2018 Best Moments: Alaphilippe takes the Tour de France by storm
Quick-Step Floors have enjoyed a record-breaking year, with 73 UCI wins scored by 14 riders in 22 countries. Over the next weeks we will look back on the 10 biggest moments for the team, one of which was Julian's flawless Le Tour.
Resplendent in his polka dot jersey, with the famous Arc de Triomphe serving as backdrop and the sun shining over the moveable feast that Paris is, Julian Alaphilippe savored one of the most beautiful days of his career, after a race which saw the prodigious Frenchman come of age; at just his second career participation, the 26-year-old Quick-Step Floors rider soloed to a brace of career-defining stage victories, in the Alps (Le Grand-Bornand) and Pyrenees (Bagnères-de-Luchon) respectively, which helped him win the prestigious polka dot jersey, a performance only a dozen Frenchmen had achieved since the classification was introduced in 1933.
"It's very difficult to describe how I felt on that day, because I never imagined that I will ride one day on the Champs-Élysées with the mountain classification winner jersey on my shoulders. Those three weeks spent with the team have been incredible; I am happy and proud, because I've enjoyed many beautiful moments this past July, from my first ever Tour de France stage victory to taking the honors atop the mythical Col du Tourmalet, which was the moment when I began realizing that the jersey will be mine."
I am so grateful to this extraordinary squad for their trust, unconditional support and outstanding work
"Knowing they had so much faith in me and seeing them riding for me only fueled my motivation. I will never forget this race and the tremendous fans who showed their love from the first until the final stage", said Julian, the 50th Frenchman in history to don the prized polka dot jersey.
One of the most aggressive riders of the Tour de France – an aspect underlined by his presence in the breakaway on seven different stages – Alaphilippe set a record at his home race by becoming the first rider to win four Hors Catégorie climbs at a single edition since this category was introduced, back in 1979: Glières, Bisanne, Madeleine and Tourmalet.
For Julian, who charmed everyone with his smile, panache and riding style that have earned him those unforgettable solo wins, it was the second Grande Boucle appearance, following his debut in 2016, when he finished on the podium of a stage and came close again to winning one in the final week, only for bad luck to ruin his chances. Maybe more importantly, the fantastic display of the electric Alaphilippe – undoubtedly, one of the 105th edition's main stars – helped put to bed the massive disappointment felt in 2017, when a knee injury picked up during the spring prevented him from starting the race.
"That was a very tough moment, but with the help of my family and the team I managed to get over it and focus on the future. I worked hard day after day, kept believing I would come back stronger than before, and seeing that I was handsomely rewarded in the biggest race in the world gave me not just a lot of satisfaction, but also the incentive to work even harder, because there's still a lot of goals that I'd like to achieve in the years to come", concluded Julian, who'll start his 2019 season in Argentina, at the Vuelta a San Juan.
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