The Great Pain of Alaphilippe

Julian Alaphilippe will take on Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday, the great classic of his dreams. Where he has experienced great disappointments in the past.

Make no mistake about it. If the Flèche Wallonne is Julian Alaphilippe’s favorite flight, the flight that best matches his qualities, which he has won three times, then it is indeed Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the classic of his dreams.

“Because it’s one of the most beautiful races of the year, the two-time world champion recalled again this week during a press conference. Since 2015, this has always been the common thread in my start to the season. I have always been present and involved in this race whenever I could. And then it’s part of the monuments and after my win in Milan-San Remo I never hid that I wanted to win others. But I’m not the only one, the whole peloton has respect for Liège. †

Valverde and Pogacar, his executioners

Alaphilippe has always been a central figure in the “Doyenne”, since his first entry in 2015 when he took a stunning second place behind Alejandro Valverde. But the rest was more complicated for him: a note lower in 2016 (23rd) and in 2019 (16th), pack in 2017, he had sacrificed himself for the win of his teammate Bob Jungels in 2018.

In the past two years, Alaphilippe has experienced two major disappointments. In 2021 he was defeated in the sprint by the ogre Tadej Pogacar, who still finished 2nd. But it’s 2020 that will bring him the most regrets. On the heels of his first world title, the Frenchman had made two major mistakes: the most spectacular was celebrating his win a little too soon, allowing Primoz Roglic to jump to the finish line.

How could I mess it up like that? I had dreamed of this photo where I raise my arms with the jersey of the world champion, Alaphilippe wondered in his book about his rainbow year. I had imagined it very strongly. And it was stronger than me…’ To ease his pain, Alaphilippe can tell himself that he wouldn’t have won even without this mistake. Because he was relegated from the final pack for hindering a certain Tadej Pogacar in the home game.

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