Patrick Lefevere hits out at Julian Alaphilippe: Too many parties, too much alcohol

‘If you mess up one more time, I'll fire you on the spot’ Soudal Quick-Step boss tells French rider

Clock09:20, Wednesday 21st February 2024
Julian Alaphilippe and Patrick Lefevere in happier times

© Justin Setterfield / Velo Collection via Getty Images

Julian Alaphilippe and Patrick Lefevere in happier times

Patrick Lefevere certainly doesn’t have a problem with speaking his mind, even if it involves airing public criticism of his riders. This time it’s two-time world champion Julian Alaphilippe who has felt the full force of the Soudal Quick-Step manager’s wrath with Lefevere reportedly telling his rider that "if you mess up one more time, I'll fire you on the spot".

The provocative comments stem from an interview carried out by the publication Humo, in which Lefevere suggests that Alaphilippe lost his focus over the last two years and that his results dipped due to the nature of his off-the-bike activities. According to the magazine, Lefevere partly held Alaphilippe’s long-term partner, Marion Rousse to blame. Rousse is a former pro rider herself and has forged a hugely successful career as the race director of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift over the last three years.

“Julian is a good guy, but after he signed his mega contract, he no longer performed. I like my riders, but it must remain fair. As you get older, you have to take more care, you have to train harder and you can't throw your hat at it. He now has to make the click and fight for it,” Lefevere told Humo.

Read more: Julian Alaphilippe calls into question his Soudal Quick-Step future and possible retirement

Those comments were relatively moderate given that Alaphilippe has struggled for results since winning his second world title at the end of 2021. Injuries have certainly played a factor, with the Frenchman suffering crashes in several major races. He also missed out on selection for last year’s Tour de France team due to a lack of form and this year will race the Giro d’Italia for the first time in his career.

He’s out of contract at the end of the current campaign but Lefevere’s comments as to why the 31-year-old has struggled to hit his previous high standards are unlikely to improve any contract negotiations going forward.

“Too many parties, too much alcohol... Julian is seriously under the influence of Marion Rousse. Maybe too much. Julian is a young dog full of energy — you should let him cross in the yard every now and then. And you must also say: this far and no further. There is still a bad boy inside him,” Lefevere said.

Read more: Julian Alaphilippe lip syncs to Céline Dion in Soudal Quick-Step kit unveil

“I spoke to him in November last year, in the presence of Marion and his manager Dries Smets. I said: 'It cannot continue like this. If you mess up one more time, I'll fire you on the spot.' The message has arrived. He is getting back together.”

Earlier this year, in an interview with GCN, Lefevere appeared far more supportive of Alaphilippe, stating that he still believed in his rider.

"We saw Julian at the level that we expect from him," he said following the Tour Down Under in January.

"He can come back from Australia knowing that he can win. He could have won on Willunga if he had waited a bit more before attacking but he was up there,” he said.

“It’s a big season for him but he promised me that if he had one more winter then he could come back to the level that he’d had before. I’m looking forward to him not having bad luck this year and being at his best at the Tour of Flanders. I still remember the race in 2020, and the incident with the moto. He was the guy who made the break but I’m sure that his talent hasn’t gone.”

This is not the first time Lefevere has taken to the press to criticise one of his riders. The same happened in 2021 with the Belgian boss hitting out at Sam Bennett following the Irishman's injury issues, loss of form, and eventual decision to leave Soudal and re-join Bora-Hansgrohe.

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