Julian Alaphilippe Prioritizes Paris Olympics Over Tour de France

107th giro d'italia 2024 stage 19
Julian Alaphilippe Prioritizes Olympics Over TourTim de Waele - Getty Images

The Summer Olympics always pose an interesting dilemma for the cycling world: Skip the Tour de France and sacrifice chances at stage wins and supporting your team in order to go for Olympic glory, or risk showing up to the start line in Paris tired and ready for a break. For Soudal-QuickStep’s Julian Alaphilippe, a complete focus on the Olympics in Paris is more important than working for his teammate and potential Tour GC contender Remco Evenepoel.

Controversial team boss Patrick Lefevere told French news outlet L’Equipe that he wouldn’t force Alaphilippe to race in the Tour de France since he knows Alaphilippe’s ambitions include an attempt at the Olympic gold in his home country this season.

To that end, Alaphilippe has already been preparing, racing the Giro d’Italia for the first time in his career to lead into the Paris Games with the best fitness possible. The Frenchman performed well in the Giro, netting a stage win and a podium finish, as well as finishing fourth in the points race. His stage win also cemented his cycling legend status: He has now won a stage at every Grand Tour.

Alaphilippe is also a two-time World Champion, and the 31-year-old is likely nearing the end of his professional career. Lefevere remarked to L’Equipe that this would likely be Alaphilippe’s last Olympics. “I understand that Julian already has Paris in mind; this may be his last chance to experience the Olympic Games, especially at home,” said Lefevere. “Why deprive him of that?”

However, his teammates are likely not happy with his decision. Alaphilippe’s focus on the Olympics might have disastrous consequences for Evenepoel, who has been tapped as one of the few riders who has a chance of going up against the seemingly unstoppable Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) for the overall win. Alaphilippe isn’t the only Soudal-QuickStep racer who can help Evenepoel chase down stage wins, but he arguably would be one of the biggest helpmates for Evenepoel.

The Olympics often represent a mismatch of loyalties for racers, both in the race and in the lead-up. Teammates versus countrymen: Do you do what’s best for your professional team, or what could be best for your nation? Alaphilippe told LeFevere that, if pressed, he would race the Tour—but would prefer not to. And it seems as though the team manager isn’t planning to force the issue.

“He assured me that he would comply with our decision because we are his employer but I cannot imagine for a moment forcing him to be at the start. We never did it for anyone,” Lefevere told L’Equipe.

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