Julian Alaphilippe, the shadow of a doubt? “He remains the arch-favorite” of the Walloon Flèche according to Steve Chainel – Eurosport FR

2018, 2019, 2021… He is unquestionably the king of the Mur de Huy. In each of his last three participations in the Flèche Wallonne, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) has disgusted the competition, so much his mastery of the last hectometres of the final ascent is each year at its peak. If 2020 is lacking in its track record, it is only because of the world title of Montluçonnais, who had made the decision not to line up in Belgium to digest his exploit. On Wednesday, the rainbow jersey holder will once again step forward with the “ultra-favorite” sign, as our consultant Steve Chainel describes it, and can return to a success of the event’s record holder, Alejandro Valverde (5).Flèche WallonneThe Mur de Huy is his kingdom: the three glorious Arrows of AlaphilippeYESTDAY At 12:41pmCyclingFlèche Wallonne 2022 2:30-4:45pm “I think he is 100%”But in what state of form Will Julian Alaphilippe arrive this season in his favorite race? Admittedly, the French rider has had a few ups and downs, such as a fall caused by his own car on the Flèche Brabançonne, or even the fact of not taking part in the Amstel Gold Race, in particular due to a change in the calendar due to the first turn of the French presidential election. But Steve Chainel is formal: “I think he is 100%.” ​​After a rather successful start to the season on the Tour de la Provence (2nd overall and green jersey), Julian Alaphilippe experienced Strade Bianche (58th) and a complicated Tirreno-Adriatico (33rd). But the reigning double world champion was able to recover at the best of times, before starting the period of Belgian classics. As often, his Tour of the Basque Country, where he won a stage and achieved two second places, did him the greatest good. A stupid fall and a big worry for Alaphilippe “It was very important for him to prepare for the Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège with the Tour of the Basque Country, explains the former rider. Each year, we say to ourselves that Julian may not be at the top and finally the Flèche wallonne remains his favorite race. But like last year, the competition will be fierce, even in the absence of certain big names. -Visma announced the composition of their squad on Tuesday, without Primoz Roglic. It is however with the Slovenian that Alaphilippe had to fight until the last meters, last year, before raising his arms at the top of the Wall of Huy. A breathtaking final which could nevertheless happen again with another rider, a compatriot this time. Julian’s main opponent will clearly be Benoît Cosnefroy “Julian’s main opponent will clearly be Benoît Cosnefroy, bets Steve Chainel. He has already finished 2nd in the Flèche wallonne (in 2020), he is enormously confident and he is not going to think too much on how to play with Julian, even if Julian remains the arch-favorite.” In terms of statistics in any case, the Frenchman from AG2R-Citroën benefits from a very positive dynamic. After his two second places in the Amstel Gold Race and the Flèche Brabançonne, Cosnefroy, like Warren Barguil (Arkea-Samsic), also mentioned, will have the fangs to attack the Mur de Huy (1.3 km at 9.6% ). But the French will not be alone. For Movistar, Alejandro Valverde has not said his last word, while Team UAE Emirates has decided to line up the heavy artillery to afford a new Belgian classic, two seasons after the victory of Marc Hirschi, who will be present . On the other hand, the leadership of the formation of the Emirates will not be clearly defined, since Tadej Pogacar, double winner of the Tour de France, has decided to align himself with the event, before going to defend his crown on Liège-Bastogne- Liège.Valverde on the reasons for his longevity: “It’s not a sacrifice to take care of myself” Beware of a vengeful Pogacar… “For these Ardennes races, we have a very dynamic team, assures the Slovenian rider to The form is good and I think I can do something good, but overall the team is very strong and we will have options, which is always an advantage.”Options named Pogacar , Hirschi but also Diego Ulissi, since the Italian, even if his last appearances are less flashy than those of the last winner of the Tour, had finished 3rd in the event in 2019. Tadej Pogacar will be animated by a feeling of revenge after his failed sprint during the Tour of Flanders, the last f Since he appeared in competition, more than two weeks ago. The sprint analyzed by Jacky: “Pogacar can only blame himself, it’s his mistake”Pressure on the WolfpackLike ( almost) always, the victory should be disputed in the ultimate difficulty of the course. A wall whose steepest slopes exceed 20%. “Julian Alaphilippe has this three-minute power-to-weight ratio which makes him the best puncher in the world, analyzes our consultant. He has this rather incredible capacity for explosiveness and he has only been doing this for almost 15 years, when he started in cyclocross.” Besides the competition, a downside remains within the Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl formation. The “Wolfpack” is much less sharp this year in the classics than in previous seasons. No podium since that of Kasper Asgreen on the Strade Bianche, at the beginning of March, and a 6th place for the Dane, ten days ago, on the Amstel Gold Race. Poor balance sheet. Evenepoel as co-leader on Sunday? “There will be a lot of pressure and expectation on Julian and Remco Evenepoel, insists Steve Chainel. Alaphilippe is the arch-favorite on the Walloon Flèche. Liège-Bastogne-Liège, on the other hand, can suit Evenepoel. I am less worried about them than on Paris-Roubaix on Sunday, where, on the cobblestones, they were below what we could have hoped for. “After the Flèche wallonne, Alaphilippe will turn to his big objective for this start of the season: Liège-Bastogne- Liege, Sunday. If he has been chasing the Belgian Monument for several years, the tricolor runner “will win it one day”, our consultant is convinced: “This year or another”. Even if the form is there, the best springboard for hitting your target is obviously to win the Flèche. Alaphilippe’s ‘attack-gouliche’ did not bear fruit