevere, in the off-season. the manager of Soudal Quick-Step.

The French puncher got his season off to a good start by winning the Faun Ardèche Classic on Saturday. Beyond the result, it was the way that was reassuring, with this attack in the main difficulty of the day and this success in the sprint against David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ). Not the very great Julian, but the good Alaphilippe, and that’s already very good.

” It is a relief. It’s been a long time, when I think back to my last victory. I couldn’t wait to get that feeling back. A lot has happened since. It especially validates the work of the last few weeks.confided the double world champion after his victory, with Direct Vélo.

The Strade Bianche, one year later…

This early victory takes a weight off the shoulders of the former rainbow jersey wearer before the start of the big races of the season, and in particular the Strade Bianche. The Tuscan event, in competition to become the sixth Monument of the classics, is a special moment for Alaphilippe. He had won it on his first participation, in 2019, in a success that heralded his triumph over Milan-San Remo two weeks later.

The latest editions have been more complicated. The Frenchman had been beaten in 2021 by an impressive Mathieu van der Poel, but it is undoubtedly the 2022 edition that will leave him with the most bitter memory. Alaphilippe had been the victim of a spectacular fall, a sun in the dirt roads, which had been the first of his long list of difficult moments last year.

Suffice to say that the Frenchman has a small score to settle with these Strade Bianche, and a good performance on Saturday would come as the symbol that everything is finally turning around, we hope, for Alaphilippe. The race promises to be thrilling in any case, as it always is, even if Tadej Pogacar and Wout van Aert have skipped it. With Van der Poel, Alaphilippe but also Matej Mohoric, Thomas Pidcock or even Thibaut Pinot, there will still be beautiful people.

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