Alaphilippe: An Unforgettable Season
This season for me was a really nice one. It was a great experience, even with some setbacks that I will talk about later in the blog.
The excitement began, at least personally, at Paris-Nice. It was my first time at the race and as a French guy it was like a dream. There were several stages near my home, so a lot of people came to visit me. It was a big emotion, one of the first times I realized how great it is to race in your home country. You can interact with your fans and your family and it is very special. It was also important because even if at the end Kwiatkowski was 2nd, we worked hard every day to defend the yellow jersey. Paris-Nice was also the springboard for a period of good racing for me.
The Ardennes Classics were really beautiful for the team and myself. Kwiato won at Amstel Gold Race, and then I was always a protagonist in the races. It was everything I imaged it could be. I did my best for a great result, and to be on the podium at any of those races, such as Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, it was a wonderful feeling that is difficult to fully describe. When you are a guy who aims for these races since you are a child, it felt almost surreal.
Amgen Tour of California was like icing on the cake. After a lot of places in big races, it was a relief to finally raise my hands as a victor. It was fantastic. As a team we won four stages, out of eight. So, I also experienced great teamwork. At the end we really worked together to try to help me win this race. At the end I was 2nd, but the stage victory is one I won't forget. The first part of this season was something great and something I will carry with me through my career.
After the first part of the season I decided with the team to take a period of rest. The French National Championship was my last race before a deserved break, to recover as best as possible and reap the full benefits of a major period of racing. I followed Le Tour de France as a spectator. It was super nice. I restarted again with a few European races before departing for Canada. Unfortunately, that was when things did not go so well for me.
When I arrived in Canada for the races I immediately had the feeling that something was wrong. I didn't feel really well. But, when you are young, you think it is simply a matter of fatigue and not fully recovering. I didn't really think about it. I tried to do my job. But, from Canada, we flew immediately to Richmond for the UCI World Championship. I spent 15 days there, so for me it was a long period mentally. Sadly, the feeling did not improve. In fact, it felt worse. I was training really hard, but my body didn't respond as I hoped. I rode the Worlds, but since the first pedal stroke I knew it would be bad for me. There was nothing I could do with my condition.
When I returned to Europe, I discovered I had mononucleosis. It was probably present in my body for a few weeks prior. For me, it was a mixed feeling. In one way I was upset, because I couldn't finish the season the way I wanted, especially with worlds on a road course I really liked. But, on the other hand, I was relieved. I finally had an answer for why my body was not at the level I expected. It was because of an illness, not because I did something wrong in training or recovery. Now I am focusing on full recovery. I had a few days with the team in meetings in Brussels, and now I will take a small period off before focusing on next season. I want to do well next year. I also had the chance to meet with Dan Martin, a guy who knows the Ardennes Classics well. It was nice to chat with him and discuss our mutual love for those races. We will see what we can do together. I think I can learn a lot from him and can start the 2016 season on the right path with Etixx – Quick-Step.