While Julian Alaphilippe has chained the galleys for a little over a year, Cyrille Guimard wonders if the double world champion has not lost the flame.
This Wednesday is Flèche Wallonne day. Theoretically, this should be an important day for Julian Alaphilippe, since the Ardennes classic is his favorite race, the one he won three times in 2018, 2019 and 2021. But this year, the Frenchman will not be there. for the great battle on the slopes of the Mur de Huy, to challenge Tadej Pogacar & Co.
Alaphilippe is not aligned for this Flèche Wallonne, since he is recovering from a fall, one more, on the Tour of Flanders. The Soudal-Quick Step has decided to preserve it with a view to Liège-Bastogne-Liège, on Sunday, the great classic of which the native of Saint-Amand-Montrond dreams, but which he should approach as a team-mate for Remco Evenepoel, the outgoing winner.
With only one victory this season, and three successes in total since the start of 2022, Alaphilippe can no longer claim anything else. Struck down by the galleys for a year, illnesses and falls, culminating in this serious accident in Liège last year, the double world champion is bruised in the flesh. Physically affected, Alaphilippe is also mentally affected, certainly. This is what Cyrille Guimard fears.
“It feels like he’s lost desire, pleasure and joy, notes the Druid in his column for Cyclism’Actu. I wonder today if he is still happy when he rides a bike after all his troubles. » In fact, Alaphilippe gives the impression of running in vain behind form, and has “plus the time needed to return to his best level, since every time a glitch happens to him, and not a small one“, believes Guimard. While the Quick Step manager is constantly putting pressure on him to regain his rankAlaphilippe might need a break, to treat himself “A green to redo the fundamentals”, he who hoped that the transition to the new 2023 season would allow him to turn the page on a difficult year.
The evil is deep, and there is probably only Alaphilippe himself, and his relatives, to measure its extent. “There are a lot of parameters that we don’t control and that we don’t know”, summarizes Guimard, worried about the leader of French cycling.