Tour d’Espagne 2022 – Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) à l'aube d'une semaine clé

Tour d’Espagne 2022 – Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) à l’aube d’une semaine clé

The Oranje departure finished, the Vuelta turns red this Monday, setting foot on the ground in Spain. With the focus, a fourth stage on the Basque trails tailored to the qualities of Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl). More than the latter, the week following the transfer from the other flat country to the Iberian roads concentrates the main chances of victory for the double world champion (2020, 2021). Afterwards, it will probably be time to put his personal ambitions in the attic and to mistreat the holds in the service of Remco Evenepoel, launched into the battle for the general standings.

His iridescent overcoat stands out and gives him a very special aura, despite a discreet start to Vuelta. Mainly busy replacing his leader in the final of the two flat stages, Alaphilippe ended the Dutch weekend with an honorable 16th place overall, acquired at the cost of a good team time (3rd). The third grand tour of the season is not the main objective of the season for the Montluçonnais, who approach the Spanish event with the intention of surveying the kilometers with a view to an eruptive end to the exercise (Worlds, Tour of Lombardy).

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The red jersey, a realistic goal

The next rounds will arrive very quickly, and Alaf’ will find a terrain that suits him on Tuesday, with the short and steep finish leading to Laguardia (900 meters at 8.4%). In this game of licensed punchers, the Frenchman is never far from winning. The fact remains that the latter is still incubating a hesitant recovery due to a severe Covid infection. More than victory, Alaphilippe will inevitably slip a watchful eye over the gleaming tunic, he who is in time to snatch it from the omnipotent Jumbo-Visma (+ 14”). Facing him, Primoz Roglic (Jumbo) and Ethan Hayter (INEOS Grenadiers) stand out as the main pitfalls at the ephemeral coronation of the tricolor puncher.

However, it is difficult to see the Slovenian discovering himself so early in the event, he who is still sailing in the unknown in the light of his back injuries contracted on the Tour de France. Hayter is a serious customer, from there to resist the giclette of the wearer of the rainbow jersey on attic slopes, there is a step that we will not necessarily cross. If Alaphilippe causes a slight break at the top, coupled with the harvest of bonuses, the scenario of a “Loulou” dressed all in red will be more and more closely aligned with reality.

The profile of the 4th stage: Place for the first reliefs

Decisive week for Alaf’?

Overall leader, a stage victory: enough for the Montluçonnais? Not far from here. The Frenchman has an interest in being offensive this week, with no less than three possibilities to dispute the victory. The Laguardia raid (4th stage), the steep and uneven finish in the Basque setting (5th stage) and the 7th stage (Friday) which should smile on a breakaway or a peloton relieved of its big thighs: so many chances to see Alaf’ triumph, and garner a great bowl of confidence at the dawn of the defense of his iridescent tunic.

Testing the legs, and enjoying his freedom in a setting that is quick to flourish: Alaphilippe is playing big on Tuesday. Afterwards, it will be time to fold the sails of postage, and put on the model crewman’s costume again. The Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl is above all there to propel Remco Evenepoel towards a first great result in a three-week event (abandoned at the Giro 2021, its only big tour before the Vuelta 2022). Asked about Alaphilippe, Patrick Lefevere, the boss of Quick-Step, did not spare his protege. Tired of seeing the French prepare for the Worlds during the big rounds, Lefevere intends to tighten the screw, and restrict Alaf’s field of action when the general’s big battle will lay its first milestones.

The profile of the 5th stage: Baroudeurs vs puncheurs for an undecided scenario

The rest: everything for Evenepoel?

The restrained striker will have to contain his imagination and swallow the kilometers against the wind for Evenepoel. Not necessarily the best of the general leaders in placement and the winding portions, the Belgian will need the vista of the Frenchman, a real tightrope walker on two wheels. The Montluçonnais is not scalded by the idea of ​​​​pairing several caps: “It is not necessarily difficult to reconcile the two”, he assured before the start.

Rest assured, Patrick Lefevere does not judge the Habs: “I expect something from him, and not only in the service of Evenepoel“, warned the potentate of Quick-Step in the columns of DeMorgen. Victories and responses, the first week on the tarmac of the peninsula will adjust the slider of Alaphilippe’s ambitions for the acme of his (short) season.

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