More than four months after winning the rainbow jersey of world champion in Imola, Julian Alaphilippe is preparing to resume competition this Thursday, at the start of the Tour de La Provence. His first race since his violent fall on the Tour of Flanders last October.
Julian, how are you feeling before starting this new season?
It will be a great comeback and whatever the end result, I’m very happy to be here. Taking part in my first race in France with the world champion’s jersey is special. I feel good, very motivated, very happy and very happy to start this new season. It’s always important to see where we are after winter preparation. The objective is above all to see where I am in my state of form and then rise to crescendo in view of the objectives that will come later. The team is motivated, there is a high plateau, it’s great. Everything is in place to begin.
When you are world champion, the only desire is to resume racing, right?
It’s exactly that. The team went through the courses and the preparation went well so we are all looking forward to it. I used to start the season a bit earlier so I can’t wait to get a bib on my back and kick off this new year.
The field is very high on this Tour de La Provence, competition will be present from the start …
Last year, there was already a big field. This season, with the different cancellations, all the teams put on their best collective so I think there will be some sport over the next four days. It’s a chance to have such a high plateau, to test yourself from the start with the best opponents. We chose to start now but some runners will already have a few days of racing in their legs.
Are you now used to the health bubble?
We have no choice, we have to stick to it. This is how the organizers manage to maintain the races while respecting the sanitary measures. It’s part of the rhythm now, putting on the mask has become a reflex.
Starting a season with the rainbow jersey, is that extra pressure?
Not especially even if my swimsuit necessarily forces me more than before. It’s always a pleasure to put it on in training and it will be a special moment to start the season with this jersey. You have to take advantage of these borders and have the desire to do well.
“I can’t wait to become a dad”
Are you already thinking about the Tokyo Games?
Not yet. I am focused on the first block to Liège-Bastogne-Liège and then I will take stock. I received the route and I had information but for the moment it is far. With the proposed route I can be one of the favorites but a lot of riders will be able to win, especially since it happens immediately after the Tour de France. I am also thinking of Mathieu Van Der Poel who announced that it will be a big goal for him, he is a rider who will be able to win.
You injured your hand during the last Tour of Flanders, how is she?
I manage to do sprints, to force a little but it is certain that I am not 100%. The doctors are optimistic, tell me it’s normal because in addition to the two fractures, I had a tear in a tendon between my fingers, that’s what is still painful. I need to do a lot of warm-up before cycling and it’s still a bit sensitive. After that, I have nothing to complain about, I manage to train well, I have worked well and I am competitive. I still can’t wait for the recovery to be 100% so that I can get my hand back as before.
You are going to become a dad in the next few months, does that change anything for you?
We have just announced the pregnancy with Marion (Rousse, also deputy director of the Tour de La Provence). I still have a little time before becoming a dad but we are very happy, everything is going well for the moment. If it didn’t change my preparation, my way of thinking has changed. Why? Because I can’t wait to become a dad. I know it’s going to be a big change, I’m lucky to have teammates who are already fathers and it’s always good to be able to talk to them about it.