Giro 2024. Stage victory and messy escapes… Julian Alaphilippe has found his legs

Giro 2024. Stage victory and messy escapes… Julian Alaphilippe has found his legs
Giro 2024. Stage victory and messy escapes… Julian Alaphilippe has found his legs

At 31 years old, Julian Alaphilippe had never participated in the Tour of Italy. A form of anomaly when looking at the CV of the man, but which can be explained by the profile and the emergence of “Loulou” on the world cycling scene. A puncher at heart, the Frenchman revealed himself in 2015 by taking 2e place de la Flèche Wallonne then Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Enough to quickly make him the centerpiece of Etixx – Quick Step (now Soudal – Quick Step) in the Ardennes.

Adding to this an explosion on the roads of the Grande Boucle in 2018 (two stage victories and the polka dot jersey for best climber), the Giro quickly found itself unable to find a place in the calendar of “Alaf” between the classics campaign in April and the high mass in July.

However, it is clear that this first on the roads of the Tour of Italy offers the double world champion (2020, 2021) a makeover. Enough to leave behind long months of doubt.

Able to play leading roles in breakaways

So certainly, the three-time winner of the Flèche Wallonne has not yet quite regained his former punch. “Alaf” version 2024 did not once again become the one who dynamited a race all by himself, who looked Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert straight in the eyes as soon as the road took on some relief or who donned the yellow jersey for 14 days on the Tour, going so far as to finish in the top 5 in Paris. But the Frenchman has returned to his offensive temperament.

Since leaving Piedmont, Julian Alaphilippe has already spent 764 kilometers at the front. By removing the two times, the Frenchman even spent almost one day out of two in a breakaway. But above all, beyond his attempts to slip into the lead of the race, the 31-year-old runner has found legs which allow him to really influence the debates when he takes off. Which was not the case during the Tour de France last July. Often unable to fight for a stage success even when he had taken the right breakaway.

From the 6th stage, “Alaf” stood out on the white paths and he did not come far from winning, only beaten by Pelayo Sanchez (Movistar) in a three-way sprint. If its attempts in the 8th and 10th stages were unsuccessful, the Habs hit the mark during the 12th stage.

With a certain audacity. First by extricating himself from a large group of runners alongside Mirco Maestri more than 100 kilometers from the finish. Then by dropping off the Italian in the final difficulty of the day to cross the line alone.

A calmer relationship with Patrick Lefevere

His eighth stage victory on a Grand Tour but above all his first success in eleven months and the 2e stage of the Critérium du Dauphiné. “It had a particular flavor indeed, commented Marion Rousse, her companion, in The Team . It is different from all the others because the emotion is not the same. Before, he won ten races a year, now it has become rarer, so we benefit from it differently. »

A success which also seems to have calmed relations between the Frenchman and his general manager within Soudal – Quick Step. Not spared by Patrick Lefevere, who did not hesitate to point out his lack of results in 2022 then in 2023, Alaphilippe this time received the praise of his boss after his victory in Italy. “He pulled out a hell of a number that only he has the secret to. That’s Julian”the Belgian reacted immediately.

READ ALSO. Giro 2024. The general classification of riders and teams after the 18th stage of the Tour of Italy

At the end of his contract with the “Wolfpack” at the end of next season, the possibility of an extension cannot now be ruled out. A sign that the Habs’ victory in the Giro has healed many wounds.

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