It is a surprising geographical phenomenon but which should delight cycling enthusiasts: each day that Julian Alaphilippe currently spends in Spain and then in Italy brings him closer to Denmark. It’s not yet a definitive green light but it’s starting to look like it. Optimism is growing around the presence of the 30-year-old French rider at the Grand Départ of the Tour de France on July 1 in Copenhagen. An outcome which for a long time seemed very uncertain after the serious accident of Alaphilippe during Liège-Bastogne-Liège on April 24th. By hitting a tree at almost 70 km / h during a collective fall, the Frenchman of the Quick-Step team, had, according to the medical press release from his team, fractured three ribs and also suffered from a pneumothorax .
The double world champion was in Sierra Nevada where he had joined his teammates almost two weeks ago, before joining the ski resort of Livigno, on the Italian-Swiss border, to continue his work at altitude and improve his condition. . The objective was first to make him pile up the miles in order to gradually fade the pain that was compressing his chest. Alaphilippe is expected to complete his internship this weekend and a final decision will then be made over the next week.
“We will have a telephone meeting between us in order to compare all our information, explains Patrick Lefevere, the boss of Quick-Step. Julian’s camp went really well but there is a difference between a camp and the competition. Let’s say that if everything continues in the same direction, we can have reason to be optimistic. A few weeks ago, I said it would be 50-50 when discussing Julian’s chances of being on the Tour. There, it is clear that it leans much more in the right direction. »
Presence expected at the French Championships
Lefevere nevertheless recalled that his runner’s injury was truly spectacular. “He still had three fractures,” he recalls. The most worrying was the lung and that’s over. But then you had to grit your teeth to ride despite the pain. If Alaphilippe were to line up for the Tour, his sixth participation since his debut in 2016, he will nevertheless have to carry out a life-size test in competition before.
He should therefore line up for the French Road Championships on Sunday June 26 in Cholet. A race he dreams of winning one day, but whose profile this year is more suited to sprinters. The French puncheur should nevertheless take the start to find sensations in the heart of the peloton in a race which promises to be demanding (240 km) and committed.
Then there remains the question of the level of the double world champion on the roads of the Grande Boucle where, usually, he tried to shine from the first week. Alaphilippe had even checked the fourth stage for a long time between Dunkirk and Calais to dream of a new stage victory, he who has already won six. And why not even arrive with the yellow jersey on his shoulders the next day on the cobblestones of the mythical Trouée d’Arenberg, which he will ride for the first time in his professional career? Everything can be considered if the Frenchman finds the rhythm in time. “You could indeed imagine that it will be difficult but with him, you never know,” continues Lefevere.
A few days ago, Laurent Jalabert, the consultant for France Télévisions, let us loose: “For me, he will be on the Tour and I even think he will be strong because he will have run less and will be full of juice. We are talking about Alaphilippe precisely, not just anyone. »