Julian Alaphilippe will participate in Liege-Bastogne-Liege for the third time in his career, and the 25-year-old was quick to stress out that he’ll not start the 258.5km-long race as the five-star favorite.
“I’m not the favorite, but one of the favorites. Many riders are capable of winning, so it won’t be just a fight between me and Valverde. Liège-Bastogne-Liège is a race close to my heart, a race that I like and want to win. After winning Flèche Wallonne I hit the reset button and I’m now ready to start from zero. Winning there doesn’t mean I’m above everyone else, just that I have a good condition, which gives me a lot of confidence.”
“We will try to be there, manage our effort and find the right time for the right moves. This race marks the end of my first part of the season, so I will try – with the help of my strong teammates – to make the most out of it. Liège is long and very hilly, so we could have many scenarios, from an early attack or a late one making it all the way to a small group sprinting for the win”, explained Alaphilippe.
Regarding Valverde, Alaphilippe said: “It’s gradually hitting home what a big victory this was. Alejandro gave it everything but he realised it was my day. I’ve been beaten by him in the past and this time the roles were reversed, and that he took it so well and congratulated me like that shows what a class act he is. That’s why I respect him and his team so much.”
The last Belgian rider to come out on top of Liege-Bastogne-Liege, in 2011, Philippe Gilbert will make his 13th appearance at this race.
“It has been a long time since I’ve last been on these roads, but I am glad to return here. The parcours is tough and if the riders want, they have all the ingredients to make it a very hard race. It’s difficult to predict the outcome, especially with this route. What can I tell you for sure it’s that we are keen to show the same aggressiveness and fantastic team spirit, so we can end our classics campaign with another good result. I am a bit tired, because it’s been a long spring for me, but at the same time very determined to help the team.”