Julian Alaphilippe targets Tour of Flanders victory in 2024

Soudal Quick-Step puncheur will also race Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo ahead of return to the cobbled Classics

Clock17:16, Monday 13th November 2023
It has been a couple of years since we last saw Julian Alaphilippe at his sparkling best

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

It has been a couple of years since we last saw Julian Alaphilippe at his sparkling best

Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal Quick-Step) has confirmed the Spring Classics as his major target for 2024, indicating that he will ride a full cobbled Classics campaign.

The 31-year-old two-time world champion was speaking in an Instagram Q&A in a virtual BKOOL ride and said that he will race Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo and the Tour of Flanders, aiming to repeat his feat of winning the former two in 2019 and gunning to avenge his 2020 crash at the latter.

Alaphilippe also stated that he would ride the other cobbled races in the build-up to Flanders, which could include the E3 Classic, Gent-Wevelgem, and Dwars door Vlaanderen.

"My first big goal will be normally the Tour of Flanders," he said, "but with already some important races before, like Strade Bianche, Milan-San Remo, and all the Flemish one-day Classics – the one-day races in Belgium until Flanders."

Alaphilippe did not confirm whether or not he'll ride Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on the so-called Opening Weekend a month shy of the main Flemish Classics period, but his statement showed his newfound appetite for the cobbles still burns bright.

The Frenchman also said he does not yet know his program for the rest of the season, only planning up to the Spring for the time being.

In a career season in 2019, Alaphilippe won both Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo in a matter of weeks, before flourishing in the Ardennes Classics the following month with a victory at La Flèche Wallonne. This all preceded a memorable ride in the yellow jersey at the Tour de France, of course, in which he finished fifth overall.

Alaphilippe's ambitions at the Tour of Flanders date back to the following year, in which the Quick-Step rider was a surprising package in making the final three alongside Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma). However, his stunning debut came to a horrifying halt when he crashed into the back of a race motorbike.

His incident with the motorbike left both he and the team feeling a sense of 'what might have been,' offering Alaphilippe the motivation to return in 2021 and 2023.

However, it was his heavy crash at the 2022 Liège-Bastogne-Liège that marked a more important point in Alaphilippe's recent years. Since that day, the Frenchman has only won two races – the Faun-Ardèche Classic and stage 2 of the Critérium du Dauphiné this year – and does not look the same force he used to be up against the likes of Van der Poel and Van Aert.

His spring campaign this year was derailed by a knee injury and he was below his former best at the Tour de France and Worlds.

With the announcement of his targets for 2024, however, optimism will begin to build for his return to the Tour of Flanders, in particular.

"I think it will be an important season for me to try and perform at the top level and during the whole season," Alaphilippe said. "That's never easy."

The last couple of seasons have proved stunting to the fan favourite, but with a fair wind and a solid winter behind him, perhaps he can contest the win once again on the cobbles of Belgium.

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