Julian Alaphilippe, the rainbow challenge after a dark year

Julian Alaphilippe at the start of the 7th stage of the Vuelta, in Camargo (Spain), on August 26. DAVID STOCKMAN/BELGA via Reuters Connect

DECRYPTION – The Frenchman will defend his world champion jersey on Sunday in Australia. At the end of a season full of falls and injuries.

To fall. Get up. Dream. The infernal obstacle course against which Julian Alaphilippe has measured himself, throughout the year. “It’s terrible bad luck: this year he has seen more hospitals than he has run”summarized Patrick Lefevere, the manager of the Quick-Step team in the columns of the Belgian daily The newspapaer.

The Auvergnat, in a mysterious state of form, lands on Sunday (2:15 a.m. French time, Eurosport and France 3) on the starting line of the world championships at the foot of a double challenge. That presented by the demanding course of Wollongong (266.9 km; 3945 m of elevation gain), bristling route of “Mount Pleasant” (1.1 km; at 7.7% on average with a passage at 14% to climb at 12 times), on the east coast of Australia.

And the one proposed by the story. The Frenchman will try to join the Slovakian Peter Sagan, the only rider to win the title three times consecutively, in 2015, 2016 and 2017 (the Italian Alfredo Binda, the Belgians Rik Van Steenbergen and Eddy Merckx, and the Spaniard…

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