After close to the victory on the Amstel Gold Race, Julian Alaphilippe on Wednesday played the Flèche Wallonne, which he won last year after finishing twice second (2015, 2016) of the event. The former rider and now a consultant for France Télévisions, Laurent Jalabert, to whom we often compare Alaphilippe, thinks that the recent winner of Milan-San Remo can continue to shine in the classics.
If you are told that Julian Alaphilippe is like you, what do you think?
LAURENT JALABERT. That flatters me. Even a little too much. I am already from another era. On the physical plane, he has a little the same aptitudes as mine. He is a puncher. He knows how to make the difference in slopes when the percentage is steep, that was my strong point at one time. He has an interesting speed point that allows him to finish in the best possible way when he is in a small group. And then Julian matures and is now making fewer mistakes. Compared to me, it is also because he wins the same races: the Flèche Wallonne, Milan – San Remo and stage races over a week.
Do you recognize him?
On the bike, yes. In life, I do not know him enough. He is completely uninhibited, very open, without filter. We feel it hyper-nature. His attitudes make him very endearing.
The Flèche Wallonne won last year is it a career trigger?
Yes perfectly. There are always clicks in a career. For me, it was Paris-Nice (Editor's note: in 1995) and then that conditioned a lot of things behind. I went to another level. This is also the case for Peter Sagan. We forget that in the classics, he made places without winning. And once he won the Tour of Flanders in 2016, everything went on for him. The complex was up. What Julian achieved in the Tour in 2018 gave him a little more confidence too and with Milan-San Remo, it's a landing above.
How far can he go?
That's the question. The logic would be that it is again favorite to win the Arrow or Liege. He can slam a Paris-Nice and win the Tour de Romandie, it's in his capacity even if there is always a very hard finish.
Can he have high hopes in the Tour de France or other great races like the Giro or the Vuelta?
The difficulty for him is the succession of mountain stages. One or two, that's fine. But three, it can sometimes get stuck. In the Tour of Spain, with the configuration of these races, difficult, steep, hard arrivals every day but not too much, it is dynamic races that suit him well.
Is it the most complete tricolor runner according to you?
Yes. He can win on all terrains. He won times like Paris-Nice (in 2018) or the Tour de San Luis this year. Romain Bardet, with all due respect for him, has not won a race yet. Which is not the case of Julian. Over three weeks, Romain is better, especially in the mountains but he is less successful.
Can he win the Tour?
It would be a mistake to believe it. I think he will break his teeth.
First, he does not have the team for that. He has perfect training to do what he does. She is superb, he has experienced teammates, dedicated to the classics. In the Tour de France, this same team does not have the same weapons to fight the Sky (Editor's note: become Ineos). And Alaphilippe on a more personal level will be less effective on a chrono than a Froome. In high mountains too. I think the Tour he made last year (Editor's note: he rallied Paris with the best climber's jersey and signed two stage victories), that's what you should do.
What are his limits ?
If the reference is the Tour, I think he will not win the Tour. Is it a problem ? No, I do not think so. It is better to continue to obtain results and win on Paris-Nice, Dauphine or the Tour of Catalonia than to make a podium on the Tour.
Like you with the Once team, Alaphilippe had to engage in foreign training to be successful. Exile is an obligation?
It was his destiny. Nobody wanted him in France. And you can return the question differently. How could a guy like him with talent in the youth, hyper-cyclo-cross has not been noticed? Has not anyone been able to detect his talent in France? Today, he found a balance in this team.
We are not ready to see a Frenchman win the Tour then?
The strength of a team is finance. Some teams are reaching their limits in this area. Is Bardet worse than Froome or Thomas, with the exception of the time trial? Over three weeks and without offending his teammates, he is less well-rounded for budgetary reasons.
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26 years, born in Montluçon (Allier).
Awards. California Tour (2016); Tour of Catalonia (2018); 2 stages of the Tour de France (2018); Jersey of the best climber of the Tour de France (2018); Flèche Wallonne (2018); San Sebastián Classic (2018); Strade Bianche (2019); Milan-San Remo (2019).