Alaphilippe eyes opening stages with yellow jersey stint possible

One of the big favourites for the opening two stages and their hilly finales is Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) who gave his take on what shapes as a dynamic start to the 2021 Tour.

With Stages 1 and 2 of the Tour de France finishing atop climbs, the top puncheurs have been eyeing the potential for an early stage win and the first yellow jersey of the 2021 Tour, an honour that they'll likely carry until at least the Stage 5 time trial.

Alaphilippe has plenty of history with an early stint in yellow turning into a long one, with his 2019 Tour de France performance seeing him stick in the race lead for 14 days, eventually finishing fifth overall. The Frenchman is eyeing up a potential return to the golden fleece in 2021, though said it was going to be a tough task for the rider who wins the opener.

“I’ve just reconnoitered the first stage, and it’s a really nice finale, it’s harder than I had imagined. It was very important to recon those last kilometres,” said Alaphilippe, who assessed the finish at Landerneau as tougher than the more storied ascent of the Mûr-de-Bretagne.


“I find the finishing climb on stage 1 very hard, because after the steep part, it doesn’t descend and that’s often what hurts the legs the most. I think there are people who’ll be surprised.”

“It will suit Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert, too, even though it’s a very hard finale, because you never know what to expect with riders like them,” Alaphilippe said. "It will be a very interesting finale. Whoever wins on Saturday will have to make a very violent effort, and they’re riders who can hurt themselves on stages like that.”

Alaphilippe has been tagged as a potential Tour de France winner after his fighting performance in the 2019 Tour, taking the lead early on the hilly stages then proving more resilient than expected on the major climbs. That has led to speculation that a more open course will give Alaphilippe a shot at winning, and in the 2021 route, it looks like the Frenchman will have as good a shot as ever, with only a few summit finishes, a number of descents to finish stages and some time trials where he would be expected to take time on the majority of his general classification rivals.

“I don’t know if it’s perfectly tailored for me but it’s an open parcours all the same, with not a lot of summit finishes. I have looked at it a little bit, but I want to focus on the opening stages and then take stock,” said Alaphilippe.

“You have to take it day by day. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we haven’t come here with a team built around me and with the aim of the podium or overall victory. We have ambitions to win stages, give our maximum and then see how the race unfolds.

"The first week will be important to make a first assessment and after that I’ll see what’s possible. You have to be clear-headed and aware that the scenario of 2019, with 14 days in yellow, is really difficult to reproduce. I’ll give the maximum and see where that takes me.”

Deceuninck-QuickStep are always protagonists in the Tour de France, but with the late withdrawal of green jersey defending champion Sam Bennett, there's a less defined focus on the sprints, perhaps offering Alaphilippe some support if required.

Every moment of the 2021 Tour de France will be live on SBS, with the ŠKODA Tour Tracker app, SBS TV and the SBS Cycling Central the place to be to catch all the pulsating action from France from June 26 to July 18.

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4 min read
Published 24 June 2021 at 9:06am
By SBS Cycling Central
Source: SBS