Again in 2014 Julian Alaphilippe took on his very first race as a WorldTour skilled on the Tour Down Below and now it’s confirmed that he’s set to return to South Australia in 2024, however this time there will probably be no mixing in with the peloton.
The French Soudal-QuickStep rider, who has within the meantime develop into a two-time world street race champion and six-time Tour de France stage winner, will probably be utilizing the race as a launching pad in a season the place his first large objective is the Tour of Flanders.
“There are many undulating roads and difficult climbs all through varied levels of this race, however I’m significantly excited to revisit Willunga Hill together with Mount Lofty for the primary time, as I consider each will present nice alternatives for our group to complete robust,” mentioned Alaphilippe in a media assertion from the six-stage Australian race.
Willunga has lengthy been a daily, and very widespread, function of the Australian race whereas Mount Lofty close to Adelaide was launched in 2023 because the ending climb. On the subsequent version of the race, nevertheless, each the ascents will probably be packed into the closing weekend of the lads’s WorldTour occasion – which runs from Tuesday January 16 to Sunday January 21 – to supply two summit end levels to shut the race.
“I count on Alaphilippe to do very properly within the hardest last weekend of TDU racing historical past, particularly as somebody who’s gained the Tour de France King of the Mountain classification and wore probably the most prestigious yellow jersey for 18 days in his extremely profitable profession,” race director Stuart O’Grady mentioned.
Alaphilippe is among the many early begin record confirmations for the race, with Caleb Ewan the opposite headliner already introduced, however the sprinter is prone to be displaying up on the entrance on the flatter earlier levels as he strives to ship victories to his new Jayco-AlUla squad. The 2 riders might excel on very completely different terrain however each will probably be striving to make use of the race as an early season turning level after some tough seasons.
The French rider has had two wins apiece the final two seasons, however has missed the mark on a few of his large goals. Whereas crashes and accidents have definitely taken a toll, group boss Patrick Lefevere has up to now been vocal in his criticisms of the rider, who has a contract with the group that’s expiring on the finish of 2024. The most recent growth is the stories that the rider’s coach and cousin Franck Alaphilippe is being let go.
Nonetheless, the rider has made clear that he’s motivated heading into the 2024 season, having marked out not simply Tour of Flanders as a key early season race, but in addition Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo and different Flemish Classics. First, nevertheless, it will likely be the Australian stage-race, the place the Soudal-QuickStep group will probably be trying to decide up its first stage win on the occasion since 2020, when Sam Bennett claimed the opening day dash. In the event that they did, too, handle to safe general victory it might be the primary time a rider from the group claimed the ultimate ochre jersey since Allan Davis in 2009.
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