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 online race of the Worlds (2h15, French time), “Loulou” will not be the absolute leader of the Blues. “I’m one of the leaders, I’m 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 good, 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 large for this strategy of the “x”-headed monster to make sense. Worlds on the road Alaphilippe feared “too many falls” but is reassured: “It doesn’t bother me to ride” work of Imola, the feat of Louvain: relive Alaphilippe’s double “We must rely on it”Because an Alaphilippe inside would not be degraded, within a team without a teammate able to succeed 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 on the roles and the scheme that we will imagine, he swept away. runners, I am not a dictator.” He invited journalists to draw their own conclusions from his selection. In this sense, Christophe Laporte seems to be the “sprint” asset of the Habs. “I am 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. He likes the course and seems to him more difficult than it is just by reading the profile. Alaphilippe warns: “The bump is very hard” A tougher course than expected I didn’t expect such high percentages. It’s a bump that can suit me, rejoices Laporte. It’s a course that fits our group very well.” Same good surprise – even better – for Bardet during the reconnaissance: “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 crowned twice by Alaphilippe, sees this as a kind of auspicious compromise: “The course is more like that of last year, but it’s a mix of the last two World Championships.” “If I have the opportunity to seize an opportunity, I will seize 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, regarding the “taking initiative” factor that should not be overlooked. Without therefore assigning a cap to each, he salutes the “serenity” brought by Bardet. “I am 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. 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 are thanks to a very great runner, double world champion, but also to this big collective that Thomas (Voeckler) has managed to create around him”, insists Christophe Laporte again, a little less prominent for a few weeks, after a fall in Hamburg (August 21), than have Cosnefroy (and his recent Quebec coup) or Madouas (three victories in September). an army in the service of one man to a battalion of possible winners was so easily achieved, it is due to Alaphilippe’s temperament, according to Bardet: “Julian is fabulous at uniting the group around the common idea that ‘we strip ourselves on the bike.’ A unifier which will perhaps make it possible to “neutralize other great leaders if they mark each other”, as advanced by the 1997 world champion, Laurent Brochard, in Bistrot Vélo on Monday. “I’ll be even happier, I think, if it’s one of my colleagues who has the jersey”, concludes Julian Alaphilippe. Brochard: “Having Alaphilippe in the team will allow us to neutralize big leaders” : “We are going to play the best card”19 HOURS AGOWorld Road RacesAlaphilippe warns: “The bump is very hard”19 HOURS AGO
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