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Julian Alaphilippe is at all times full fuel, even when the percentages are stacked towards him.

The reigning world champion didn’t waste any time to indicate off his rainbow stripes in 2021, and uncorked a long-distance assault with 70km to go in Thursday’s opening stage on the Tour de la Provence. And after getting reeled in with about 2km to go, he tucked into the pack and took pulls to arrange Deceuninck-Fast-Step teammate Davide Ballerini for the dash victory.

That’s how Alaphilippe rolls.

“I had some enjoyable,” Alaphilippe mentioned. “I made an effort. I attempted, and it was in play till very near the end. With a powerful facet wind, it was sensible to remain on the entrance. I used to be nonetheless considering of Davide for the dash. It’s an excellent begin for us.”

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The 28-year-old is intent on making his world champion’s season rely. Already probably the most entertaining and aggressive riders within the bunch, “Ala-panache” appears dedicated to squeezing one thing out of a race each time he toes as much as the road.

Alaphilippe’s sortie set the tone for Deceuninck-Fast-Step on its first day of racing in 2021. Following crew custom, it saved alive a string of profitable its first race of the season since 2019.

A collection of race cancelations noticed Alaphilippe be a part of his Deceuninck-Fast-Step teammates on the four-day Tour de la Provence to open the 2021 marketing campaign. After a relaxed begin, the tempo ramped up within the second half of Thursday’s stage alongside France’s blustery Côte d’Azur when Alaphilippe linked up with the attacking Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) and Gianni Moscon (Ineos Grenadiers).

Ciccone was equally motivated to animate the race following a string of setbacks final season that included nostril surgical procedure and a bout of COVID-19. The budding Italian star jumped, and the main trio carved out a promising hole of about three minutes on the lumpy finale throughout the vineyards and hills of France’s gorgeous Provence area.

“I feel not many individuals anticipated me to assault in my first race, particularly in a stage like this, however immediately I made a decision to comply with my feeling,” Ciccone mentioned. “I had good legs, good power and [my attack] was a method to attract the road to my unhealthy season final 12 months. I wished to show to myself that I’m prepared to show the web page.”

Ciccone light within the closing kilometers, however Alaphilippe and Moscon held on till about two kilometers to go when strain from Groupama-FDJ and UAE-Crew Emirates regardless of some blocking by Deceuninck-Fast-Step ended their journey.

Relatively than sit up, Alaphilippe jumped straight into the group not solely to maintain alive his GC choices, however shortly set to work to assist place Ballerini for the dash. Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) acquired the early hole, however Ballerini powered round one in every of final season’s prime sprinters towards robust winds to catch him on the line.

With Mont Ventoux and a climbing stage to Chalet Reynard looming Saturday, Alaphilippe was fast to downplay his GC probabilities. However odds are he’ll not less than rev up the engine to check his early season type, and, as at all times, placed on a great present.

That’s the Alaphilippe vibe.

“I wished to strive [Thursday], since you by no means know if it may have labored out,” he mentioned. “I feel I’ll pay for my efforts within the subsequent few days, so the GC is secondary proper now. The objective is already fulfilled with a pleasant win by Davide.”

Julian Alaphilippe sets tone on 2021 with opening-stage attack – VeloNews.com
Julian Alaphilippe set the tone for 2021 with a long-range assault in his first race of the season. Picture: James Startt

The French star is debuting on house roads forward of an formidable season. New for this spring is a bigger emphasis on the spring calendar, with scheduled begins at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Strade Bianche, Milano-Sanremo, Tour of Flanders, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He’s additionally goal Tirreno-Adriatico forward of the larger targets on the Tour de France, the Olympic Video games and a world title protection in Flanders.

“I got here right here to check myself and to see the place I’m, and put together for the following races,” Alaphilippe mentioned. “It’s at all times good to have a great begin.”

A “good begin” may lead to an excellent season, not just for Alaphilippe, however for bike racing followers as effectively.


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