Julian Alaphilippe and his bottle problem
Jun 11 2021 10:25 pm CET

Julian Alaphilippe and his bottle problem
Julian Alaphilippe and his bottle problem
Photo of Julian Alaphilippe (c) Wout Beel

Why does Julian Alaphilippe keep making the same mistake? If the World Champion was to fight one day for a long race, he and his team will have to work on better communication.

By: Maritza Cárdenas

A penalisation related to irregular feeding isn't something rare in cycling races. What's rare is that it happens to riders that are fighting for the overall victory in a competition. Teams and riders know that every second counts when it's about winning a long race and that's why certain things are usually under strict control.

The World Champion was penalised with 20 seconds at the end of the fifth stage of the Tour de Suisse because he received a bottle from Deceuninck-Quick-Step's car in the last ten kilometres. "I was thirsty, I needed to drink and my sports director told me that I could grab a bottle," said Alaphilippe at the end of the stage.

"When I was drinking, a commissaire told me that it was not allowed, but I had already drank and that's why I was penalised." The Frenchman arrived to the finish line with the chasers and is now in the fourth overall position -dropping two spots- at 53 seconds from the current GC leader Richard Carapaz.

But this isn't the first occasion on which Alaphilippe has suffered from this same mistake. During the 2020 Tour de France and as he was wearing the Yellow Jersey, the rider took a bottle at 17 kilometres from the finish line -which was also forbidden- and also got a 20-second penalty.

The rider was set to keep wearing Yellow at the end of the stage, but this penalisation meant that he had to give it away to Adam Yates. At the time, those 20 seconds cost him not only the GC lead but he dropped to the 16th place, showing how close the overall fight was.

The latest editions of the Tour de France have been won with a margin of less than two minutes, sometimes even less than one minute, so every second counts on every stage not only to remain in a place close to the top but also because every day that a rider spends time wearing the leader's jersey brings advantages for the team in terms of revenue, publicity and visibility, which is vital for the teams that participate in this kind of races.

The director of the French Grand Tour Christian Prudhomme told newspaper Ouest-France that Alaphilippe is currently the only French rider that could win the race. "Julian Alaphilippe is not a Grand tour rider, but he proved to us in 2019 that he could wear the Yellow Jersey for a long time," said the race director. This Tour is less mountainous than in previous years, there are a number of arrivals that aren't at the top but downhill and he's a remarkable descender. He is one of the best puncheurs in the word and the Tour starts with two stages in Brittany for them. The Creusot stage (seventh) could suit him as well."

But if the rider and the team really want to get a shot at it, they also need to be strict and rigorous when it's about the rules and play the game in the most disciplined way, as in these cases it may show that usually the formation goes for the stage wins or the very specific targets.




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