Madouas, Laporte, Cosnefroy, Bardet… More than B plans around Julian Alaphilippe

It was already, in a way, the bet of 2021. Julian Alaphilippe in the center piece, but not only pawns around him. The scenario of the omnipotence of 2020 in Imola had been put aside, for a distribution of forces likely to surprise the adversaries. It paid off, with the world title holder repeating the performance in Leuven. In 2022, the French team of Thomas Voeckler presents a relatively similar configuration, with the notable exception that the form of Alaphilippe amplifies this need not to bet on a single horse.

Sunday in Wollongong, on the starting line of the Worlds online race (2:15 a.m. French time), “Loulou” will not be the absolute leader of the Blues. “I am one of the leaders, I am not the only leader and that suits me very well“said the outgoing double world champion on Wednesday at a press conference.I’m not 100% but I’m fine, all the same, I think I can influence the race“, he believes, ready to put himself at the service of the collective. A collective sufficiently fleshed out for this strategy of the “x”-headed monster to make sense.

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Because an Alaphilippe inside would not be degraded, within a team without a teammate capable of succeeding him. Between Valentin Madouas, 3rd in the Tour of Flanders this year, Christophe Laporte, brilliant stage winner during the Tour de France, Benoît Cosnefroy, last-minute guest who has just beaten Pogacar, Van Aert and co. in Quebec, or even Romain Bardet, vice-world champion 2018, many French people look like a future wearer of the rainbow jersey. Enough to offer Voeckler many options that he refused to prioritize on Wednesday.

I will not reveal any information about the roles and the scheme that we will imaginehe swept away. I’m in the trade with the runners, I’m not a dictator“He invited journalists to draw their own conclusions from his selection. In this sense, Christophe Laporte seems to be the Habs’ ‘sprint’ asset.”I’m a fast runner and we can play on that (…) We have several cards to play and I think we have to rely on that“, analyzes the person concerned. The course pleases him and seems to him more difficult than it is simply by reading the profile.

Alaphilippe warns: “The bump is very hard”

A tougher course than expected

The bump is quite difficult, I did not expect such high percentages. It’s a bump that can match merejoices Laporte. It’s a course that suits our group very well.” Same good surprise – even better – for Bardet during the recognition: “I did not expect the bump of the circuit to be so hard (1.1 km at 7.7% average gradient, passage at 14%, Editor’s note)”. Madouas, the only runner who has been to Alaphilippe’s two coronations, sees this as a kind of auspicious compromise: “The course looks more like last year but it’s a mix of the last two World Championships.”

If I get the chance to take a chance, I’ll take it“, assures the resident of the Groupama-FDJ team, to whom the length of the event (266.9 km) can smile. “It’s a race without a headset“, recalls Voeckler, concerning the factor “taking initiative” which should not be neglected. Without therefore assigning a hat to each, he salutes the “serenity“brought by Bardet.”I’m a real soldier for the team. There is a legacy to safeguard, compared to the way the French team has evolved in recent years“, warns the DSM climber.

Fritsch: “I would put a small piece on a Madouas podium”

I’ll be even happier, I think, if it’s one of my colleagues who has the jersey

We may not have the big favorite in our team but we have to rely on this density of riders who can shine (…) We will be in the role of outsider“, argues Romain Bardet. The watchword is decidedly shared. “The results of the last two years, it is thanks to a very great runner, double world champion, but also to this big collective that Thomas (Voeckler) managed to create around him“, still insists Christophe Laporte, a little less in sight for a few weeks, after a fall in Hamburg (August 21), than are Cosnefroy (and his recent Quebec coup) or Madouas (three victories in September).

If the passage, gradual for various reasons, from an army in the service of one man to a battalion of possible victors was done so easily, it is due to the temperament of Alaphilippe, according to Bardet: “Julian is fabulous for uniting the group around the common idea that we strip ourselves on the bike.” A unifier that may allow “neutralize other great leaders if they mark each other“, as advanced the 1997 world champion, Laurent Brochard, in Bistrot Vélo this Monday. “I’ll be even happier, I think, if it’s one of my colleagues who has the jersey“, concludes Julian Alaphilippe.

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