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'I don't want to win a race because a rider isn't there' Alaphilippe on battling Valverde in the Ardennes

Joe Robinson
10 Jan 2018

The French rider wants to continue his Monument success and also be competitive at the Tour

When Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) took his fifth Fleche Wallonne title in 2017, a dejected Dan Martin told the press 'maybe I will have to wait until he retires to win this race'.

The 37-year-old Spaniard has been so dominant in the Ardennes Classics over recent years that it has almost seemed impossible to beat him. 

However, Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) believes he has what it takes to end Valverde's Ardennes domination and would rather do it while he is still racing than when he has retired.

Speaking to Cyclist Alaphilippe said, 'I want to win these races [Ardennes Classics] with Valverde in the peloton.

'I don't want to win bike races because he or a certain rider is not there.'

The Frenchman came close in 2016 riding to second, behind Valverde, and sixth in Fleche Wallonne and Amstel Gold respectively.

However, he was unable to repeat this success in 2017 after a knee injury ruled him out of the Spring races.

Nevertheless, the 25-year-old still managed to make last season the best of his career so far, finishing on the podium at both Milan-San Remo and Il Lombardia, taking a stage of the Vuelta a Espana in between.

The natural progression is to go one step further in these races. It goes without saying that Alaphilippe wants to stand on the top step of the podium yet realises the team's embarrassment of riches makes it likely that he will be far from the only Quick-Step rider trying to win a particular Monument.

'Obviously, I would like to win a big race like one of the Monuments or race well in the Tour but this depends on how the race plays out,' said Alaphilippe. 

'Look at Milan-San Remo for example, I was one of three guys to race the finish which hasn't happened in a long time.

'Each race is different every year and if it is not me trying to win then it can be Philippe Gilbert or Fernando Gaviria or another rider and then I will just do my job to help them.'

With Dan Martin's transfer away from Quick-Step Floors and Gilbert's focus on Paris-Roubaix in 2018, it seems inevitable that Alaphilippe will become the undisputed leader of the team at the Ardennes Classics.

With this being said, Bob Jungels's decision to race the Tour de France means he will also be more focused on these one-day Classics come April and you can never quite rule Gilbert out of anything.

Just look at the way he rolled back the clock to win Amstel Gold in 2017.

It is clear that Alaphilippe is a talented rider - Brian Holm calls him a 'piece of art' - yet some believe he needs to manage in his aggressive riding nature and race smarter if he is to crack the biggest of races, something that the rider seems to agree with.

'I want to stay motivated but I also need to remain calmer when I race and motivated on a goal, making less mistakes than last year then maybe I can take a big win.'