Alaphilippe learning on the job as he defends Tour lead

By Ben Spratt 22 July 2019 4
Alaphilippe learning on the job as he defends Tour lead

Julian Alaphilippe acknowledges he has altered his approach to "ride like the leader" at the Tour de France as he adjusts to defending the yellow jersey.

Home hopeful Alaphilippe leads the General Classification heading into the final week, but his lead over defending champion Geraint Thomas was cut to a minute and 35 seconds as he was dropped late on Sunday.

Having never previously seriously contended for a Grand Tour GC title, the Deceuninck-Quick-Step rider is working hard to ensure his tactics are right going forward.

"I don't know if it's realistic [to win the GC] because I don't ask myself that question," he told a news conference. "I just continue to do like I did the last two weeks, take it day after day and enjoy it.

"It's a really big honour to be in yellow during the Tour. We changed the plan and [try to] defend it. I give everything every day, as you see, and I don't go in a breakaway now. I ride like the leader of the Tour de France.

"I don't know what will happen in the next days but, for sure, I will continue to defend the jersey with my team. They did a great job again [on Sunday]. I am looking forward to start the next week."

Acknowledging his lack of experience in such scenarios, Alaphilippe added: "When you have the yellow jersey on your shoulder, you have to defend it.

"And to defend it, you have to stay calm, stay with the GC riders, and that is something I have never done before. It's a big change for me, maybe I made a mistake to follow my instinct on the final climb [on Sunday].

"That is something you don't do when you have a lot of experience and I will learn from that. I think I learned already after the finishing line."

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Ben Spratt